Thursday, July 31, 2008

Butter Chicken - Murgh Makhani


The well known butter chicken dish. Surprisingly, I have never had this dish until we moved to Toronto. Had Chicken Tikka Masala million times, but not Butter Chicken. Similar but not the same. First time trying Butter Chicken, the only difference I could tell was Chicken Tikka Masala uses chunks of chicken breast, while Butter Chicken (the one I tried the first time and still my favorite's style) uses boned chicken breast and thighs.

Google and wikipedia frenzy, all the way to befriended restaurant staffs: I find this type of thing as very intriguing. So far, the newsflash seems to be that Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) is the original version from Punjab, while Chicken Tikka Masala is a spin-off 'invented' by Brits. Both dish call for very well marinated chicken, 'roasted' in tandoori oven, however one is skewered chunks of chicken breast, the other is the entire bird (like Rotisserie Chicken, perhaps?) Makhani sauce has almonds in it and sometimes cream, while Butter Chicken, no almonds (though there are at least 2 places that serve it with almond slivers), and always involve some type of cream.

On top of all that, it seems that there are many variations of each dish. Some places serve very smooth thick creamy version, some has some little bites of tomatoes/onions to it. This is one recipe that I can safely say is very fun to try and doctor it to your own version.

Instead of almond/ cashew butter, I use few teaspoon of ground almond - does not make the dish any lighter per se, because the typical almon/cashew butter used in this recipe is pretty much almonds being grinded to smooth paste. I just happen to have ground almond and not the butter (neither feeling up to grinding it to paste) It doesn't alter the taste, just the texture; not as smooth or creamy.

Chicken:
- 1 chicken breast (I would have used thighs, drumsticks and chicken breast combination, but all I had in freezer was chicken breast)
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tbsp turmeric powder
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 inch ginger, grated
- 1 tsp of sweet paprika
- 1/2 tbsp of hot chili powder (optional, or add to taste)
- 1 tsp of jaggery, crushed finely (or sugar)
- salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp of lime juice

How:
- Mix all the ingredients (except chicken) to make a paste. Slather on top of chicken. Make sure all chicken pieces are coated by spice paste.
- Marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours; over night preferably.
- Wrap chicken in aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven, 350 degrees. Baking time depends on size. Test by piercing tip of knife through thickest part of chicken, when juice runs out clear, chicken is cooked. Once cooked, switch to broil setting to get the brownish a little charred chicken. It will only take couple minutes.
- Let chicken rest before cutting. Cut to desired size.

Sauce/Gravy:
- 2 tbsp butter
- pinch of hing/ asafoetida
- 3 tbsp tomato paste (or substitute with 1 small can of whole tomatoes/chopped tomatoes)
- 3 cloves
- 5 cm cinnamon stick
- 1 small onions, grated or chopped very finely
- 1 tbsp garlic, grated
- 1 tbsp ginger, grated
- 1 jalapenos, chopped (optional)
- 1/2 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp hot chili powder (optinal)
- 2 or 3 tbsp ground almond
- 2 cups of water (or chicken broth)
- 1/2 cup of yogurt
- 1 tbsp fenugreek leaves/ methi leaves

How:
- Heat butter in pot. Add the pinch of hing.
- Toss in onions, garlic, ginger, jalapenos, cloves, and cinnamon stick. Stir until onions are translucent.
- Add ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika and chili powder. Stir well.
- Add tomato paste and ground almond. Stir. Some oil should start to separate.
- Low heat to medium low, add in yogurt. Stir and mix thoroughly.
- Pour in chicken broth/ water. Let it thicken.
- Add chicken to simmering sauce and let it warm through.
- Sprinkle fenugreek leaves into pot, let it simmer for a while.

Delicious with basmati rice (while cooking the rice, try to add some cumin seeds, cloves and pinch of salt to it) and naan. If there is leftover, I cut it up to smaller chunks and use it as filling to pita bread.

1 comment:

vyoma said...

This is my fav. dish! i really like the way it looks in the picture! seems spicy, the way i like it!!-Vyoma.