Malai chicken is a Indian style creamy chicken dish where marinated chicken is simmered in a spicy masala and cream. It is super delicious & uniquely flavorful with incredibly soft & succulent pieces of chicken. It goes well with Indian flatbreads like Butter Naan, roti or paratha. We eat this even with plain basmati rice or jeera rice.
Actually malai chicken is basically a Punjabi dish where chicken is simmered with milk and spices. It is also called as murgh malaiwala & is most commonly seen on the menus of Indian restaurants serving authentic North Indian food.
However there are different versions of malai chicken served in restaurants and is mostly a region based thing. So the recipe I have shared here is not the Punjabi dish but it is a variation & tastes extremely good. This recipe was inspired from a malai chicken that I got to eat in Bangalore many years ago.
Name this whatever!! But give this recipe a try. I am sure you will be in love with my version of malai chicken. The recipe is pretty easy. Briefly saute the chicken and then marinate it with yogurt, tomatoes, herbs and spices.
Tips to make malai chicken
An overnight marination not only helps the chicken soak up all the flavors but also make it so tender, juicy and succulent. Later cook the chicken along with the marinade on a very flame.
Then to finish off and balance the tang add as much cream as you like. So this recipe like the murgh malaiwala uses no milk at all.
If you like to further simply the dish then use tomato paste instead of cooking down the pureed tomatoes.
There is one more ingredient which brings a unique flavor to the dish. That is fried onions. These are the same deep fried onions used in making authentic Hyderabadi biryani.
However if you are on a low fat diet, then just fry the thinly sliced onions in 3 tablespoons oil until crisp and golden. They won’t turn as crisp as the deep fried onions but they will be flavorful. Alternately you may air fry the onions until crisp and golden or use store bought onions.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ½ kg chicken
- ½ to ¾ cup tomato puree (pureed tomatoes)
- ½ cup plain yogurt (avoid sour yogurt)
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste (or ½ tbsp fresh ginger paste, ½ tbsp garlic paste)
- ¼ cup fried onions (refer notes)
- 1 green chili (slit, optional)
- 8 to 10 mint leaves (fresh , very finely chopped)
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves chopped
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (adjust to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1½ teaspoon chicken masala powder (or garam masala, use good one, adjust to taste)
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek)
- ¼ cup heavy cream (more if needed, to balance)
- 2 tablespoons oil or butter (adjust if needed)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 green cardamoms
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds (or shahi jeera)
- 1 inch cinnamon piece
- 2 to 4 cloves
- 1 strand mace (single strand, skip if you don't have)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper corn (or crushed pepper, skip if you don't have)
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add all the whole spices and let them sizzle for 30 seconds. Be cautious as they may splutter.
- Add ginger garlic paste and sauté until a nice aroma comes out. Do not brown and burn this.
- Add chicken and fry on medium heat till it turns white or pale in color. This takes around 3 to 4 mins. Transfer this to a plate.
- Pour 1 teaspoon oil to the same pan, add pureed tomatoes and sprinkle salt. Cook this until all of the moisture evaporates and turns thick like a sauce. This step takes around 4 to 5 mins.
- Turn off the stove and transfer the chicken to the tomato mixture. Cool all of these completely. Cooling them is very important.
- Once cool, combine the chicken, tomato mixture, yogurt, fried onions, mint, coriander leaves, turmeric, green chili, red chili powder, salt & half of the chicken masala powder.
- Marinate the chicken, set aside for at least 1 hour. For best flavor, taste & tender meat marinate overnight in the fridge.
How to make malai chicken
- Heat 1 tablespoon butter or oil in a pan. Then add marinated chicken.
- Turn down the flame to lowest, Cover and cook till the chicken turns tender. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
- I do not add any water as the chicken releases some juices. However this depends on the kind of meat.
- Once the chicken is tender, add the rest of the chicken masala powder & kasuri methi. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 mins. If the curry looks runny, evaporate the excess moisture by cooking further (uncovered) on a higher heat. At the end of this step the curry must be quite thick since it will thin down after adding the cream.
- Add the cream and mix well. Taste test and add more salt or cream to taste. Garnish with more cream and coriander leaves.
- Serve malai chicken hot with roti, naan, chapati or basmati rice.
- Marinating overnight gives the best results. Chicken soaks up all of the flavors and turns extremely tender as it marinates in yogurt.
- Cook chicken on the lowest heat.
- Adjust the amount of chicken masala or garam masala as needed. There are several different brands selling them and each one is different so add more or less as needed.
- To make fried onions, slice 1 medium onion and fry them stirring constantly until golden and crisp. These are the same onions used to make biryani.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
This Malai chicken recipe is from the Archives and was first published in 2014.