Malai Chicken Curry, or Murgh Malai, is a creamy and flavorful dish combining tender chicken pieces in a rich, luscious white gravy. This delectable chicken curry in white gravy is a favorite among chicken lovers for its creamy texture and exquisite taste.

Malai Chicken in White Gravy in pan
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Malai Chicken represents the essence of Mughlai cuisine. It is a favorite dish to order at restaurants because of its rich and luxurious flavors. It is often enjoyed on special occasions and can also be a comforting weeknight meal at home, similar to my chicken kali mirch and methi chicken recipe.

My kids find many Indian chicken curries spicy. However, this creamy malai chicken curry is their favorite. It is mild but still very flavorful, just like my coconut chicken curry recipe. The tender chicken pieces, coated in the creamy sauce, are so delicious.

What is Malai? 

Before we delve into the recipe, let’s understand what “malai” means. Malai is a Hindi term that translates to “cream” in English. It signifies the luxurious and creamy texture of cream or milk dishes.

In the context of Malai Chicken Curry, it represents the smooth and delightful sauce that coats the chicken pieces.

What is Malai Chicken Curry (Murgh Malai)? 

Malai Chicken Curry is a popular Indian dish that originates from Mughlai cuisine. This curry has chicken cooked in a creamy sauce made in a base on onions and heavy cream.

It features succulent pieces of chicken marinated in a zesty blend of lime, salt, and white pepper powder. The marinated chicken is then cooked in a creamy white gravy made from a mixture of onions, green chili, ginger, garlic, and cashews.

Adding aromatic spices like garam masala and kasoori methi enhances the flavors, resulting in an indulgent and comforting dish.

Authentic murgh malai is a white chicken curry. However, if you like the yellow-orange hue in your curries, add some turmeric or saffron to it.

Chicken Malai Curry ith naan on the side

Ingredients 

Malai Chicken ingredients
  • Boneless chicken thighs: They are used for their tender and juicy texture, making them perfect for this creamy curry.
  • Lime juice: It adds a tangy and refreshing flavor to the chicken.
  • Salt: Helps season the chicken and enhance its natural flavors.
  • White pepper powder: Adds a mild heat and subtle flavor to the marinade. You can also grind it fresh at home if you have white peppercorns.
  • Oil: Provides a base for the curry. I use canola or avocado oil.
  • Yellow onion: They make the base of this curry.
  • Green chili pepper: Adds a spicy kick to the curry. Adjust the quantity according to your preferred level of heat.
  • Ginger and Garlic: Use freshly chopped garlic and ginger. You can even use a store-bought ginger-garlic paste.
  • Cashews: Are used to thicken the curry and provide a creamy texture.
  • Ghee or butter: Adds richness and a buttery flavor to the curry.
  • Plain yogurt: Adds a tangy and creamy element to the curry.
  • Cream: It is used to make the curry rich, creamy, and luscious.
  • Garam masalaAdds a depth of flavor and warmth to the curry)
  • Dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi): It adds a unique flavor that enhances the overall taste of the curry.
  • Whole Spices: You’ll need green cardamom, black peppercorns, cloves, and cumin seeds.
  • Spices: You’ll need cumin powder, coriander powder, white pepper powder, and salt.

How to make Malai Chicken Curry?

Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of making this delightful Malai Chicken Curry:

  • We start with marinating the chicken pieces with lime juice, salt, and white pepper powder. Allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
  • While the chicken is marinating, let’s make the gravy for the curry. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  • Then add the sliced onions and fry them until they are translucent.
  • Then, add the green chili, ginger, garlic, and cashews. I chopped fresh ginger and garlic, as we are going to grind it with the onions to a paste. You can also use ginger and garlic paste.
  • Mix well and fry for 2 minutes.
  • Then transfer the mixture to a blender.
  • Once the ingredients have cooled down, add 1/4 cup of water and blend the ingredients into a smooth paste. Set the paste aside.
  • In the same pan, heat ghee or butter over medium flame. It is important to use ghee or butter here to get the extra flavor in the final dish.
  • Add the whole spices (green cardamom, black peppercorns, cloves, and cumin seeds) and sauté them for 30 seconds until they release their aroma.
  • Add the onion-cashew paste to the pan and fry it on medium heat for 5 minutes until the color changes. Make sure to keep stirring at regular intervals.
  • Add the marinated chicken pieces to the pan. Stir and fry on high heat for 4-5 minutes until the chicken turns white on the outside.
  • Add the spices (cumin powder, coriander powder, white pepper powder, and salt). Mix well and fry for another 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the whisked yogurt to the pan. Cook on low heat for approximately 3 minutes while stirring continuously until the oil separates.
  • Add water and stir well. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on low heat for 10-12 minutes until the chicken becomes tender.
  • Remove the lid and stir the curry. Now add the fresh cream and garam masala to make a creamy sauce. Mix everything.
  • Crush the kasoori methi between your palms and add it to the chicken curry. Stir well and let the curry simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Your tantalizing Malai Chicken Curry is now ready! Serve it hot with freshly made roti or naan for a complete and satisfying meal.
Malai Chicken with cashews on the side

Tips to Make Creamy Chicken Curry:

  • Marination: Ensure the chicken is well-marinated to enhance the flavors. I suggest to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
  • Cashews: I added cashews to thicken the gravy and add richness to the curry. To make this curry nut-free, you can skip the cashews.
  • Yogurt: When adding the yogurt to the sauce, ensure it is thoroughly mixed. Reduce the heat to a low setting before adding the yogurt. As soon as you add the yogurt, mix it immediately and stir it while it is cooked over low heat. 
  • Spice: Adjust the spice levels according to your preference by increasing or reducing the amount of white pepper powder and garam masala.
  • Kasoori Methi: Crush kasoori methi just before adding it to the curry to release its aroma and flavor.

Storage Suggestions: 

If you have any leftovers, store the Malai Chicken Curry in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. When reheating, gently warm it on the stovetop or microwave, adding a splash of water if needed.

I do not recommend freezing this curry as it can get lumpy once it is thawed.

What can you serve with Malai Chicken? 

Malai Chicken Curry pairs perfectly with Indian bread, such as freshly made roti, naan, or paratha.

You can also serve it with steamed basmati rice or fragrant jeera rice. Accompany it with a side salad or raita for a wholesome and satisfying Indian meal.

More Indian Chicken Recipes

5 from 9 votes

Malai Chicken Curry (Creamy White Chicken Curry)

Malai Chicken Curry, or Murgh Malai, is a creamy and flavorful dish combining tender chicken pieces in a rich, luscious white gravy. This delectable chicken curry in white gravy is a favorite among chicken lovers for its creamy texture and exquisite taste.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound Boneless Chicken thighs, cut into 2” pieces

For Marination

  • 1 tablespoon Lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon White Pepper Powder

For Curry

Spices

Instructions 

  • Marinate the chicken pieces with lime, salt & white pepper powder. Mix and set aside for 30 mins.
  • Heat oil in a large pan on medium-high heat and add the sliced onions. Fry on medium heat for 3 mins till the onions are translucent. Then add green chili, ginger, garlic, and cashews. Mix and fry for another 2 mins, then transfer to a blender.
  • Once the ingredients are mostly cooled, add 1/4 cup of water, blend to a smooth paste and set aside.
  • In the same pan, heat butter/ghee on medium flame. Add all the whole spices and let them saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add the onion-cashew paste made earlier and fry on medium heat for 5 mins till the color starts changing.
  • Add the marinated chicken pieces. Stir & fry on high heat for 4-5 mins till the chicken pieces are all white on the outside.
  • Add all the spices. Mix and fry on medium heat for 3-4 mins.
  • Change the heat to low, then add the yogurt. Cook on low heat for around 3 minutes while stirring continuously till the oil separates.
  • Add water and give a good stir. Cover with a lid and cook on low heat for 10-12 minutes till the chicken is tender.
  • Remove the lid and stir the curry. Add the fresh cream, garam masala and stir.
  • Crush the kasoori methi between your palms and add it in. Stir the chicken curry and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Malai Chicken Curry is ready. Serve it hot with fresh roti or naan.

Video

Notes

  • Marination: Ensure the chicken is well-marinated to enhance the flavors. I suggest to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
  • Cashews: I added cashews to thicken the gravy and add richness to the curry. To make this curry nut-free, you can skip the cashews.
  • Yogurt: When adding the yogurt to the sauce, ensure it is thoroughly mixed. Reduce the heat to a low setting before adding the yogurt. As soon as you add the yogurt, mix it immediately, and stir it while it is cooked over low heat.

Nutrition

Calories: 453kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 22gFat: 35gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 137mgSodium: 893mgPotassium: 460mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 429IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 82mgIron: 2mg

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten-free, Low Carb
Tried this recipe?Mention @pipingpotcurry or tag #pipingpotcurry!

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

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14 Comments

  1. OMG!!! Made this last night and it was so delicious. I am a sauce girl. If I want more sauce do I just double the water and cream? I don’t want to take away from the flavor if adding more liquid will change the taste.

    1. Hi Suzanne – If you want more sauce, double all the ingredients, except the chicken, to retain the same flavor. The onions, ginger, garlic, and spices all will add flavor to the perfect sauce. So glad you enjoyed the curry!

  2. One more question (apologies!): the recipe called for yellow onion, which is what I used when I made the dish (which was delicious!). But I notice in the photo of the ingredients above that red onion, rather than yellow, is being used. Does it make a difference? Is red preferable to yellow?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Donald – I usually use yellow onions for curries, but it is totally fine to use red onions if you don’t have yellow on hand (which is what my videographer did 😊).

  3. I finally made this recipe last night, and it was absolutely delicious—a wonderful combination of flavors! I loved the sauce with its occasional “surprise” burst of flavor from a bit of cardamom or clove. The dish was also quite filling because of the richness of the sauce.

    One thing I intentionally did wrong—but I don’t think it hurt the final result: when I’d made Chicken Kali Mirch some weeks back, I’d somehow misread the instructions and had accidentally ground the onions before cooking them. Because the result had been delicious anyway, I did the same thing here: instead of cooking the onion, chili, ginger, garlic, and cashews (as called for in step 2) before grinding them, I ground them first, still uncooked. (That also meant that I didn’t need the 1-1/2 T. of oil with which the onion mixture was to be fried.) Then I proceeded with the rest of the steps (from number 4 on), but instead of frying the paste for 5 minutes, as called for in step 5, I fried it for about 10 minutes to make up for the additional 5 minutes that the mixture would have been cooked in step 2. The result was delicious!

    One question I had though: What quantity of bottled ginger (in teaspoons) would equate to the 1 inch of ginger called for in the recipe? I guessed about 1 T., so that’s what I used. (I dislike having to peel ginger, so almost invariably will use bottled ginger, or sometimes even ginger paste, instead.)

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Donald – So glad you enjoyed the malai chicken curry. Thanks for sharing the changes you made.
      One thing I would mention – I have heard from some people that they sometimes find the curry becomes bitter if they don’t saute the onions first. Looks like you did not have that experience, so that is great.
      Regarding ginger – It is absolutely fine to use ginger paste. I would suggest to use about 2 teaspoons of ginger paste for 1 inch of ginger. I buy organic ginger and skip peeling it. I just wash it and grate as much as needed for the dish. I also sometimes get frozen ginger and garlic from Trader Joe’s which is in 1 teaspoon cubes. Here is a post about how to make ginger paste and store it in the freezer if you like – https://pipingpotcurry.com/how-to-make-ginger-paste/

    1. Hi SB – I added yogurt in step 8, after adding the spices and before adding the water to make the curry.