East London Butter Chicken with Rice by Ili Sulaiman

Learn to cook this satisfying, one-plate rice dish!

Serves 2 / Prep time : 30 minutes / Cooking time: 30 minutes / Level: Intermediate / Hearty dinner

For the chicken marinade

250g boneless chicken, cut into chunks

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

1 tbsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp ground fenugreek

1/4 powdered turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 garlic clove, pounded to a paste

1/2cm ginger, pounded to a paste

6 tbsp yogurt

For the sauce

20 cashew nuts, soaked overnight in water

2 large tomatoes, scored and soaked in hot water to remove skin, and chopped

1 white onion, chopped finely

2 garlic cloves, chopped finely

2cm ginger, pounded to a paste

2 tbsp butter

1 cinnamon stick

2 cardamom seeds

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp ground fenugreek

1/2 tsp chilli powder

100ml cream

2 green chillies, sliced thinly

1 handful fresh coriander

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

100ml water


  1. In a bowl, mix well all ingredients for marinade. Add chicken and marinate for at least 4 hours.
  2. In a skillet or a hot pan, brush as much marinade off chicken as possible. Brown meat on each side, batch by batch, and set aside.
  3. Blitz chopped tomatoes and cashew nuts to a smooth pulp.
  4. In the same pan used to cook chicken, add butter and sauté onion, garlic, ginger paste, and green chillies for about 3 minutes before adding cinnamon stick and all spices. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add a dash of water if too dry.
  5. Add in tomatoes and cashew nut purée. Season with salt and sugar, mix well and simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes. Add water if needed.
  6. Combine with chicken and cook for another 15 minutes, then add in cream and coriander . Fold, and turn fire off.

Tips & tricks

Yogurt is such a great tenderiser for meat – add a bit of it to chicken, lamb or beef.