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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Butter Chicken - Murgh Makhani

Ask any discerning non-Indian diner to name their top Indian curries and this one is sure to be on that hit list.  Butter Chicken in all its bright orange glory is by far the king of curries for me, as serving it up guarantees a well-deserved pat on the back and smacking of the lips!  It is said that the dish was created by an Indian chef in the nation’s capital – Delhi.  It was here that Kundan Lal Gujral humbly created the first Butter Chicken and put it on the menu at the now famous Moti Mahal restaurant in Daryaganj, Delhi.  I caught an episode of Rhodes Across India, on the Food Channel, where UK celebrity chef Gary Rhodes visited the original birthplace of Butter Chicken and met with the restaurant staff.  As a result they happily divulged the secrets of their prized recipe and this here foodie on the other side of the world saw it right to snap it up and cook it at home – and now here it is finally on this blog page to be immortalised forever (well as long as the internet exists anyway!)
After mastering this you can say goodbye to buying bottles of so called Butter Chicken pastes, or sachets of powders that are supposed to turn out this delicacy, but produce coloured chicken lacking in all things “buttery” or “chickeny” to say the least.  I have eaten Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani, as it is known in its hometown when I was in India, and when I first tasted the end product of this recipe – it really took me back.  I have since made it a number of times, and each time it does not fail to please me – and I am my worst critic - believe you me!
As with all special dishes you need to take your time i.e. once again this is not an after-work dinner that you can whip up from scratch.  There is at least an hour of simmering time and if you have not prepared the chicken beforehand, there is marinating and roasting time for that too.  I have already posted my recipe for Tandoori Chicken and it is notably the best place to begin this dish from.  Whenever I conjure up some tandoori magic I reserve a chicken or two for a Butter Chicken finale some time later.  So having said this if you make the Tandoori Chicken when time is not a factor, then you just may be able to dish some Butter Chicken up in just over an hour – after work perhaps, if you are game enough.  Either way it is well worth the reward, especially if Daryaganj in Delhi is not accessible to you.

Ingredients, to serve 4 
1 x Tandoori Chicken, prepared as per recipe and cut into pieces
1tbsp x Butter or Ghee to be traditional
2 clove x Garlic, chopped
5 x Cardamom, bruised
1 stick x Cinnamon
2 x Bay Leaves
3 x Whole Cloves
2 cans x Tomatoes, pureed in a blender
1tsp x Chilli powder
100g x Cashews, powdered into a paste with a little water
25g x Butter
1tsp x Cumin powder
1tsp x Garam masala powder
1tsp x Fenugreek seeds, grounds
1tbsp x Cream
Coriander to garnish

In a heavy pot heat the butter or ghee
Add in the garlic, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves and cloves
Fry gently to release aromas, do not allow the garlic to burn
Pour in the pureed tomato and stir in the chilli powder
Bring to the boil then turn heat down and cover pot
Allow to simmer for 45 minutes,
Do not allow tomatoes to dry too much adding a little water if required
When tomato mixture has cooked down carefully turn it into a sieve over a bowl
Strain mixture well pressing through the sieve
Discard the whole spices
Give the pot a wipe and return to the heat on medium
Melt the butter then add the cumin powder and toast lightly for 30 seconds
Return the sieved tomato mixture to the pot
Stir in the cashew paste and mix well to combine all ingredients
Bring the sauce to a boil adding a little water if too thick
Place chicken pieces into the pot and turn heat down
Cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent catching
Stir in the Garam Masala and Fenugreek powders
Cook for an additional 5 minutes then remove from heat
To serve swirl in the cream and garnish with chopped coriander leaves

"Best enjoyed with hot Naan breads or Rotis or simply on some steamed Basmati rice.  It is surprising how little butter there actually is in this dish despite its name.  The creamy texture comes from the pureed tomato as does the overall orange colour.  There is no need for additional cream but it does make it look pretty when serving.  This is truly my favourite dish to make from my Indian recipe repertoire."  

1 comment:

Bianca Gravina-Price said...

Hi Ngizee
Thanks for dropping by my blog Day Jaunts

I enjoy trying out new recipes as well but I’ve learnt that there are some things I just shouldn’t try to replicate. That way they stay special and I can still get excited when I visit a restaurant just to eat that one exceptional dish.

It was many years ago when I decided that I would learn how to make sushi rolls. And when I realised how simple they were I was so disappointed! Now they are just a standard lunch staple, only slightly more exciting than a salad sandwich.

We have a great cheap Indian restaurant in Geelong, Khan Curry Hut so I’m going to leave butter chicken to the experts and not spoil it for myself.