Butter Chicken

I had my first ever Butter Chicken at Moti Mahal (Punjabi Bagh), Delhi. And for this reason, my Butter Chicken standards are very, VERY high. I dislike half ass butter chickens just as much as I love a beautifully made one. I have been trying to perfect my recipe for a couple of years now and I think I am finally ready to share a recipe. Okay, in all honesty, I still wouldn’t say this is the best I have had BUT it’s getting pretty damn close. If you’d like to give it a shot, here goes.

This recipe is not easy and is split into two – the grilled chicken/chicken tikka and the Butter Chicken sauce. For most of us who don’t have a tandoor at arm’s reach this is the most we can do. But a properly made grilled chicken, with the right spices is one of the base points of this recipe so, try not to cut corners.

Also! This recipe works well for a Paneer Butter Masala too 🙂 Marinate the paneer with the marinade for chicken tikka and grill it before adding to the sauce. Works well without grilling too. You can add the paneer as it is.

Chicken Tikka in oven

Things you will need:

  • Boneless chicken- 500 grams cut into bite sized pieces
  • Skewers

Marinade:

  • Greek yoghurt- 3 tablespoons
  • Garam Masala- 2 teaspoons
  • Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder- 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric Powder- ½ teaspoon
  • Ginger garlic paste made with 1 inch stick of ginger and 4-5 cloves of garlic or storebought ginger garlic paste- 1 ½ teaspoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Kasuri Methi- 1 teaspoon
  • Cooking oil- 2 tablespoons

How to go about it

  1. Make a marinade with all the ingredients listed under “Marinade.”
  2. Marinate the chicken pieces thoroughly with the marinade and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour. Overnight tops.
  3. When ready to prepare the chicken tikka, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a tray with baking paper or aluminium foil. Thread the marinated pieces of chicken on the skewers without overcrowding them. Place the skewers on the tray. Even better if you can balance the skewers on the parallel edges so that the pieces do not touch the bottom of the tray.
  4. Bake the chicken in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the edges char lightly. In case you can’t balance the skewers on the edges, take the tray out at half time and turn the pieces around so that the sides which was touching the base of the tray is now on the top.
  5. Once done, keep the chicken tikka aside while we prepare the sauce.

Butter Chicken Sauce

Things you will need:

  • Unsalted butter- 50 grams or 2 two inch cubes. More if you like. Keep the butter divided into three parts. Salted butter works too but you’ll need to keep an eye on the salt you add later.
  • Onion – 1 medium sized or half of a large one, finely chopped
  • Green cardamom pods- 3
  • Bayleaf – 2
  • Tomatoes- 4 large or 5 medium sized, roughly chopped
  • Cashews- 10
  • Ginger garlic paste made with 1 inch stick of ginger and 4-5 cloves of garlic or storebought ginger garlic paste- 1 ½ teaspoon
  • Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder- ½ tablespoon
  • Water- 1 cup
  • Garam Masala- ½ teaspoon
  • Whole cream- ¼ cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar- 2 teaspoons
  • Kasuri Methi- 1 ½ teaspoon
  • A mixer grinder or immersion blender

How to go about it

  1. In a large pan/wok, heat one part of the butter kept aside. Medium heat. Once the butter melts (and before it browns), add the cardamom pods and bay leaf. Fry for 15-20 seconds or until the flavour releases into the fat. Next, add the finely chopped onions. Saute until they turn translucent. Add a tiny bit of salt to speed up the process. Once the onions are translucent, add the ginger garlic paste. Saute for 30 seconds or until the raw smell goes away.
  2. Next, add the chopped tomatoes and Kashmiri red chilli powder. Saute everything for 20-30 seconds. Add the cashews and 1 cup water, mix it all up and cover the pan. Let it cook on medium to low heat for 15 minutes. Stir it all up once in between to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Once that is done, take the pan off the heat and fish out the bay leaf.
  4. Now is the tricky part. If you are using an immersion blender, transfer the (hot) contents into the blender jar and grind into a smooth paste. However, if you are using a regular mixer grinder, you will need to wait for the mixture to cool down before you grind it all. Please, PLEASE do not attempt to grind it while it is piping hot. I have done it once and I won’t repeat it again. Once reasonably cool, grind the mixture into a smooth paste.
  5. Next, you need to strain the now smooth paste. Strain it into another bowl, using a spoon to keep stirring to make sure you get the maximum out of the paste. Discard what remains in the strainer. Keep the smooth, velvety sauce aside.
  6. Place a (clean) pan on medium heat and add the second part of butter. Once the butter melts, pour in the sauce. Mix well for 10-15 seconds. Now, you may add the salt and the sugar. Add in parts. Getting the right sugar salt balance is the ultimate key for a good Butter Chicken. Keep doing a taste test every now and then till you get it right. The should not be overtly sweet but it should have that light sweetness. Salt to balance the sweetness.
  7. Add the garam masala. Mix well.
  8. Next, add the cream, and keep mixing until the sauce begins to boil lightly. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the third part of butter and crushed kasuri methi. Mix well.
  9. Now add your chicken tikka to the beautiful sauce. Mix well. Allow everything to cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes.
  10. Take off the stove, give a quick swirl of cream to garnish and serve hot with Naans or Rotis.

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