Thursday, January 28, 2010

Butter Chicken

There I've done what I never thought I would - cooked Butter Chicken! Butter Chicken is something that I didn't bother eating even in the Eighties when North Indian cuisine (more specifically modified Punjabi or "Mughlai" cuisine as it was called) dominated the restaurant scene.

Remember those days, when eating out was a treat reserved for birthdays and anniversaries? When one dressed up to go to Copper Chimney or Kwality or Great Punjab? (all in Mumbai where I grew up). They all seemed to serve the same Paalak Paneer, Naan/Roti, Yellow Dal combination and if you were a non vegetarian then there was Butter Chicken or Kadai Chicken.
As an alternative there were the dimly lit, red themed, Chinese restaurants which served Sweet Corn Soup, Hakka noodles and Gobi Manchurian - Farmer Bros in Dadar T.T was a family favourite.

Then I moved to Chennai and we scrupulously avoided the "multi cousin" restaurants preferring to try out the new "Continental" ones which were opening - even Mexican and Thai after a while. I preferred cooking North Indian food at home since the rajma and dal makhani tasted so much better when cooked home style with a minimum of spices - even the paalak paneer at home was better than the creamy mush served outside. No wonder then that butter chicken was not even on our horizon. Till we moved to Delhi two years back.

We quite enjoy the food at Moti Mahal - it isn't greasy like we expected it to be but even though they claim to have invented Butter Chicken, we haven't felt like trying, what we imagined would be, a dish cooked in butter, cream and ghee! We stuck to their spicy Chicken Lababdar. The few times that we did taste this dish in other places (think wedding buffet or office lunch) I was aghast to find tomato sauce being used.

Now my friend A upstairs cooks a mean Butter Chicken which her darling son polishes off like a seasoned Punjabi and one Sunday while rooting around the kitchen and trying to figure out what to cook, I actually thought of having a go at making it myself! I adapted a Sanjeev Kapoor recipe (its called Chicken Makhani for those who have his first book) and it turned out to be a very flavourful, light dish - perfect with some hot rotis - preferably the tandoori rotis or even naans. Try it, you won't be disappointed!

Butter Chicken

Boneless Chicken -500gms (can also use leg and other pieces with bone)

Yoghurt - 1/2 cup, hung for 15 minutes
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Garam masala powder (you can subsititute with curry powder) - 1/2 tsp
salt - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp

To grill:
Butter / ghee - 1 -2 tbsp to baste

Cinnamon - 1 " stick
Moti elaichi (brown cardamom) - 1
Cloves - 3-4
Peppercorns - 4-5

Butter - 1 tbsp
Green chillies - 2 chopped
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Tomatoes - 4 medium, blanched in boiling water, peeled and pureed (or simply use 200gm tomato puree)
salt to taste
Dry fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) - roasted for a few seconds on a hot griddle and crushed by hand.
Cream - 1/2 cup

1. Clean and cut the chicken (if using boneless pieces than cut into 2" pieces, make cuts on the surface. Mix the marinade ingredients and soak the chicken pieces in the marinade for atleast 2 hours.
2. Pre heat the oven to 200C and grill the marinated chicken pieces on skewers for 10-15 minutes till cooked and a little brown on top. Brush with butter half way through and if you don't have a rotating option for the skewers, turn the skewers over at this stage.
3. Heat butter for the curry in a heavy bottomed pan and add the whole spices - cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and pepper - in two minutes, add the chopped green chillies and saute 1 more minute
4. Pour in the tomato puree, add red chilli powder and salt and simmer on low for 8-10 minutes till the oil leaves the sides of the pan (bhunao is the term used here!) stirring from time to time making sure it doesn't stick to the bottom.
5. Once it is well roasted and almost like a paste (but not to the point of being burnt), add one and half cups of water and bring to boil. Adjust salt and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
6. Add the chicken pieces and fenugreek powder and simmer for another 5 minutes adding some more water if needed.
7. Add the cream and remove from flame. Serve hot with tandoori rotis or plain rotis.


The knife said...

Must try this. It is so difficult to get a good butter chicken

Arch said...

Hey, that plate is really cool with that chilli on it - it is part of the design, right ? This butter chicken seems like a lot of work ! Good going girl !

Happy Cook said...

Love butter chicken and this looks so so yummy.

Asha said...

My kids love this dish, only Indian dish they like other than parathas. Looks delicious Miri, masala sound great too.

indosungod said...

Miri, I was never a fan of this either, something about chicken swimming in tomato sauce, every other non-Indian interested in Indian food asks for butter chicken and I learned to cook one and realized it is not so bad after all.

Cilantro said...

Butter chicken looks delicious.My daughters favorite, she loves it so much and tries out from different restaurants while in India. I have my version in my draft, should post it soon.

Yeah, those days we went to reatuarants on occasions but now times have changed. I feel you cannot dine in peace in most restaurants. They are all crowded except for the upscale ones.
I love the Saravana Bhavan food but have been avoiding it for the crowd.

Bong Mom said...

will try this one. Mine is little diff. I like tha there is no onion to chop for this

Miri said...

Arch - yes, the chilli is part of the design - one of the gorgeous plates I drool over at Good Earth and couldn't resist buying it!

Sayantani said...

Same here Miri. we always prefer home made compared to the same tasting gravy based restaurant food. the butter chicken looks delish. will make a paneer makhani following this.
between am drooling at that plate looks so different. a new Mothe rEarth shop has opened near our place. a visit is must this tomorrow.

PJ said...

i would have your version anyday over the restaurant version. I, like you, run away from anything called 'butter chicken' in restaurants just because its sooo heavy soaking in loads and loads of cream and butter.. like your light refreshing taste on it.

Sharmila said...

You do make it sound so easy. Nothing like a good butter chicken made at home. Am so going to try this. :-)

Sarah said...

I made this yesterday and it came out delicious!! A novelty for me as I'm a newbie cook:)Thanks very much Miri. Really appreciate the time spent in whippin up all these yummy recipies and sharing with us.