Murgh makhani or Indian butter chicken is delicious and heartwarming creamy chicken dish. It originates from North India, Punjabi, that has made its way to the restaurants and homes of curry lovers all over the world.
For those who love Indian cuisine, this rich buttery creamy chicken needs no introduction, it’s one of the best known Indian dishes. It was invented by Kundan Lal Gujral, an owner of a popular restaurant in Delhi. The restaurant specialized on tandoori chicken, leftovers of which were once turned into the amazing rich gravy, known today as murgh makhani.
In India, you can find it in every restaurant as well as with street vendors, and with this original recipe, you can easily make this restaurant-style butter chicken at home. Basically, it is the chicken simmered in a creamy sauce made with fresh tomatoes, ginger, fenugreek leaves, honey, and spices. The combination is deliciously savory, the spice combines with the slight sweetness and the rich gravy making Indian butter chicken hard to resist! All the main ingredients like kasoori methi or garam masala are available online or from Indian grocery stores.
Though the ingredients are quite simple and typical in Indian cooking, the dish preparation is a bit time consuming, it requires at least 4 hours marinating the chicken, but in fact, 12 hours in the fridge is even better. Yogurt, chili and garam masala make chicken tender and it grilles faster. You can start preparing it the night before serving and rest the chicken in the fridge overnight for better and richer taste. Both white boneless chicken breasts or dark chicken meat with bones can be used. The trick is to cook the chicken in a tandoor – traditional clay oven.
The temperature there is much higher than in any other oven. Well-marinated chicken will be ready just in few minutes, soft and juicy. Tandoori chicken, when added to the sauce, enhances the flavor of the whole dish. Cooking on the barbecue, in the oven or hot grill can also work here if the tandoori oven is not available.
Once the chicken is cooked, set it aside and proceed to make the Indian butter chicken sauce. Actually, when we talk about the authentic taste of murgh makhani, it’s all about the sauce! The sauce for Indian butter chicken is made of pureed juicy tomatoes and spices cooked in oil or in butter (ghee butter is also used). The secret ingredient that adds unforgettable aroma to the dish, is dried fenugreek leaves or Kasuri methi. Its flavor unfolds gradually and makes the Indian butter chicken so unique. Fenugreek leaves can be found in Asian or Indian grocery stores.
The sauce stays good in the fridge up to 48 hours if you decide to make it beforehand. Just let it cool completely and leave in the fridge so that the flavors really get together.
After the dish is ready, garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot and don’t forget that you can always customize the spices to your own taste. Enjoy!
- FOR BUTTER CHICKEN MARINADE
- Skinless Whole chickens (cut into 8 pieces)- 2 , each 1000 g
- Garlic paste- 1 tbsp
- Ginger paste- 1 tbsp
- Yogurt- 4 tbsp
- Garam masala- 1 tsp
- Vegetable oil- 2 -3 tbsp
- Indian red chili powder-1 tsp
- Salt- 1 tsp
- BUTTER CHICKEN SAUCE
- Green chili- 2
- Tomatoes (halved) - 1.5 kg
- Cloves- 8
- Green Cardamom seeds-8
- Bay leaves- 4
- Ginger paste- 1 tbsp
- Red chili powder- 1 tsp
- Tomato paste- 2 tbsp
- Honey-1 tbsp
- Dried methi – 2 tsp
- Unsalted butter- 1 tbsp
- Heavy cream- ½ cup
- Vegetable oil- 3 tbsp
- Cashew nuts (ground)- 1 tbsp
- Salt- to taste
- FOR SMOKY EFFECT
- A piece of charcoal- 1 small
- Melted butter- 1 tsp
- FOR SERVING
- Fresh coriander leaves- 2 tbsp
- Butter- as needed
- Steamed rice- optional
- In a medium bowl mix together all the ingredients for butter chicken marinade:(Garlic paste- 1 tbsp, 1 tbsp of ginger paste, 4 tbsp of yogurt, 1 tsp of Garam masala, 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil, 1 tsp of Indian red chili powder, 1 tsp of salt).
- Apply marinade to the chicken and marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight in the fridge.
- Preheat your oven to 220 C or 425 F.
- Transfer the marinated chicken onto the large tray. Bake the chicken in the top rack for 10 minutes or until slightly browned and crispy. Remove from the oven, cover with plastic and put it aside for a while.
- Using the same tray, bake the tomatoes in the top rack for 10 minutes.
- In a large saucepan heat 3 tbsp of Vegetable oil. Pierce the green chilies and add to the saucepan and fry for 1 minute. Add clove, cardamom, bay leaves, ginger paste and continue cooking for another minute over medium heat. Add the oven- grilled tomatoes and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the stove, take out the spices and chilies. (Green chili- 2, tomatoes (halved) - 1.5 kg , cloves- 8, green cardamom seeds-8, bay leaves- 4, ginger paste- 1 tbsp, vegetable oil- 3 tbsp)
- Using a food mill or a strainer, sieve the sauce. Then purée the contents of the strainer in a blender with a little water if required. Add it to the sauce.
- Put the sauce for Indian butter chicken back on the heat. Bring it to a boil. Add all the ingredients below. Simmer for another 20 minutes. (Red chili powder- 1 tsp, tomato paste- 2 tbsp, honey-1 tbsp, unsalted butter- 1 tbsp, salt-to taste).
- Add the cream & methi. (Heavy cream- ½ cup, kasoori methi – 2 tsp)
- SMOKY TASTE
- Burn a piece of charcoal on the stove. Take a piece of foil and place in the saucepan with chicken.
- Transfer the burned piece of coal onto the foil.
HOW TO MAKE INDIAN BUTTER CHICKEN
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