Asian recipes/ Chicken/ Curry/ Dinner/ Indian recipes/ One-pot recipes

Butternut Squash Butter Chicken

4 November 2022

Ok, so I think this was one of the best curries I’ve ever made, the gravy was rich and full of flavour and the butternut squash gave a great texture to the dish. Because I added the pumpkin I needed less chicken, a great way to use less meat! 

The recipe was inspired by @littlespicejar although I did adjust a few things along the way. For the full recipe see the link in my bio!

Butternut Squash Butter Chicken

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Dinner Indian
By Saffron & Little Spice Jar Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 50 minutes Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes + marinading time


  • Chicken marinade
  • 400 g boneless chicken thighs, cut into bitesize cubes (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons tandoori masala
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder (optional, leave out if you want to keep it mild)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 cm ginger, grated
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, grated
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • The sauce:
  • 2 cups cubes butternut squash
  • 2 + 1 tablespoons ghee (see notes)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cm ginger, grated
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes, or 3-4 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 - 2 tsp kashmiri chili powder (optional, leave out if you want to keep it mild)
  • 2 tsp koriander powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tsp salt (more to taste)
  • 200 - 250 ml coconut cream (see notes)
  • Small handful unsalted cashew nuts (optional, see notes)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • To serve
  • Fresh koriander
  • Yoghurt to drizzle


The chicken


Mix all the marinade ingredients together and add the chicken, stir to coat all the pieces. Cover, place in the fridge and let marinade for at least 30 minutes, ideally 12 - 24 hours.

The sauce


Heat the ghee in a large heavy based pan and add the onions. Sauté for 6-7 minutes on low heat without letting the onions brown.


Add the grated ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stir so it doesn't burn.


Add the tomato paste, stir and sauté for 2-3 minutes.


Pour in the tomatoes and add the cumin powder, koriander powder, chili powder, fenugreek leaves and salt. If using, add the cashew nuts.


Pour in 1/4 cup of water and let bubble away on medium heat for ± 5 minutes.


Remove from the heat, let cool slightly and add to a blender. Mix until smooth (± 1 - 2 minutes) and set aside.


Make ahead option: see notes!



Add a tablespoon of ghee to the pan and fry off the butternut squash with a pinch of salt until starting to brown on all sides, ± 3 minutes. The cubes don't need to cook through yet. Remove from the pan and set aside.


Add more ghee or oil if needed and add the chicken pieces. I would recommend to do this in batches so there is enough room in the pan and the chicken browns instead of steams.


Let the chicken sear and char on all sides until just underdone (it will continue to cook in the sauce).


Add the pumpkin and all the chicken to the pan.


Pour in the blended sauce, the coconut cream, a pinch of sugar and 1 teaspoon garam masala. Stir and let bubble away for ± 15-20 minutes until the pumpkin is cooked through.


Just before serving add a knob of butter for extra shininess and richness.


Serve with some fresh koriander, a few dollops of yoghurt, naan and / or white rice.


  • You can also use chicken breasts but this meat can be a bit more dry in texture. What would help is to marinade it for at least 12 hours, but not necessary if you don't have the time.
  • If you can't find ghee you can replace it with 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon oil.
  • For a richer creamier sauce you could also use full fat cream, then 1/2 a cup should be enough.
  • The cashew nuts make a thicker and richer sauce but if you don't have any lying around no problem at all!
    • This is a great dish to make ahead! Prepare the sauce up until blending it and store either in the fridge for use within a 2-3 days or in the freezer for longer.

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