I don’t talk statistics when it comes to food (That sounds a little incongruous considering I used to make a living out of pie charts and graphs), but here’s what I read somewhere “90% of all Indians order Butter Chicken off the menu in an Indian Restaurant”. Accurate or not, this certainly sounds believable enough.
Butter chicken or Murgh makhni is perhaps the ‘little black dress’ of Indian cuisine. A classic, uncomplicated dish that will never go out of style. I have the best memories of eating butter chicken, lapping up every bit of gravy with a roomali roti (soft, thin, flatbread). Butter chicken is a great social leveller. It is highly popular, from its dhaba (food-stalls along highways) version to its fine dining avatar. And always, always, served with freshly baked flatbread and a dollop of butter on top.
There are several recipes for butter chicken, with so many versions of this dish around, its best to just stick to the classic version – one that packs in the butter and cream. I have tried a few recipes for butter chicken, and this is the one that I really enjoy. It uses kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), ground almonds and honey. And cream, and a generous amount of butter. There are recipes that use cashew nuts instead of almonds, for a richer gravy. I have used boneless chicken, but bone-in is as always, more flavorful. The one thing that should not be omitted is the kasuri methi, which adds an earthy, mildly bitter taste that brings out the flavor of the butter chicken. And of course, never skimp on the butter or cream. It is called ‘butter’ chicken for a reason!
- 500 gms Chicken breast, cut into small cubes
- For the marinade:
- ½ cup plain yoghurt (or Greek yoghurt)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon garlic paste
- For the sauce/ gravy:
- 75 gms butter
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves
- ½ teaspoon paprika powder
- 3-4 cardamom pods
- 1 inch stick cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 10-15 almonds, soaked, peeled and ground to a paste
- 1.5 cup canned tomatoes or tomato puree
- ½ cup honey
- A few strands of saffron (optional)
- ½ cup cream
- Salt to taste
- Start by marinating the chicken.
- Mix together the chicken with all the ingredients for the marinade.
- Let this sit for at least 1 hour, or even overnight in the refrigerator if you can.
- Grill the marinated chicken on a grill or in a baking tray in the oven for 20 minutes, turning it over halfway through so the pieces are evenly cooked.
- Prepare the sauce while the chicken is grilling.
- Add the butter to a heavy bottomed saucepan or pot, and once melted, add the fenugreek leaves, paprika powder, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and garam masala. The spices will release their aromas once heated.
- Add the ground almond paste, canned tomatoes/ tomato puree and stir.
- Let this come to a simmer.
- Add honey, saffron, cream and salt and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add the grilled chicken and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat.
- Serve with freshly baked flatbread such as naan or tandoori roti
I am linking this classic, much-loved Indian curry to the lovely folks at:
Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen