This easy butter chicken recipe takes one of my favorite Indian curry dishes and makes it dairy-free and healthy.
One of my biggest goals of putting together the recipes for the SIBO Made Simple book was to show you that you can still have your favorite foods from across the globe. For me, takeout always feels like an indulgence even if what I’m ordering is not inherently unhealthy. And perhaps because I’ve been low FODMAP and gone through so many other oppressive dietary iterations in the last decade, that indulgence was not available to me very often.
Which is all to say that for those SIBO Amigos lamenting their favorite authentic Indian takeout, I knew I needed to put together a delicious Butter Chicken Recipe that keeps all the anti-inflammatory spices and gut-healing fats, but tables the garlic, onion and heavy cream.
Though I always think of it as an Americanized dish, butter chicken curry originated in India as a happy accident—a way to repurpose leftover tandoori chicken in a rich tomato gravy with cream and butter, which is the rough translation of its first name: murg makhana. In the 70’s, it appeared on a menu in New York City with the name “butter chicken.” The name and dish, in all its creamy glory, is now one of the most popular Indian delicacies in this country.
Since I made all the recipes in the book allergy-friendly, in addition to low FODMAP, I replaced the heavy cream with a cup of coconut milk from the thicker half of the can, and the butter with ghee, a clarified butter that doesn’t have any lactose. Though it is still a fat, ghee is rich in vitamins and can help the body absorb other vitamins and minerals coming into the plant. This is one of the reasons why healthy fats are such a boon to those of us with damaged guts who struggle with reaping the rewards of our vegetables and supplements.
It may seem like a lot of ghee, but that’s what will give this healthy version of Butter Chicken its requisite richness. A big helping of turmeric and ground ginger are also a boon to digestion and up the healing properties.
Many authentic butter chicken recipes (including my favorite takeout spot) will include a good hit of heat. Since most people on SIBO healing diets can’t handle too much spice, I kept it mild. But if you want more fire, add a halved jalapeño to the sauce as it simmers or a few pinches of cayenne to the spice mixture.
If you’re not low FODMAP, you can feel free to add some garlic and shallot to the spices and also use the full can of coconut milk instead of stock!
This should give you a taste of all the deliciousness to come in the SIBO Made Simple book. If you haven’t pre-ordered yet, definitely do so before Jan 18th! You can submit your receipt here and get access to my free Gut Heal Bootcomp that kicks off that week.
Don’t want to wait until then? Well I will be holding your hand and walking you through how to make this curry and two other fabulous vegetarian dishes from the book in this week’s Gut Healing Cooking Class. Anyone who pre-orders gets a free class pass, or you can join for just $30 here. There are only a few spots left! Can’t wait to cook up these curries with you.
With health and hedonism,
Mild and Creamy Butterless Butter Chicken (Low FODMAP)
This recipe is republished from my book SIBO Made Simple. If you steer clear of the dishes that have added cream and a little too much butter, Indian cuisine can be incredibly soothing for your gut. The curries and sauces are usually packed to the gills with digestive spices, fresh ginger, and anti-inflammatory turmeric. Butter chicken is one of those generic Americanized dishes that leans heavier on the dairy than the spice blend. I kept my version mild and heat-free, but still relatively creamy thanks to ghee and coconut milk. Add a halved jalapeño to the sauce as it simmers or a few pinches of cayenne to the spice mixture if you want more fire. If you’re not Low FODMAP, you can use the full can of coconut milk and omit the stock.
- 4 tablespoons grass-fed ghee or coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup low FODMAP chicken stock page 000
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
In a large lidded saucepan, heat the ghee or coconut oil over a medium-low flame. Add the turmeric, cumin, garam masala, ginger and tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes, until a fragrant paste forms.
Carefully stir in the coconut milk, chicken stock, lemon juice and salt. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat until slightly reduced and golden in hue, 10 minutes. Fold in the chicken and continue to simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Place the lid on the pan simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is tender enough to break apart with your spatula. Serve immediately with the cilantro as garnish.