My dad was born and brought up in a very conservative Tam-brahm family, where eating meat was considered taboo. On finishing his university, he moved to Pune – a small and quiet city near Mumbai – in the 1970s for work. While living as a bachelor, my dad would spend some of his time in the kitchen trying out new recipes as he enjoyed and appreciated different cuisines.
On an occasion, his close friend, a Sikh, introduced him to butter chicken, which has its roots in Punjabi cuisine – where the chicken pieces are marinated with yogurt (which helps to tenderize the chicken), cream and a spice mixture. My dad tasted this dish and loved it so much that he decided to try more of meat dishes, but butter chicken remained his favourite dish. He also taught my nanny to make it and the entire family would gorge on butter chicken with rotis/naan (Indian flat bread) or jeera rice with Old Monk or a glass of beer – all sacrileges in a Tam-Brahm household (maybe except the rice and naan)! Whenever we had a party or we would go out for dinner; he would ask us – “What would you like to eat today?” and our answer would always be the same – “Butter chicken”.
After he passed away, I tried having butter chicken at various restaurants and also tried making it at home, but it did miss some zing. Then, on our trip to London, my cousin, Chintuji, took us to Punjab – an old and quaint Indian restaurant in Covent Garden with a promise that this would be the best butter chicken that we would taste. We ordered a portion of butter chicken and some naans. As the waiter served the butter chicken at our table, I just couldn’t get my eyes off it as it looked really rich and beautiful. I had the first mouthful and – bang, my mouth exploded with an amazing blend of flavours, and my years of search for the best butter chicken was finally over. “It is really really yummy!” I declared while gobbling down the rest of the delicious chicken. Within no time we had finished it off, and we looked at each other and decided to order one more plate of Butter chicken.
Here’s a recipe to a great butter chicken, which pairs perfectly with Naans and a cold beer.
1hour – a day
45 mins – 1 hour
Easy and simple
Servings: 4 – 6
For the marinade
- Chicken thighs – 3 nos
- Lime juice – 1
- Kashmiri chilli powder – 1 tsp
- Thick yogurt – 1 cup
- Garlic paste – 1tsp
- Ginger – 1 tsp
- Garam masala – 1tsp
- Salt to taste
- Kasturi methi – 2-3 pinches
For the gravy
- Butter – 3-4tsp
- Large Onion finely chopped – 1 nos
- Tomato puree – 1- 1½ cups
- Cumin powder – ½ tsp
- Kashmiri chilli powder – ½ tsp
- Coriander powder – ½ tsp
- Heavy cream – ½ cup
- Kasturi methi – 2-4 pinches
- Fresh coriander – for garnish
- Wash the chicken thighs & make a few slits on them
- Take all the ingredients of the marinade and rub it to the chicken thighs and marinate it for 3-4 hours in the refrigerator or overnight
- Heat the butter in a kadhi.
- Add onion & stir-fry until golden brown.
- Add the tomato puree, cumin powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and kasturi methi.
- Continue to cook the sauce until the oil separates.
- Then add the marinated chicken with the marinade and cook on medium flame for 30-40 minutes.
- Add salt as per taste
- Then add the cream and continue to cook until the chicken is soft and tender.
- Garnish it with coriander leaves and serve it rice or naans.