Butter Chicken , or Murgh Makhani, is one of the most popular Indian recipes. It’s traditionally made with shredded Tandoori chicken in a buttery tomato sauce. It’s not a quick recipe if you are starting from scratch, but according to our friend Tanya Anurag, a little bit of smart cooking can save you some precious time. Follow her tips and tricks to make your own authentic, restaurant-quality Butter Chicken right in your own kitchen!
The invention of Butter Chicken was born out of an attempt to avoid food wasting. A chef who was famous for his tandoori chicken discovered that a tomato gravy, that was rich with butter and cream, would soften up the leftover chicken. The combination proved to be a stroke of genius and the infamous Butter Chicken was born.
If you are not using leftover tandoori chicken, Tanya suggests using chicken thighs. Once you’ve washed and dried the chicken pieces, you will marinate it for at least 30 minutes. After marinating, the chicken will be grilled and then simmered in the creamy sauce and spices to bring out the flavors.
The gravy in this dish is rich and aromatic with the perfect balance of spice and a hint of sweetness from our Juno® Bites Red Grape Tomatoes. This recipe calls for a lot of tomatoes and can involve a lot of chopping, but to save time Tanya used our tomatoes whole. Not only do they add the perfect flavor to the gravy, but they also help achieve the right color. Sometimes chefs opt to use food coloring to help get that gorgeous orange color, but if you are using Juno® Bites, that isn’t necessary!
Once the chicken is finished marinating, you will sear it in a wide pan over a low flame and with some butter. Let the chicken brown – a little charring doesn’t hurt either. Then remove the chicken from the pan and reserve any butter that might be left.
Put the pan with the reserved butter back on the heat and add your onion, ginger and garlic. Don’t let the onions burn! Add the Juno® Bites, Kashmiri red chili powder, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, peppercorns, cardamom and salt, then give it a good mix. Then add the water, cover the pan and let it cook, being sure to check the firmness of the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes start to look soft, smash them with the back of a spatula. Cook for a few minutes longer, then remove the pan from the heat. Let the gravy mixture cool down. You can use a hand blender, food processor or regular blender to turn the mixture into more of a smoother sauce, then strain it and set it aside.
Add butter to the pan and put it back on the heat. Once the butter is melted, add Kashmiri red chili powder and coriander powder, then cook it for a minute or so. Add the strained gravy mixture back into the pan and bring it to a simmer. When the mixture is simmering, place the chicken into the gravy and let it cook for another two to three minutes. Add the honey, cream and fenugreek, give it a good stir and then cook for another two to three minutes.
That could be the final step and you would be able to serve a delicious Butter Chicken meal, but Tanya has let us in on a little secret to elevate this dish to the next level. If you’re not using tandoori chicken, you might want to give your dish that smoky flavor that would come from a tandoor oven. She achieves this by taking a piece of coal, setting it ablaze in a heat resistant bowl. Then she places that bowl directly in the pan of Butter Chicken, pours some ghee on the coal and covers the pan with a lid. All of this has to be done fairly quickly so that the result will be a nice smoky taste. After a few minutes, remove the bowl with the coal in it and your Butter Chicken is ready to serve!
For Tanya’s full Butter Chicken recipe, click here.
For more healthy snacking advice and tasty recipes, make sure to sign up for Pure Flavor’s® monthly newsletter.