Quick, easy, and healthy! This lighten-up Dairy-Free Indian Butter Chicken is gluten-free, paleo, and top 8 allergy-free! A delicious dinner recipe starting with a simple coconut yogurt marinade, then cooked right in a single skillet with a creamy tomato-based sauce!
Let’s get real. High calorie, high fat, high DIARY, yet delicious, indulgent Indian comfort food may be okay on occasion, but let’s make it okay for any night of the week and for any dietary needs! Good thing it only takes a few simple swaps to make your craving for Indian Butter Chicken a healthier, dairy-free reality! You get the same cozy, creamy, flavor-packed chicken dinner with all the aromatic Indian spices, but not of the heavy dairy to weigh you down or cause your throat to close-up!
What exactly is Indian Butter Chicken?
Well, my friend, if you’ve never had butter chicken, than you’re in for a treat! (And no, it’s not just chicken and butter, haha!) It’s simply chicken, marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, and spices. Then cooked in a tomato-based sauce or gray with a hint of butter, cream, and more spices. The traditional dish was first “accidentally” created by 3 restaurateurs at the Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi, Indian back in the 1950s (so a relatively “new” dish). They took leftover chicken (this is why the chicken is cubed), and mixed it with a creamy tomato gravy with butter and cream.
There are so many delicious components to this dish. So many flavors that burst out at you with each and every bite. That tends to be the standard in Indian cuisine. So many beautiful aromatic spices and herbs; so much deep flavor! The selection of flavors is always intentional and not something you can “skip”. A pinch of this and a dash of that makes all the difference! But don’t worry! It’s still easy to make and I made all the spices and flavors commonplace and accessible. Spices like cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, paprika, pepper, chili powder, and pre-mixed garam masala.
What swaps are made in a dairy-free Indian butter chicken recipe?
Where we will be deviating from the “norm” with this dairy-free Indian butter chicken is breaking out some coconut-based dairy swaps to keep this not only dairy-free, but top 8 allergy-free (no nut-based or soy-based swaps), gluten-free, and paleo. First, we are marinating the chicken in coconut yogurt (essential!). Then for the actual cooking process, we’re using my favorite vegan/soy-free butter, Melt (which is coconut-based actually), and a splash of thick coconut milk for that tomato gravy sauce. To thicken the sauce even more, a dash of arrowroot starch does the trick!
What’s the best way to serve Indian butter chicken?
Serve it with something that’s going to soak up ALL that delicious creamy tomato gravy sauce! Rice, gluten-free naan (would you guys like to see my recipe for naan?). It you’re paleo and want things grain-free, cauliflower rice or some grain-free tortillas/bread/wraps can do the trick. Something with some “soaking power”. You won’t be wanting to leave a bit of sauce in your bowl or on your plate (believe me!)
Easy Dairy-Free Indian Butter Chicken
- 2 Large Skinless Chicken Breasts (cubed)
- ½ Cup Unsweetened Coconut Yogurt
- 1 Tsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Shallot (chopped)
- 1 Tsp Minced Garlic
- 1 Tsp Garam Masala
- 1 Tsp Chili Powder
- ½ Tsp Cinnamon
- ½ Tsp Turmeric
- ½ Tsp Cumin
- ½ Tsp Ground Ginger
- ½ Tsp Paprika
- ¼ Tsp Black Pepper
- 2 TB Melt Organic Butter
- ½ Cup Plain Tomato Sauce
- ¼ Cup Full-Fat Canned Coconut Milk
- 1 TB Tomato Paste
- 1 TB Arrowroot Starch
- In a large bowl, combine the cubed chicken, coconut yogurt, lemon juice, and all the spices. Mix to coat and let marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
- In a large seasoned cast iron skillet, heat the skillet with the 2 tablespoons of butter before adding the marinated chicken and yogurt mixture straight into the hot skillet.
- Saute the chicken, cooking over high heat for about 10 minutes.
- Now add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, coconut milk, and starch to the cooking chicken.
- Mix everything together in the skillet and continue to cook the butter chicken for another 8-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is thoroughly cooked through.
I think you can already tell that this Indian butter chicken is AMAZING reheated the next day too! Leftovers of chicken dishes are always my favorite, especially when they have a delicious creamy sauce! You know…using this dairy-free butter chicken in a wrap, you could make a mean Indian burrito! Ha! That would be delicious (I think we’ll have to give it a try!)
So tell me:
+ Have you ever had authentic Indian butter chicken?
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