Butter Chicken


Murgh Makhani

Sibling rivalry, it starts in childhood and like a birthmark it’s with you for life.

I thought I’d ascended this latent emotion but upon hearing that my older brother (who like most chaps possesses four ‘mastered’ recipes) had produced an, ‘excellent’ Butter Chicken, I felt the green eyed monster rise within me and consume to Hulk proportions. The velocity of envy was supercharged as the sentiment was delivered by my doting mother, who no doubt was simply angling for another portion of Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani. Most restaurant experiences of this famed dish, invented by a chef at Delhi’s legendary Moti Mahal restaurant in the 1950s seem to be a creamy, dull flavourless expression…chicken dunked into a spiced butter cream. This dish needed to throw down the spice gauntlet, burn it up on the proverbial breakdance floor (or vinyl), wreck the MC mic…it just had to be better than my brother’s.

The next day, I overheard my mother on the phone to my brother…“The Rajah made Butter Chicken, you have some competition on your hands”. That’s as good as it gets in Asian households, I’ll take it though. Time for you to judge, try this Murgh Makhani recipe and let me know if it hits the spot.

Serves 4

  • 500g skinless boneless chicken thighs, diced

For the marinade

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1-2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 200g whole greek yoghurt

For the curry

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • thumb-sized piece ginger grated
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 50g flaked almonds, toasted
  • 2 tsp butter
Butter Chicken

How To Make Butter Chicken 

  1. In a medium bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients with some seasoning. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and toss with the marinade. Cover and chill in the fridge for 1 hr or overnight.
  2. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic, green chilli, ginger and some seasoning. Fry on a medium heat for 10 mins or until soft.
  3. Add the spices with the tomato purée, cook for a further 2 mins until fragrant. Now take off the heat, allow to cool a little and then pulp with a blender.
  4. Return the masala pulp back to the heat and add the stock and marinated chicken. Cook for 15 mins, then add any remaining marinade left in the bowl. Simmer for 5 mins, drop in the butter, then sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Serve with rice, naan bread, chutney, coriander and lime wedges, if you like.
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