Butter(less) Chicken/Paneer

Not only loved in India, butter chicken is adored by many other nations across the globe. I myself have few fonder memories than sitting around the coffee table with my family on a lazy Saturday night to a range of creamy Indian takeaway dishes – butter chicken having always been my favourite.

Since moving to the UAE, my consumption of the dish has risen; number one, because it’s the easiest thing to make out on an Indian menu here, and number two, because the dish tastes a lot more authentic in a country inhabited by over two million Indians themselves, so it’s bound to be a lot less westernised.


As somebody who doesn’t like to consume much dairy, I endeavoured to create a butter-free version of this traditional dish, and I was astounded by how well it turned out. This dish is as creamy as ever, it doesn’t have any additional sugar thrown into it, and it gives those Saturday night takeaways a run for their money!

This recipe can very simply be made vegetarian by adding cubes of paneer cheese cubes, or vegan by adding baked tofu cubes, instead of chicken.

This recipe serves 2 (big portions) and is:

Dairy free



    Chicken fillets, x2 or 250g
    Garlic paste, x1 tblspn
    Ginger paste, x1 tblspn
    Chilli flakes, x1/2 tblspn
    Olive oil, x3 tblspn
    Salt, pinch


    Onion, x1 medium
    Cashew butter, x5 tblspns
    Tomatoes, x2 medium
    Cashews, 50 g
    Garlic paste, x1 tblspn
    Vinegar, x1.5 tblspn
    Garam masala, x1.5 tblspn
    Chilli flakes, x1/2 tblspn
    Water, 1/2 cup


  1. Chop up the chicken fillets into equal sized strips and place in a mixing bowl. Add the garlic and ginger paste, chilli flakes, a pinch of salt and olive oil. Mix very well. Allow to marinade for ten mins.
  2. Place a large pan over medium heat and add the marinaded chicken. Fry until the chicken is cooked through fully, then place it aside for later use.
  3. Fry onions (after chopping) on the empty pan until they are soft and caramelized. Add the tomatoes (after chopping them) and stir them in well with the onions. Add the cashews, garlic paste, chilli flakes, garam masala, vinegar, water and cashew butter, stirring well until the mixture starts to thicken slightly.
  4. Blitz all of the contents in a pan into a smooth consistency, then re-add to the same pan.
  5. Add the chicken to the sauce and mix for 5-10 mins or until it all starts to bubble.
  6. Best served with brown rice or some whole wheat Naan bread.

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