Remember going to your favourite eatery and digging into that deliciously creamy gravy with that tender juicy chicken perfectly spiced. The taste you never want to let go. Butter chicken has that effect on everyone. It requires a lot of hard work and efficiency to get that satisfying taste.
Where it came from
It’s dated back to the times before the partition of India. It’s a story of a sweet shop in Peshawar called ‘Mukhey da Dhaba’. The sweet shop was owned by Mokha Singh, an old gentleman. In the shop worked the young Kundan Lal Gujral. His grandson, Monish Gujral recalls that his grandfather helped invent the ‘Tandoori Chicken’ that waters our mouth today. This story not only talks about the famous ‘Butter Chicken’ but also the invention of ‘Tandoori Chicken’.
From ‘Tandoori’ to ‘Butter’ Chicken
Mokha Singh sold his shop to Kundan Lal after his health deteriorated. The shop was renamed as ‘Moti Mahal’ by the new owner. Kundan Lal moved to Delhi along with ‘Moti Mahal’ after the Indo-Pak partition. As the restaurant grew prominently in the 1950s, the quantity of the chicken prepared was increased. Each night, a lot of ‘Tandoori Chicken’ was being thrown out as it was left hanging and became dry. Fed up from the wastage, Kundan Lal decided to make use of the leftovers by adding butter, cream and tomato based curry. This helped in regaining the chicken’s moisture and made it palatable again. Hence, came to origin the ‘Butter Chicken’ (the rest, as they say, is history).
The small outlet in Daryaganj grew fast and now, almost 70 years later, it has a successful chain of restaurants with outlets far and wide, managed by his grandson, Monish Gujral.
Here’s a quick recipe for all the Butter Chicken Lovers:
800g chicken, cut into small pieces
2tbsp ginger garlic paste
1½tbsp lemon juice
100gm natural yoghurt
1tsp cumin powder
1½ tbsp butter
1/2tsp cardamom powder
1tsp coriander powder
1tsp chilli powder, or to taste
250ml tomato puree
1tsp chilli powder, or to taste
2tbsp lemon juice
40g unsalted butter
1tsp garam masala
100ml double cream
1tbsp chopped coriander, to garnish
- Put the chicken in a bowl adding 1tbsp garlic and ginger paste, salt, chilli powder and 1tbsp lemon juice. Mix it well, cover with cling film and let it chill for 30 minutes.
- In another bowl mix together the yoghurt, garam masala, turmeric and cumin powder and add it to the chicken.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Bake the marinated chicken for 8-10 minutes. Slightly Oil the chicken pieces with a brush and turn them over. Let it bake for another 10-12 minutes until cooked.
- Let the butter heat in a pan and add 1tbsp garlic and ginger paste. After frying for a minute or so add cardamom powder, cloves, turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala and chilli powder.
- Let it fry for 1-2 minutes until you get a lovely aroma. After stirring the tomato puree and lemon juice let it cook for another couple of minutes.
- Add the chicken pieces to the gravy and mix well to coat. Finally, add cream and butter and continuously stir until the butter melts and the gravy is smooth.
- Finally, shift the cooked chicken into a bowl, garnish with finely chopped coriander and serve hot.