Instant Pot: Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

When it comes to the Instant Pot, many assume it's only a pressure cooker. The great thing about the Instant Pot is that it can also be used as an electric skillet or electric pot as well. To demonstrate this, here's an Indian recipe for Chicken Makhani, also known as Indian Butter Chicken that I made in the Instant Pot without having to cook under pressure. I occasionally order this dish when we're dining at local Indian restaurants so I finally had a chance to try it home. The verdict? I think this was even better than the restaurant versions I've tried!...

When you see 'Butter Chicken' on an Indian restaurant menu, you might envision a greasy chicken dish if you're not familiar with it. However, this dish is far from greasy. In fact, it's extremely flavorful and one I find especially comforting when served with steamed basmati rice. Tender chunks of juicy chicken thighs are seasoned with garam masala and a pinch of cayenne pepper before being sauteed. Meanwhile, a rich tomato sauce simmers with hints of lemon juice, garlic, ginger and a myriad of spices (such as garam masala, cumin, chili powder and bay leaf). The browned chicken is added to this sauce along with half & half, a bit of yogurt and chopped fresh cilantro. Just before serving, ground cashews are mixed in to thicken the sauce which also adds a subtle nutty flavor. It's an aromatic dish with a bright color that sure to please! If you like your Indian dishes to be on the spicier side, increase the amount of cayenne pepper. Lastly, if you happen to come across ground fenugreek, add a 1/4 teaspoon to the sauce for a special, more authentic touch!

Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)
recipe adapted from AllRecipes

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 pinch cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy/hot)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup heavy cream or half & half
2 cups tomato puree
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely ground cashews

In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place.

Press SAUTE on the IP and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add chicken and season with 1 teaspoon garam masala and cayenne. Cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from IP and set aside.

While on SAUTE mode, add remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent. Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. 

Add tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in cream or half-and-half, yogurt and cilantro. 

Add the browned chicken and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Just before serving, add the ground cashews and stir. Serve over steamed basmati rice.

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