MISSION MURGH MAKHANI (BUTTER CHICKEN)
Murgh Makhani or Butter Chicken is a dish whose origins can be traced back to the middle of the 20th Century and a restaurant in Delhi named, The Moti Mahal.
The restaurant was, apparently, famous for its Tandoori chicken and the recipe developed as a way of using left over scraps of chicken which were cooked in a sauce made of cream, spices, tomatoes and, butter.
It is a cousin of the Chicken Tikka Masala, which some claim was an attempt by Bangladeshi cooks in British curry houses to recreate the Murgh Makhani.
Whatever the origins, the dish is one of the most delicious I have ever cooked and is definitely now a staple on menus for any Indian dinner parties I might throw.
Recipes vary, but I hope this one (and the accompanying pictures) might prove interesting enough for some of you try it and report back if you do.
8 Chicken Thighs (Boned, skinned and cut into 1in chunks)
2 tbsp Thick Yoghurt
1 Large White Onion (sliced)
Green Chili (deseeded & finely minced)
Ginger/Garlic Paste (Made by blending 2 in fresh ginger & 4 cloves
1 12oz Can Tomatoes
½ Cup Fresh Coriander Leaves
½ Cup Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Optional)
2 Cups of Chicken Stock
3 Tbsp Butter
¼ Cup Double (Heavy) Cream
1 Tsp Coriander Seeds
3 Whole Cloves
3 Green Cardamom
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
1 Tsp Chili Powder
1 Tsp GroundTurmeric
1 Tsp Ground Corriander
1 Tsp Sugar
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Ground Ginger
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and add the yoghurt, half the ground spices, 2 tablespoons of the ginger/garlic paste, and half the minced chili.
Mix well, cover the bowl in cling film and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours. You can leave overnight, but don’t add the yoghurt until two hours before you need it as it can make the chicken mushy.
While the chicken is marinating, add 2 tbspn of vegetable oil to a pan and toss in the whole spices.
When the spices begin to pop, add in the onion and cook until soft and golden.
Add in the remaining ginger/garlic paste and cook until it loses its raw smell.
Add in the remaining minced green chili and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add in the remaining ground spices and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add in the tomatoes, the chicken stock, half the fresh coriander leaves and the dried fenugreek leaves (if you are using them)
Simmer the sauce gently for 30 minutes and then blend with a hand blender (I also like to pass my sauce through a sieve at this point. This is optional, but gives a much smoother finished sauce)
While the sauce is reducing, place the marinated chicken pieces on a wire rack on a baking sheet.
Grill them under a hot grill for 5 minutes each side (if you have a BBQ, they are even better cooked that way).
They should begin to develop a little char on the outside, which adds to the final flavor of the dish, although do be careful that they don’t burn.
Reserve the chicken pieces, making sure to capture all their juices.
Add 3 tbsp of butter to a hot pan and allow to melt.
Return the sauce to the pan and add the heavy cream (reserving a little bit for garnish)
Cook the sauce until reduced by half.
Add the chicken pieces to the pan along with any juices they have released.
Cook the sauce gently until the chicken pieces are warmed through and the sauce has reduced to a thick gravy.
When ready to serve, garnish with the remaining fresh coriander leaf, drizzle with the remaining cream and serve with boiled rice and Indian breads to sop up the sauce.