Murgh Makhani - Butter Chicken

Saturday, April 07, 2012

So happy to have gotten this amazing recipe from Madhura. Fortunately, it was the real deal ... twice cooked, three sauces and probably takes a whole day. Oh yes! How does this make me happy? Because there are seriously no shortcuts to Butter Chicken. Unless you call for delivery, that is! 

Of course it's tedious, but then, you actually get to taste what Butter Chicken should be, and that is a delicious and fragrant, gravied-up, slow-marinated Tandoori Chicken, which is a far cry from having a jar or sachet that you combine with uncooked chicken and try to call it a day. It would be a very sad day, indeed.

So once ... just once, try this at home. Just like how I tried to bake bread. Just once :) And let's see if that will make you happy enough, satisfied enough, to give it another shot. You can work this around so many other things you do around the house ... marinate the chicken the night before, and when it's in the oven, start making your sauces. Pretty doable. Also, let a glass of gewurtz or a light pinot noir accompany you in the process. It makes the waiting more bearable ;)

You can easily double the recipe for this weekend's instant dinner. And for a vegetarian option, paneer and mixed vegetables would be great in the sauce as well. Enjoy with naan or basmati rice to soak up all the juicy gravy.

Chicken Marinade:
4 lb chicken breast, bite sized pieces
2 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
2 tsp garam masala
4 tsp coriander powder
1 cup thick yogurt
4 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp kasoori methi - fenugreek leaves
4 tbsp Lemon juice

Tomato paste:
8 large tomatoes, chopped
4 tbsp oil
4 tsp cumin seeds
4 tbsp coriander seeds
6 bay leaves
10 green cardamoms
12 black peppercorns
10 cloves
4 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp salt

1/2 cup soaked cashews in 1 cup hot water (or 1 cup oat bran)
1 cup butter
3 tbsp garlic
2 tbsp ginger
2 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
3 tbsp kasoori methi
4-6 tbsp sugar
1-2 tbsp salt
1/4 cup fresh cream

Chicken: could be prepared a day before
1) Combine all marinade ingredients, add chicken pieces, mix well and let rest refrigerated for at least 1 hour
2) Transfer marinated chicken in greased baking tray, drizzle some oil over it and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350F.
Alternatively, spray oil in a pan and cook chicken, reserving the liquid.

Tomato paste: could be prepared before and refrigerated up to 3-4 days
1) Heat up the oil in a heavy bottomed pan, add bay leaves and spices (except fennel seeds) and cook till fragrant and spices turn golden.
2) Add fennel seeds, stir and cook for a minute.
3) Then add chopped tomatoes, sprinkle some salt, mix, cover and cook for 5 to 7 mts on medium heat.

1) Soak almonds or cashews in hot water for 1 hour. I used oatbran, so just added this to the blended tomato paste.
2) Liquefy the soaked nuts with the water in the blender.
3) Then add tomato masala and blend well to make a very smooth puree.
4) Heat up the butter, add ginger and garlic and sweat this for 1-2 minutes.
5) To this add the tomato masala paste, red chilli powder and cook till oil starts to separate from spices, stirring continuously (or until reduced by half or a quarter for large amounts of gravy)
6) Add sugar and possibly more salt to taste
This sauce too can be prepared, then frozen.

To serve:
1) Add cooked chicken pieces, with the liquid, stirring until incorporated.
2) Sprinkle kasoori methi, cover and cook for 5 mts on medium heat.
3) Garnish with fresh cream just before serving.

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