The Simple Way To Prevent Butter Chicken From Separating

There are so many delicious Indian foods that are basically considered 'required eating' that it's hard to keep track. And, of course, it's hard to find worthy iterations of them outside of their home country as well.

One dish that has been known to travel far and wide, though, is butter chicken. According to The New York Times, butter chicken has made its way from India to the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and beyond. It's no wonder, either with the delicious, complex flavors of the dish. NDTV states that butter chicken is a simple dish of tandoori chicken simmered in butter, cream, and tomato sauce with an abundance of spices and herbs. The beauty of this dish is the tender chicken and rich sauce that is complemented by the balanced tang and spice of the dish.

NDTV reports that the dish was allegedly invented in the Indian city of Delhi by KL Gujral. He found that the tandoori chicken pre-made in his restaurant would dry out and become unappetizing over time. So, instead, he decided to start repackaging the older chicken in a creamy, savory sauce, and butter chicken was born.

Save the butter for last

One of the keys to getting butter chicken just right is to nail the perfectly creamy sauce. While butter might be right there in the name, it's actually best to leave the butter out until the last step. 

MasterClass points out that one of the best ways to achieve a creamy sauce is to ensure that it has been emulsified completely. Fustinis states that emulsification is when water and an oil or fat mix together seamlessly into a sauce. The fat in the case of butter chicken is the butter itself. If the completed mixture is cooked for too long after it has been added, the sauce will separate. Then, instead of a unified, creamy base for your butter chicken, certain elements will separate in the sauce and ruin the texture.

MasterClass explains that the best way to avoid this is to fold the butter in toward the end of the process. This will prevent the sauce from overcooking and then separating. It's also important that if you're preparing butter chicken ahead of time, that the butter is kept separate until the dish is ready to be served. This addresses the same problem but allows you to get some of the prep work done ahead of time.

We also recommend cooking the dish in a slow cooker where the gentle heat will make for perfectly tender chicken, and a mellow cream sauce.