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Mother butter chicken

Nisha Katona / 16 April 2018

Mowgli Street Food founder Nisha Katona shares her recipe for mother butter chicken, Mowgli's bestselling curry.

Mother butter chicken
Mother butter chicken from Mowgli Street Food. Photography by Yuki Sugiura.

Preparation time

10 minutes

Cooking time

50 minutes




  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large white onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 5cm/2 inch piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground fenugreek
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée/paste
  • 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 5 tbsp Greek-style yogurt
  • 750g/1lb 10oz bone-in chicken thighs, diced
  • 2 tbsp tandoori masala
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 80g/3oz/1/3 cup butter


This is by far Mowgli’s best seller. What makes it so addictive is the tang of the tandoori dressing marinade. I only make this at home when we have guests, otherwise the uncompromising aromas waft up the drive and can frighten the neighbours.

1. Put the oil in a large heavy pan and set over a medium-high heat. When hot add the diced onion, ginger and garlic and fry for 8 minutes or until the onion has softened and turned golden brown. Turn the heat down to low and add the cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, ground fenugreek, turmeric, chilli powder, tomato purée, canned tomatoes and Greek-style yogurt, stir well and cook for a further 5 minutes. Blend the mixture with a hand-held/immersion blender until it turns into a smooth sauce, then set aside.

2. Rub the tandoori masala into the diced chicken then, in a separate large non-stick frying pan set over a medium-high heat, fry for 6 minutes or until the chicken starts to change colour and brown at the edges.

3. Add the browned chicken to the blended sauce. Return to a low heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Add upto 500ml/17fl oz/2 cups water slowly to achieve the consistency of sauce that you like. Add the salt and sugar and finish by stirring the butter through to create a thick and creamy sauce. Don’t be afraid to add more water to loosen the sauce to your taste.


From Mowgli Street Food: Stories and recipes from the Mowgli Street Food restaurants by Nisha Katona. Nourish Books, 2018. Commissioned photography by Yuki Sugiura. Hardback.

Visit our Indian recipe section for a whole range of cookery ideas


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.