The Instant Pot Diaries: Butter Chicken

In this fourth installment, our writer prepares Butter Chicken, a delicious favorite of Instant Pot enthusiasts. Read her tips.
By Mary Clarke  Published on 10/09/2018 at 9:30 AM EDT
Butter chicken is delish in the Instant Pot Shutterstock

If you are new to The Instant Pot Diaries, here is what you need to know: I’m an analog cook (I don’t even know how to use a microwave—yes, it’s true!). So I didn’t anticipate taking to an Instant Pot like I’ve seen so many people on my social feeds do. (For those who might not know, an Instant Pot is a multicooker, which is an electric pressure cooker that also has functions for slow cooking, sautéing, steaming and yogurt making—all in a single pot.) But based on the cooking device’s popularity, I decided to give it a try and have become a semi-convert. But, first, there was a bit of a learning curve—which is what I wrote about in my first Instant Pot Diary. Then I decided to try out making yogurt, as well as the vegan staple rice and beans, something I could happily eat every day. This week I write about my experience cooking yummy Butter Chicken.

Butter Chicken

Butter chicken, butter chicken, butter chicken. This Indian dish (also known as murgh makhani) is a signature of the IP community—with good reason. Butter chicken is scrumptious. Think chunks of boneless chicken in a velvety, creamy, tomato-y sauce redolent with fresh ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, cayenne and garam masala. Preparing it the traditional way calls for marinating the chicken overnight and stovetop simmering for up to an hour the next day. In 2017, data scientist, food blogger and cookbook author Urvashi Pitre created and posted a vastly simplified Instant Pot butter chicken recipe that went viral. (Search for “butter chicken recipe” and one of the first links that comes up is likely to be The New Yorker’s 2018 profile of “Butter-Chicken Lady” Urvashi.) Recipes for butter chicken abound, but surely this must be the gold standard. I’m excited to take my first foray into preparing a main-course-type dish that requires multiple steps and ingredients. This is what it’s all about, right? I follow the recipe in The New Yorker, but suggest using the more detailed version on Urvashi’s website that includes dairy substitutions, should you wish to avoid butter and cream. Here’s what I do (be sure to follow Urvashi’s recipe for the specifics):

  1. Combine a can or tetrapak of diced tomato (with liquid) and most  of the spices in the liner pot
  2. Place chicken pieces on top, cook under pressure for 10 minutes with a natural release
  3. Remove chicken from pot and set aside
  4. Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce (still in the liner pot)
  5. Stir in remaining spices, butter and cream
  6. Finish by adding chicken back in with sauce and heating through
  7. Serve with rice, cucumber or zucchini “zoodles,” etc.

Difficulty: Easy
Rating:  (so good, so flavorful)
Note: An immersion blender is required.
Good to know: Butter chicken is easier to make than yogurt.
Bottom line: Dishes like stews, curries and soups all play to the strengths of the Instant Pot.

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