Best butter chickens in Singapore

One of the most iconic dishes in Indian cuisine, butter chicken – or murgh makhni in Hindi – is said to have originated in the 1950s at the Moti Mahal restaurant in Old Delhi. Its simple, highly adaptable make-up of tandoor-cooked chicken in a rich, tangy tomato cream sauce makes it a popular mainstay in Indian restaurants from Tokyo to Turin. The epicure team got its fill of myriad variations islandwide to bring you our top 10 picks in Singapore.
By epicure
Published on Saturday, 31 Oct 2015

*Updated on Wednesday, 16 Nov 2016

THE SONG OF INDIA
More fragrant and fiery red than most variations, The Song of India’s Chicken Tikka Khas Makhani tops our list for its roasty, robust flavour. The tomatoes are first oven-baked before they are puréed, coaxing sweet, sundried tomato-esque notes into the satin-smooth gravy. Only spring chicken cutlets are used, hence the noticeably juicier morsels of meat. 33 Scotts Road. Tel: 6836 0055. Book a table at The Song of India with Chope. 

TABLE BY RANG MAHAL
This deep yellow-hued Butter Chicken checks all the right boxes in the flavour department, but it is the chicken meat that is its definitive clincher. Bite-sized chunks of chicken thigh are first oven-baked then simmered in tangy tomato gravy till they are juicy and fall-off-the-fork tender. $24 gets you a generously sized portion and a smart casual ambience suited for corporate entertaining. 41 Seah Street.
Tel: 6403 6005

PUNJAB GRILL
Some like it rich. If that’s your preference, then Punjab Grill’s version of butter chicken won’t disappoint. Garlic-laced cashew cream is stirred into tomato purée and chilli powder to get a chunky, sunset orange gravy served over tandoor-baked chicken. A sprinkle of dried fenugreek adds an extra pizzazz to the otherwise nutty flavours. Attentive service staff regularly glide over to help with extra servings. #B1-01A The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 2 Bayfront Avenue. Tel: 6688 7395. Book a table at Punjab Grill with Chope. 

THE CURRY CULTURE SINGAPORE
Their three-year-old Cuppage outlet was packed with guests when we visited during dinner on a weekend. The murgh makhni arrived piping hot in a handi, or traditional North Indian pot. We detected hints of pleasant tang from the yoghurt and tomato purée; the fenugreek, butter and cream elevated the aroma of the mild curry. Despite the gravy's thick and velvety texture, it wasn't too overwhelming, and the generous slabs of chicken were moist with a hint of smokiness from the grill. Needless to say, we polished off all that golden goodness with our fluffy saffron basmati rice. Cuppage Terrace, 31 Cuppage Road. Tel: 6235 6133


SHAHI MAHARANI NORTH INDIAN RESTAURANT
Since opening in 1997, Shahi Maharani has become an institution for Indian fine dining, and it’s easy to see why locals, businessmen and tourists flock there. Their recipe for Chicken Mukhanwala is mostly textbook perfect, but with one significant difference: the restaurant eschews tradition by doing away with honey or sugar to sweeten the gravy. Instead, they rely on the natural sweetness of onions and tomatoes to give the decadent curry that subtle saccharine punch it needs. Chicken leg is also initially undercooked in the tandoor to ensure that the meat comes out tender after simmering in the sauce. #03-21B Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Road. Tel: 6235 8840. Book a table at Shahi Maharani North Indian Restaurant with Chope. 

ZAFFRON KITCHEN
Dining at Zaffron Kitchen can be quite an intense experience – the restaurant flaunts an open kitchen, so customers are privy to the sight of chefs cooking up a storm. The smell of spices also wafts around the space and clings to your clothes. But that got us even more in the mood for our butter chicken, which the restaurant executed perfectly. Succulent chunks of cubed meat rest snugly on a bed of rich, creamy sauce, its mild sweetness elevated with a drizzle of yoghurt. 137 East Coast Road. Tel: 6440 6786. Book a table at Zaffron Kitchen with Chope. 

PIND BALLUCHI BAR & GRILL [CLOSED]
This contemporary restaurant’s take on the North Indian chicken dish is well-executed. Roasted chicken strips are simmered in an amber gravy of creamy tomato, and served with a drizzle of cream for added richness. It is buttery and smooth, like silk on the palate, and packs a mouthful of flavour. #01-15, 3B River Valley Road. Tel: 6337 7350

RAS THE ESSENCE OF INDIA
The flavour of the butter chicken here is on the sweeter side and packs more heat than most. One can distinctly taste the base of onion and tomato with masala, as the cream and butter has been toned down. Mixed with the spicy red gravy are succulent chunks of grilled fowl in bite-sized pieces. #01-05A, 3D River Valley Road. Tel: 6837 2800

TANDOOR
Their yoghurt-and-chilli-marinated chicken is bathed in a velvety red pool of salted butter, coriander, fenugreek, cashew paste and tomatoes. Cooked on skewers in a tandoor, the chicken boasts a deep, slightly caramelised flavour. Even though the serving is small compared to some others we’ve tried, their version is stunning in its richness and depth of flavour, so the small portion is enough to satisfy. Basement 1, Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre, 11 Cavenagh Road. Tel: 6733 8333. Book a table at Tandoor with Chope. 

YANTRA
With white tablecloths, elegant furnishings, and wine shop Soma, it’s only natural that we entered Yantra with high expectations. True enough, they didn’t disappoint. Their Murgh Makhni arrives still steaming with a heady butter and fenugreek aroma. Chicken chunks are first marinated with spices and Greek-style yoghurt then grilled in the tandoor. The meat is simmered with butter in a tomato, onion and cashew nut gravy to yield a creamy and flavourful accompaniment to rice or flatbreads. #01-28/33 Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Road. Tel: 6836 3088. Book a table at Yantra with Chope.