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Pressure Cooker Butter Chicken (Flavored with Essential Oils!)

Butter chicken is simple to make and commonly liked, even by those who don’t normally like Indian food. This version of butter chicken uses essential oils to achieve the exotic flavor of the dish. We used a pressure cooker (Instant Pot®) for this recipe, but you could let it simmer on the stove with similar results.

Butter Chicken with Essential Oils

Servings: 6–8 | Time: 15 minutes active; 30–40 minutes inactive | Difficulty: Moderate

Initial Ingredients:

  • 1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 5–6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. (3 g) turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. (1 g) cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. (2 g) paprika
  • 1 tsp. (6 g) salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. (2 g) garam masala
  • 2 lbs. (1 kg) boneless chicken thighs (see substitution note below)

Final Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) coconut oil or butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) coconut milk or heavy cream
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2 drops cumin essential oil
  • 1–2 drops coriander essential oil
  • 1 drop cardamom essential oil
  • 1 drop cassia essential oil
  • 1 drop clove essential oil
  • 1 drop black pepper essential oil
  • 1 drop ginger essential oil
  • 1/4–1/2 cup (15–30 g) fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Place all the initial ingredients into the pressure cooker. Mix the sauce well, and then place the chicken on top of the sauce.
  2. Seal the pressure cooker, and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before quickly releasing the remaining pressure.
  3. Remove the chicken, and set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  4. Using an immersion blender (or regular blender with care—the liquid is really hot!), blend up the sauce.
  5. Allow the sauce to cool a little before adding the butter, coconut milk, cilantro or parsley, nutmeg, and essential oils. If you add these items while the sauce is too hot, it will be a thin sauce. Just place it in the fridge for a little bit to help it thicken.
  6. Cut the chicken into chunks before adding back into the sauce.
  7. Serve over rice or zucchini noodles or with a side of naan.

Notes/Substitutions:

  • You can substitute some or all the chicken with tofu, steamed vegetables, or shrimp. Just add 1/4 cup (60 ml) water to the sauce before cooking, then add the substituted ingredients after cooking and heat until warm or cooked through.
  • You can use frozen chicken. Just push it into the sauce before cooking and add 1–2 minutes to the cook time.

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