Celebrating New Traditions Around The Table {Turkey Makhani Recipe}

Do you like Butter Chicken? This recipe has all of that warm comfort but is made with turkey strips. Interested, yet? This turkey makhani recipe is my take on an Indian classic, reworked for our Canadian kitchen.

I have a confession to make.  I love Christmas!

From a dressed-up tree to shiny ornaments, the caroling, even the late-night present wrapping doesn’t thwart me. I’m one of those people who get excited when decorations go up in stores in late October!  I take it as a sign that our lights can go up.  Who am I kidding…our lights have been up since Diwali in the fall.

Celebrating New Traditions Around the Table | Turkey Makhani Recipe | Maple and Marigold


I grew up in India where Christmas ranked well after Diwali, Holi, Lohri and Eid.  The last quarter of the year is already packed with festive celebrations and so Christmas tends to draw the short straw. In India.

Not in Canada!

My husband and I moved from India to Canada almost 15 years ago.  In this time we have made new friends, put down roots, and pulled them back up only to move across the country and back again.  Over the years we have made tons of memories and new traditions, especially since the kids came on the scene.  Celebrating Christmas and the holiday season at the end of the year has become one of our family’s favourite new traditions.

Celebrating New Traditions Around the Table | Turkey Makhani Recipe | Maple and MarigoldGATHER AROUND THE DINNER TABLE

Celebrations in India often take place around food and drink.  Christmas in Canada is no different.  It’s a great time to get together with family and friends and celebrate, and take a breather.

Along with making new traditions, life in Canada has brought about two big changes in our lifestyle and our kitchen.

Our food preferences have changed over the years.  I love experimenting with fresh Canadian ingredients and incorporating them into traditional Indian recipes.  Our diet restrictions have also changed. A lot of the food I make today is allergy-friendly to accommodate a number of food sensitivities in our family.


Recently when the people at Canadian Turkey reached out to me to share with you one of my family’s favourite recipes, I jumped at the chance.

Chicken Makhani or Butter Chicken as its commonly known is a “special meal” in many South Asian homes.  In the past, I rarely made this dish at home because of the multiple steps and the time it takes to put together.  The word “makhani” means “of butter,” and yes, there’s traditionally tons of butter and ghee and cream in the gravy.  But the reference is to making the sauce “smooth as butter – makhani,” and that takes time.  Once the Makhani sauce is ready you can add the protein of your choice, normally it’s either chicken or paneer.  But as you’ve gathered by now I’m not one for hanging onto old traditions for the sake of it.  I’m not one for standing for hours in the kitchen making recipes the traditional way.

So here’s my dairy-free makhani recipe using Canadian turkey – a healthy and robust protein that is easy to cook and holds up really well to bold Indian spices.  I hope you like this dish.  It comes with my shortcuts and healthy tweaks so that we can make this traditional Indian dish even on a crazy weeknight!


This recipe, like all the others on my site has been tried and tested on my family of four picky eaters.  I tend to use fewer spices to accommodate my kids’ palate.  This dish though has bold flavours which can be mellowed down with coconut milk.

Celebrating New Traditions Around the Table | Turkey Makhani Recipe | Maple and Marigold


Prep Tips From My Kitchen

Meal Prep Tips from my kitchen | Maple and Marigold

  • Roast and grind the spices beforehand.  Use double the quantity or even more if you intend to make this dish again and again.  The spices will store well in a cool, dry cupboard for more than 6 months.
  • With this recipe, you will end up with more sauce than you need.  Pour the remaining out in a mason jar and freeze.  You have another Turkey Makhani in your near future.
  • Marinate and cook extra turkey strips.  Freeze what you don’t need today, and that next Turkey Makhani can be made on a crazy busy weeknight.  You can thank me in the comments below!
  • If you’re hesitant about cooking with turkey, it may be a new protein for you, see these tips from Canadian Turkey.
Disclaimer: I have been compensated by Canadian Turkey as part of their #TryTurkeyToday campaign to share this Turkey Makhani recipe with you. The narrative and opinion as always is mine.

Celebrating New Traditions Around the Table | Turkey Makhani Recipe | Maple and Marigold


Celebrating New Traditions Around the Table | Turkey Makhani Recipe | Maple and Marigold

Festive Turkey Makhani Recipe

Print Recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 hungry people
Author Puneeta


For the Roasted and Ground Spices

  • 1 tsp whole Coriander Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole Cumin Seeds
  • 1/3 tsp black Peppercorns
  • 2 Cloves
  • 1 Black Cardamom
  • 2 Dried Red Chilli (Optional)

You could use a store-bought Garam Masala or Butter Chicken Masala blend if you would like to skip this step. If you're using store-bought spices, use a little less till you're sure of the flavours. Every spice blend is unique.

For the Gravy

  • 2 cups roughly chopped Tomatoes Approx. 5 tomatoes
  • 1 cup roughly chopped Onions (I prefer red or purple for Indian dishes)
  • 2 Green Chillies (stems popped off)
  • 4 Garlic cloves
  • 1 in small piece of Ginger
  • 2 Green Cardamoms seeds only

Finish the dish

  • 2 tbsp Coconut oil
  • 400 gms Turkey Strips
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder or paprika
  • 1 tsp dried Fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tsp of roasted spice blend
  • 1 Bayleaf
  • 1 Small Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 cup Coconut milk


For the Roasted and Ground Spice Blend

  • Roast for a few minutes in a dry, hot pan.
    Grind in a spice grinder (or a coffee grinder but you can't use it for coffee again - the aroma will remain forever).
    Paneer Makhani Recipe | Indian vegetarian recipe Maple and Marigold.com

For the Makhani sauce

  • Add everything in a pan with a lid with a tiny space for steam to escape.
    I have a saucepan with a lid that has a hole to allow the steam to escape. You could also prop the lid up with a wooden spoon. 
    Celebrating New Traditions Around the Table | Turkey Makhani Recipe | Maple and Marigold
  • Cook on medium heat for 30 mins while you do other things in the kitchen.
  • Blend with an immersion blender to a very fine velvety smooth texture. 
    If the texture isn't smooth, strain the sauce first before using it.
  • Freeze half for a meal another day. 

For the Turkey Makhani

  • While the Makhani sauce is bubbling away on the stove, get a pan hot with a tsp of ghee.
  • Add the bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
    Add turmeric and Kashmiri red chilli powder and a sprinkle of salt to the pan
  • Add strips to the pan and toss and cook for 10 mins.
  • Pour the Makhani sauce in and toss
  • Simmer for a minute. This will sputter at high heat. Keep a lid ready to protect yourself.
  • Add cup of coconut milk to the gravy. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Rub the fenugreek leaves on your palm and add in the curry.
  • Stir and simmer for another couple of minutes.
  • Serve with a swirl of coconut milk and a sprinkle of the spice blend alongside naan or rice.
 Celebrating New Traditions Around the Table | Turkey Makhani Recipe | Maple and Marigold

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About Puneeta

Author, Educator, Speaker

Puneeta is a writer, food advocate and guide for those who seek earth-friendly, delicious solutions that work for real life.

Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma, Food Writer, Climate Advocate, New cookbook - Good Food, Healthy Planet - out April 2024
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
Photo by Diana Muresan
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