Years ago, before we had kids, we lived just outside Philadelphia in a tiny little apartment, about 500 square feet. We were a little strapped back then, just out of college and newly married, but there was an awesome Indian restaurant about a mile from our apartment that we’d go to when we wanted an inexpensive date night. We’d sit in the back booth, start with a beer, and our order was always the same thing- Butter Chicken. Served with a heaping pile of rice and extra naan, it was unbelievably rich, absolutely delicious, and inevitably made us feel like garbage the next day. We ate there a million times, but in my foggy memory, I remember it always being raining, cold, and dark. It’s just the strange way my mind has it frozen, and these days I still crave Butter Chicken whenever it’s raining. Yesterday when it started to get dark and windy, I decided to quickly stop off at the store for everything I needed to make it at home. “
I’m always surprised at how easy it is to whip up a simmering skillet of Whole30 compliant Butter Chicken. To make it Whole30 compliant, paleo, and lactose-free, I simply used ghee and coconut cream where traditionally there would be butter and cream, and that was pretty much all that needed to be done!
Butter Chicken is one of those recipes that freezes beautifully, thankfully! I’d planned to make it for dinner last night, but I forgot I had a Sunbasket delivery scheduled for yesterday too, whoops (click here for 60% off Sunbasket)! I quickly changed my plans and made the Butter Chicken as a prepped lunch today, and I tucked a few containers in the freezer for those “Ugh, what am I gonna take for lunch?!” days.
Because here’s a real-life work from home confession: Eating lunch almost never happens the way it should. I’m usually scarfing down a handful of something at 11, a handful of something else around 12, and another couple of handfuls of stuff around 2. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? I can’t remember the last time I took a real lunch break, or even ate my lunch without doing something else at the same time. So one of the goals I set for myself this year is to prioritize my midday mealtime better. I’m trying to step away from what I’m doing for at least 15 minutes, and eat a real meal. No phone, no computer, and preferably, no kids either (I try to eat while they nap/rest). Just eating and fueling my body. I’m still not really doing that completely, and it’s still not an actual lunch hour, but it looks a whole lot more like one than it used to. Having a few prepped meals ready to go is making it a lot easier!
I just got these meal prep containers and they’re super handy for my meal prep goals — I love the measured compartments and bright colors! Check out the whole line of containers from my buddies at MPOF.
But back to the Butter Chicken! It gets a lot of its flavor from a spice blend called garam masala. You can get it in most grocery stores or on Amazon, or make your own by blending spices you probably already have in your pantry (I’ve use this recipe before). In a pinch, you can even substitute curry powder. It’ll be slightly different in flavor and color, but it’ll still have most of the basic flavors. I like to let the chicken marinate in the mixture of garam masala, turmeric, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, oil, and coconut cream overnight. The chicken is so tender and flavorful, seriously! If you want is sooner though, just give it 30 minutes to marinate.
Whole30 Butter Chicken Meal Prep
Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo, Low Carb
- 2 lb chicken preferably thighs (more flavor!) but breasts work too!
- 1/4 cup coconut cream
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp garam masala (see recipe below)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp ginger minced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tbsp ghee
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 cup crushed tomato
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 jalapeno optional
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 2 tbsp cilantro
- 4 cups cauliflower rice
- 1 lime sliced
Marinate the Chicken
Mince the garlic and ginger. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
Mix all the marinade ingredients together with the chicken. Cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.
Make the Sauce
Dice the onion and seed and dice the jalapeno, if using (wear gloves!). Mince the garlic and ginger.
In a large skillet, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and saute together for about 4-5 minutes or until softened.
Spoon the onion mixture into your blender and blend on high. Add the tomatoes, jalapeños, and seasonings and blend it all together once more until smooth.
Cook the Dish
Add the chicken to the same skillet, and brown the pieces on all sides for about 4 minutes.
Pour in the sauce and bring it to a simmer. Cook everything together over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced by about a third but is still creamy and dreamy.
Stir in the coconut cream and an extra tablespoon of ghee (optional). Season to taste with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with cilantro and serve with cauliflower rice and a squeeze of lime juice.
Are you into meal prepping? What are your favorite recipes to prep?? Let me know in the comments below!
Here’s another awesome Whole30 meal prep recipe – Curry + Carrot Chicken Salad!