Recipe: Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)

With all of the globalization of the economy going on, I spend quite a bit of time in India – about two to three months per year. I’ve never been a big fan of Indian cuisine, although I’ve developed a taste over the past couple of years. I still don’t know what the hell anything is when I eat in the cafeteria at work – it’s a bunch of chafing dished filled with veg curries. I’ve found that yellow and orange are usually pretty good. If it’s in the dish after the rice, put it on your rice. Grab some chapati. Life is simple.
Anyway, I thought I’d try my hand at making some of my own Indian food at home this week. I broke what I usually consider a cardinal rule – don’t try more than one new recipe for any single meal. I wrote that rule when I had a dinner party and we ambitiously tried three or four new recipes including dessert. There were tamales, some kind of ancho-chile peppered and honeyed yams, and cream of jalapeno soup. Needless to say, our guests had to help us finish all of the cooking, and we served dinner about two hours later than planned.
However, I’m on vacation, so I threw caution to the wind, and made daal, butter chicken, and naan for dinner last night. The daal was OK, but nothing like what I’ve experienced in India – I prefer the moong daal (the yellow daal) and didn’t see it at my local grocery store. I will find some and do this again. The naan turned out very tasty – the recipe I used had some flour, water, yeast, yoghurt, and some of my sourdough starter. You need only about two hours of leavening time, and cook on a stone in a 550 degree oven. I made it a bit too thick, and it had a nice pocket like pita bread, and it was a bit stiffer than the good soft naan I’ve had in restaurants in India. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it, and will make this again.
Now to the butter chicken. If you haven’t had butter chicken, it’s much like chicken tikka masala, although generally, it’s not made as spicy. It has a creamy tomato gravy.
I found this nice recipe online – I substituted walnut oil for canola oil (I prefer olive oil or walnut oil to the other popular frying oils).  I found that I hadn’t added enough cayenne, as I would have enjoyed more kick. However, you can spice to the needs of your palate. Also, if you have fresh peppers around, I think those should be added at the stage where you’re sauteing the onion and do this instead of the cayenne. I think a habanero pepper would go great with this dish.
Here’s a link to the recipe.  Note:  this will take about an hour.

Recipe from Sapna Magazine

BTW – I found something funny on wikipedia – I was looking up chicken tikka masala and found this hindi translation:
Hindi: चिकन टिक्का मसाला
The first word (चिकन ) is just a direct transliteration of the English word “chicken” rather than the Hindi word for chicken, “murg.” Maybe that ties to the fact that the article says this dish was actually invented in the UK, so there is no such thing as murg tikka masala. Hell, I don’t know.

5 Responses to “Recipe: Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)”

  1. Geert says:

    The link to the recipe is dead.

  2. dudecancook says:

    Yes, i saw that. I’ll have to pull another recipe together and post that. Geert – this wasn’t as good as the butter chicken masala we had at the Oakwood in Pune. Entirely different.

  3. dudecancook says:

    Thanks for the link, Paresh.

    Sorry I was so slow to respond – I get 99 spam comments for each real one, and finally logged in this morning to clean it up.

    Time to cook some more Indian dishes.


  4. Meghan says:

    I suspect that the restaurants add some tomato paste based ingredient to make the gravy sweeter and thicker.

Leave a Response