Butter Chicken with Spiced Cashews

Butter Chicken with Spiced Cashews
Butter Chicken with Spiced Cashews
This image courtesy of Galdones Photography

I used to feel pretty conflicted about butter chicken. It’s pretty decadently delicious, but it’s so often poorly cooked and then doused with way too much cream to compensate. I changed my tune while writing this book, since almost every friend who came to dinner while I was testing recipes asked/dropped hints/begged for butter chicken. I cut down the amount of cream, so it isn’t as heavy, and added some—not traditional but highly recommended—puréed chipotle chiles in adobo sauce for a deeper, more complex, smokier flavor. 

Cooking MethodPressure Cooker


  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) ghee or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups (500 mL) finely diced onions
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons (15 mL) Kashmiri chili powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Garam Masala, store-bought
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, puréed or finely chopped
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 1 (14-ounce) can (398 mL) diced tomatoes (with juice)
  • 2 pounds (1 kg) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) raw cashew pieces
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) heavy or whipping (35%) cream
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh cilantro, divided


  1. Using the Sauté function on High, heat the ghee in the inner pot for about 1 minute, until shimmering. Add the onions and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes, until the onions are softened. Add the ginger, garlic, turmeric, 2 teaspoons (10 mL) chili powder, garam masala and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in the chipotles in adobo sauce, water, tomatoes (with juice) and chicken. 

  2. Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. 

  3. Meanwhile, toast the cashews in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, for 3 minutes, tossing the pan frequently, until lightly browned. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon (5 mL) chili powder and toss to coat. Set aside.

  4. Once the chicken is cooked, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick-release the remaining pressure.

  5. Remove the lid. If the sauce is watery, use the Sauté function on High to simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, until the sauce is reduced to the desired consistency. Stir in the cream and 1/4 cup (60 mL) cilantro. Transfer the chicken and sauce to a serving dish, garnish with the remaining cilantro and cashews and serve.


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