This dish has gone on to become comfort food I yearn for on cold nights. Sizzling succulent tender chicken pieces enrobed in a creamy spicy sauce scooped up with a piece of buttery garlicky naan is incredibly heart warming and heaty – a good juxtaposition to the soft snowfall outside your window.
A Delhi restaurant owner created this mildly spiced sauce to serve tandoor cooked chicken and thus the ever popular butter chicken was born. He created this dish to prevent the chicken from drying after cooking them in a tandoor.
I have eaten butter chicken mostly in India and in Indian restaurants abroad.This dish can be made at home easily. The chicken can be grilled or pan fried according to your convenience.I have not used any colours for this dish except for Kashmiri chilli powder that lends a red colour.
The chicken can be marinated ahead of time and left in the refrigerator overnight to absorb all the intense flavours.
Time: Total time of 1 hour & 50 minutes -10 hours (10 minutes preparation +1 hour or overnight marination + 30 minutes cooking time + 20 minutes cooling time for the gravy before blending it)
Serves: 3-4 persons
For the marinade:
800 grams of Chicken thighs boned and cubed into 4 cm cubes, washed and drained in a colander
3 tbsp thick yogurt or greek yogurt
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
2 tsp ginger & garlic paste
A few drops of lime/lemon juice
A few grinds of black pepper/1/4 tsp black pepper powder
2 tsp oil
For the butter gravy:
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 medium sized fresh tomatoes, cut into small cubes and blended in a blender or food processor / 2 tsp tomato puree
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ginger and garlic paste
1 tbsp dried Kasoori methi/fenugreek leaves
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp roasted cumin powder
100-200 ml hot water
½ tsp garam masala
2 tbsp cream/milk
2-4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
Chopped coriander leaves to garnish
1.Rub lime/lemon juice, salt and pepper into chicken cubes; leave aside for ten minutes while you prepare the rest of the items.
2.Add the yogurt, kashmiri chilli powder, oil and ginger garlic paste; mix well and add it to the chicken pieces to coat well. Cover and leave it for at least 30 minutes to marinate or overnight in the refrigerator.
If you are pan frying the chicken-
Heat 1tbsp oil in a non stick pan. When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces in a single layer; fry until they begin to brown in the edges turning them a couple of times. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and keep them warm. In the same pan, make the gravy. The leftover crumbs and oil will intensify the flavour and colour of the gravy.
If you are grilling the chicken-
Preheat your grill.
If you are using wooden skewer soak them in water for 15 minutes as this will prevent the skewer from burning while grilling the meat.
Thread the chicken pieces onto a skewer and brush with oil.
Grill them until they turn golden (about 15 minutes 71/2 minutes on each side)basting them in between. Remove and keep them warm.
To make the gravy-
1.Heat oil in a nonstick pan; when the oil is hot add the bay leaves,cumin seeds, ginger & garlic paste and fry until light brown.
2.Add the chopped onion and salt.Fry on slow fire until the onion is soft and light brown.
3.Crush the kasoori methi leaves in your palm and add it along with cashew, cumin powder, coriander powder and Kashmiri chili powder and fry for a minute without letting them brown.
4.Add the blended tomato/tomato puree or chopped tomato. Cook on slow fire until oil floats on top. If it is too dry, add 100 ml of hot water. Oil floating is a good indication that everything is cooked/ combined well into the gravy and in Indian dishes and that the dish that you are making will have a nice colour and aroma.
5.Remove from fire and leave it to cool; remove the bay leaves. When cold, transfer to a blender or food processor; blend or process until the gravy is smooth.
6.Rinse the pan with cold water; wipe it with kitchen towel.
7.Heat butter on slow fire. When hot, transfer the gravy to the pan; let the gravy come to a rolling boil. If the gravy is too thick, add the rest of the hot water. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 10 minutes.Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.Switch off the cooker and add the cream/milk. Sprinkle garam masala. Serve hot garnished with coriander leaves.
Enjoy with naan or hot steamed rice.