Thursday, November 7, 2013

Butter Chicken - Murgh Makhani


An ideal world would be one in which all promises are kept, no rules are broken and people truly love and respect each other. 

But such a world exists only in Karan Johar movies where the men are more gorgeous than Chris Hemsworth, the women's legs are longer than the whole of me and they show all of it, and where love happens in London, Paris or San Fracisco with firangis dancing in the background wearing lehengas designed by Manish Malhotra. 

It's all rosy in Mills & Boon novels too, where after 100 pages of keeping passions and emotions in check and denying each other's existence, the lovebirds finally unleash it all and live happily ever after. 

The world is a beautiful place in my fantasies too. In it, I am 10 kgs lesser than my actual weight.

But reality is a far cry from all the mush and the slush. In our world, we have politicians who promise to erase poverty, but instead erase the poor. From their view point, it isn't a grave injustice. They promised to hatao the girib-i and instead hataoed the garib. Shame on us for raising such a hue and cry over a simple 'i'.

There is every single rule in place to make sure we may live in our great country with dignity, heads held high, without fear of anyone. But to keep us safe from troublemakers who deny us our rights, we need to make hefty payments to the keepers of law, under the table.  For everything from the birth certificate to the  marriage certificate to the death certificate (wait, isn't marriage certificate and death certificate one and the same?), we have to part with our hard earned money. (On the other hand, some kind hearted conductors on the BMTC charge us only half the actual ticket cost provided we do not ask for the ticket.)

In the real world, there are a few husbands who promise all the love and happiness in the universe, but they (like the aforementioned law keepers) want payments made under the table in exchange. (Since this is a family blog, I will not use the D word to describe such money transactions). If you do not make this payment (and even if you do), they are bound to find new love in the arms of other women (namely Vodka and Gin). This is turn makes them so deranged that they constantly mistake the wife for a boxing bag. Sigh. Guess there is no happily ever after for everyone.

Did the builders promise to get your apartment ready the year before last, but you are still waiting?

Do you know of jewelers who promise their semi precious stones would end all your problems but all they do is put a hole in your pocket?

And the mummy who promises to buy chocolates for the son, forgets it, and mixes cocoa powder, butter and sugar to create chocolate at home?

You thought I was that mother, didn't you? NO! NO WAY! :P 
I usually keep my promises and just to prove it, here is the butter chicken recipe I promised when I made naan before. 

To make authentic butter chicken, you need to first marinate chicken pieces on the bone in Tandoori marinade. Let it rest overnight and then grill them till the chicken is tender.

Keep in mind that this grilled chicken needs to go into the makhani gravy, so resist from devouring more than one piece or so. The makhani gravy is a rich gravy that uses butter, tomato puree, cashewnuts, cream and spices. Once this is thick and simmering away, the chicken pieces go in and cook for some more time. And that's your butter chicken - truly, absolutely delicious.


800 grams chicken pieces (I used 4 leg and thigh pieces on the bone)

Tandoori Chicken

Juice of half a lemon
To taste, salt
1 to 1½ tablespoon red chili powder
A pinch turmeric powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon chopped garlic + 
½ tablespoon chopped ginger
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon fenugreek  seeds
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
(1 teaspoon fennel seeds + ½ teaspoon pepper corns + 3 cloves + 3 cardamoms +   1" piece of cinnamon) or 1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon dry mango powder / a small piece of dry mango peel
teaspoons of powdered black salt
1½ teaspoons of powdered rock salt
1 teaspoon chickpea flour (besan)
1 tablespoon oil
¼  cup hung curd 
Red coloring (optional) 
Melted butter


Rub lemon juice and salt into chicken. Grind together the dry ingredients listed above into a fine powder. Add curd, oil, ginger and garlic and blitz into smooth paste. Pour this marinade onto the chicken pieces and coat thoroughly. Cover and let it rest in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 180 C.  Place chicken pieces on grill, and keep tray in lower rack to collect the drippings. Also reserve any excess marinade. Grill for 10 - 15 minutes on one side, brush chicken pieces with melted butter, turn them and grill for a further five minutes till tender. Keep aside.

Note: The list of ingredients gives the tandoori chicken its authentic flavor. Even if you don't get all of them, it would be really nice to have ateast ginger, garlic, chili powder, cumin seeds, garam masala, black salt, curd, lemon juice and obviously salt.

Makhani Gravy

400 grams ripe tomatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
3/4 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
2 tablespoons green chili, finely chopped 
1 tablespoon red chili powder
5-8 cashewnuts (Blitz the nuts with a 2-3 tablespoons of water)
1 teaspoon kasuri methi, crushed (Dried fenugreek leaves)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup cream
A handful of coriander leaves and butter, to garnish


Cut a shallow cross into bottom of each tomato and put them into a pot of boiling water. Drain after a minute and remove tomato skin. Puree them.

In a large pan, melt butter. Toss in chopped onion and saute till soft. Next saute the ginger and garlic paste along with green chilies till aromatic. Pour in pureed tomatoes and let simmer, stirring continuously till mixture leaves the sides of the pan and oil appears on top of the mixture. Add chili powder and kasuri methi and stir for a minute. 

Add chicken, any leftover marinade, and all drippings collected in baking tray. Pour in half cup hot water and cashewnut paste, sprinkle over garam masala, sugar, some coriander leaves and mix together. Cook for five minutes, mix in cream and remove from heat.

Garnish with coriander leaves and butter.

Serve hot with naan or white rice.


By the way, I made some delicious yeasted naan recently. I will share the recipe for it soon, Inshalla. Enjoy!


  1. Loved the pleasure trip of typical Bollywood sequence of romance,villain,climax and was lil worried finally who would emerge as the star, thank God for the all is well ending of only mom keeping promises :)) .
    The butter chicken looks so tantalizing that I have already kept the chicken to defrost.

  2. Butter chicken looks delicious Indu... So tempting and making me hungry for some :)

  3. Butter chicken looks so delicious, wish i would take it out of the screen.

  4. looks so tempting and delicious!

  5. A quintessential dish to have and love the colors.

  6. Kya baath hai Indu, kithna achi likhthi ho!!!! Nice post and droolworthy butter chicken, just feels like to dip my finger in that gravy and taste it!!!

  7. i bookmarked... i made it too... It was so delicious.. so delicious.. even though i didn't get all the ingredients.. like Black salt and rock salt.. and i served my family for dinner with garlic naan....Thanks for the wonderful recipe...

  8. And another recipe to try of.. Thanks for posting this. personal chef in austin tx

  9. What is the difference between murgh makhani, and chicken tikka masala? Thanks

    1. There is a lot of similarity in taste, but the spices used in gravy are different. Typically, murgh makhani or butter chicken uses chicken on the bone, whereas tikka masala is boneless. And time for marinating the chicken also differs in the recipes.


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