Instant Pot Indian: Anupy's Butter Chicken

July 13, 2022 2 Comments

Instant Pot Indian: Anupy's Butter Chicken
Instant Pot Indian: Anupy's Butter Chicken

My new book Instant Pot Indian releases early next year, but there is no reason you need to wait for my version of butter chicken. This recipe has it all and is hands down delicious. How will my new book be different? It offers thoroughly tested recipes for all three major sizes of the Instant Pot - 3-quart, 6-quart, and 8. Why is that important? Because not all recipes scale easily. This butter chicken is a great example. You cannot add a ton of water or you take away from the finished dish - but enough water is what helps operate a pressure cooker safely. Why, when you try to make this in a larger pressure cooker you often get the dreaded BURN signal. The first time I saw that I literally cried. Then, I got to thinking. How could I make this work? I decided to work with my pressure cooker rather than fight it. The key is to make use of your trivet in this recipe and essentially elevate ingredients from the bottom of the inner pot so that they never touch it during the cooking process. And, it's key to keep ingredients that easily burn and stick to the bottom as far away from the bottom of the inner pot as possible - tomatoes and tomato puree. That's what I've done. for you in the recipe below and in my book to come. I've thought about all the little details so that all you have to do is focus on the fun and delicious Indian food journey ahead. 

Desi Corner: Butter chicken is referred to as Murgh Makhani in Punjab. The story goes that its origins come from the legendary Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi. Regardless, it's a dish eaten more in restaurants than in homes in India and ordered even more in restaurants now outside of India. If you live in the West, most likely this one of your first introductions to Indian cuisine. 


Anupy's Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Pressure Cooker Size: 3 quart or larger *
Warm Up: 8 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Cool Down: 10 minutes NR + MR (if needed)
TOTAL: 33 minutes 
Makes: 4 – 6 servings

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (dairy or alternative) or ghee
1 green cardamom pod, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle **
1 black cardamom pod (no need to crush)
6 cloves, finely ground
1 cassia or 2 bay leaf
¼ cup almond flour ***
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 small yellow onion, pureed
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, pureed
6 cloves garlic, pureed
2-4 Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced or pureed
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons paprika (unsmoked)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
¼ cup water
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken, cubed
1 medium tomato, pureed
1 tablespoon unsalted tomato paste
½ cup half-and-half or heavy cream (dairy or alternative)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. Place the inner cooking pot in your Instant Pot. Select the SAUTE setting and adjust to NORMAL. When the indicator flashes HOT, add the butter or ghee, green and black cardamom, cloves, and cassia or bay leaves. Stir and cook for 1 minute. 

2. Add the flour. Stir and cook for 40 seconds. You can also use 1/2 cup of ground blanched almonds, all-purpose flour, or quinoa flour instead. 

3. Add the turmeric. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.

4. Carefully add the onion. The moisture can cause the oil to splatter. Stir and cook for 1 minute. 

5. Add the ginger, garlic, and fresh chiles. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

6. Add the garam masala, cumin, red chile powder, paprika, sugar, and salt. Stir and cook for 1 minute. 

7. Press CANCEL. Carefully remove the inner pot and place it on a heat-resistant surface. Once cool enough to handle, remove the contents to a bowl. Be sure to loosen anything stuck - a tablespoon of water helps as does warming the inner pot on the SAUTE setting until it is completely deglazed. 

8. Return the clean, empty inner pot to the base. Add the water and then place the trivet in the pot. Place the chicken on the trivet and then add the mixture from Step 7 on top of the chicken. Do NOT stir. 

9. Add the tomato and the tomato paste. Again, do not stir - the key is to avoid the tomato touching the bottom during the cooking process. 

10. Lock the lid into place and make sure the pressure release valve is set to the sealing position (upwards). Press the PRESSURE COOK button and then press the PRESSURE LEVEL button until the panel reads LOW. Adjust the cook time to 15 minutes. 

11. Once the cooking is complete, release the pressure naturally for up to 10 minutes. If needed, manually release any remaining pressure. Press CANCEL

12. Carefully open the lid and let the dish cool for 2-3 minutes. Once slightly cool, remove the trivet with tongs and stir the contents until the chicken is evenly coated. Remove and discard the green cardamom husk, the black cardamom and cassia or bay leaves or leave them in for flavor and eat around them. All the other spices are edible. Add the cream and stir gently until all the chicken pieces are coated. The cream holds up better once the dish cools slightly. Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati rice or Indian bread like roti or naan

* If making this in a larger Instant Pot, just increase the water to 1/2 cup for a 6-quart and 3/4 cup for an 8-quart. It is critical to have at least this much water when cooking to safely operate the Instant Pot. Also, the chicken will also release moisture during the cooking process. 

** I like to leave the husk in because it adds flavor. When you blend the mixture, it gets broken down and breaks down even more during the cooking process. If you prefer, just take the husks out.

*** I like adding almonds to my butter chicken for a creamier sauce, and almond flour is an easier way to do this. If you avoid nuts, then just leave this out. You can also replace it with the same amount of all-purpose flour to add a little thickness to your dish or ½ cup blanched, sliced almonds ground first in a food processor until smooth.

Your One and Done package includes:

  • 1 Butter Chicken recipe card
  • 1 green cardamom pod
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons red chile powder, and
  • 2 teaspoons unsmoked paprika) 

2 Responses


July 21, 2022

Dear Cynthia, I read your message and it truly made my heart soar. Thank you for your feedback. It keeps me going and doing what I do. And, yes, preserving food memories for our kids is why I do this so I am thrilled your kids loved the dish! Frozen meat will be perfectly fine. Just follow the guidelines to cook it a little longer. Indian food is so versatile once you have the key, basic recipe down. I hope you’ll thank your husband for me as well! xoxo Anupy


July 21, 2022

Hi Anupy,

I made this recipe today and I wanted to tell you what a hit it was with my picky 5 and 7 year old kids. My husband, who is not at all picky, was very impressed with it. I made a couple changes:

1. I used a 6 quart IP and I added 1 cup of water instead of a 1/2 cup. I am just so afraid to get that burn notice and frankly, we prefer more gravy anyway. It was so so so yummy.
2. I used boneless, skinless thighs instead of chicken breast. In the future if I use this meat I will hold back on the ghee.
3. I held back on the chili pepper because the kids cannot handle the heat of spices just yet.
4. I used coconut milk at the end in lieu of half and half.

I am curious if you think this can be made with frozen chicken? I am not always good at remembering to thaw meat in time and the IP is so great with frozen meat.

Growing up my father loved to cook and he cooked really, really well. This recipe reminded me so much of the chicken he used to make us before he passed away. Thank you.

I cannot wait for your new IP book to come out!! Congratulations to you!! I appreciate so much your efforts in modernizing Indian cooking so that we can share the flavors that we grew up with – with our kids.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Indian As Apple Pie Recipes

Stovetop: Basic Indian Saffron Rice
Stovetop: Basic Indian Saffron Rice

May 17, 2024

Continue Reading

Stovetop: Chickpea Cooking Tips
Stovetop: Chickpea Cooking Tips

May 02, 2024

Continue Reading

Stovetop: Spiced Black Chickpea Broth
Stovetop: Spiced Black Chickpea Broth

April 17, 2024

Continue Reading