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carrying on with the Butter Chicken saaga...
About this ' leftover marinade in the pan'. I do not think it is marinade but rather chicken juices. Busy restaurants like Moti Mahal do not usually start with a raw marinated birds when you order a tandoori chicken but stick a 'half done tandoori chicken into the tandoor to finish it off quickly. Tandoori chickens are prepared ahead in anticipation of the rush hour and kept half done in a pan. They release some juices akin to a demiglaze or 'tandoori jus roti'.
It perhaps this 'marinade' to which the tomatoes and butter are added.
Anyway I called up New Delhi and spoke to the current owner of Moti Mahal (we were in hotel school together) he told me that he was getting a lot of press in regard to tandoori chicken and butter chicken and Zee TV had also covered then recentlyabout this. I did not quiz him too much about his butter chicken though. You do not call up someone after 20 years, ask him how he is doing and " by the way what is your reciepe for butter chicken?". When I knew this gentleman, cooking was not his forte and we sometimes wondered what he was doing in hotel school ( if he reads this I am dead) , so I am going to wait till I visit India next and post my review hopefully with lots of pictures.
A web search indicates that there are "Moti Mahals" all througout the world (even Calgary!) but I suspect that none are associated with the original restaurant. When I lived in Tucson, AZ. there was a pretty good restaurant called Sher-e-Punjab, which I'm pretty sure had nothing to do with Sher-e-Punjab in Bombay, but that's another story. . .
skchai Try a google search for Moti Mahal Daryaganj Delhi Enjoy Bhasin
(1) For the correction regarding the marinade. . . I just can't seem to get the story right! It may also give a hint into why Moti Mahal's original version of butter chicken is so prized - cream and concentrated (spiced) chicken essence sounds like an almost sinfully delicious base for a gravy! Perhaps one of these days I'll have a chance to visit Delhi and dine there myself. . .
(2) For the Daryaganj advice on the search string. Helped me to luck into to the mouthshut.com site, which seems to be a huge resource for user-supplied restaurant reviews. Wish they carried some pictures, though. . .
MOTI MAHAL VISIT.......... the ultimate BUTTER CHICKEN LITMUS TEST
Was in Delhi DEC 2003 and as promised made the trek to the origional Moti mahal in Daryagunj, the old part of Delhi on a cold rainy night.
I had returned perhaps after almost 35 years and to me the place looked about the same. There is an outdoor courtyard used for dining during the summer months and an attatched dining hall which as per current standards can only be described as plain and rather run down. In spite of that the seats were very comfortable and the tables rather low but perfect for dining.
We got down to bussiness right away and ordered
Butter Chicken ( boneless)
The meal come in approx five minutes. Which was surprising as I had anticipated a wait but I guess they already had the sauce simmering and the tandoori chicken roasted and pulled.
The butter chichen was, I am sorry to report, dissapointing. The sauce( which was kind of runny) did not have any character and tasted of raw chilli ( cayenne) and the chicken in it did not appear to have any tandoori flavor.
The Brain Masalla was mostly a masalla of sauteed onion, tomato, ginger garlic and garam masalla with very little brain.
While the tandoori roti and paratha were good. The nan was leathery and chewy.
The sevice though was excellent and very attentive without being obtrusive.
I have mentioned ealier on this thread that my favorite butter chicken is at the Mughal Mahal restaurant in Rajendra place, owned incidently by the father of Vivin on this forum ( who was earlier associated with the origional Moti Mahal).
While I did not get an opportunity this time to visit them , I recieved a flier in the newspaper, where they said that The Economic Times, in their edition dated Dec 05th 03 had declared that the world's best butter chicken is at Mughal Mahal, Rajendra Place, New Delhi. I could not acess the paper to get complete details but with an endorsement like that have to go there next visit.
The meal come in approx five minutes. Which was surprising as I had anticipated a wait but I guess they already had the sauce simmering and the tandoori chicken roasted and pulled. The butter chichen was, I am sorry to report, dissapointing.
my favorite butter chicken is at the Mughal Mahal restaurant in Rajendra place, owned incidently by the father of Vivin on this forum ( who was earlier associated with the origional Moti Mahal).
Thanks for the update and a new pointer. Being on a very tight schedule, I cannot afford to have a lousy meal when I go out to a restaurant in DEL/BOM
So these pronunciations apply even if it is spelled with a second A (ie, makhani)?
Is so the second A would be silent.
Yes. It has to do with transliteration from Hindi into English. All Hindi consonants have an inherent "a" sound (like the u in but) unless they are a "half" of a consonant combining with another. Sometimes the inherent "a" is not fully emphasized in the common pronunciation of a word. There are different styles used to transliterate so sometimes things are spelt in more than one way in Roman script.
So the second "a" in makhan is the inherent "a" that is part of "kh". There would be another way to write it in Hindi if you were following "kh" with the vowel "aa" (pronounced sort of like the o in pot or cot). Then it would probably be spelled in English like this "makhaan".
Here is an example: PAALAK is spinach and PALAAK is eyelash!
Maybe a true native speaker would be able to give a better explanation
This thread seriously needs to be revived. After having the butter chicken at Moti Mahal in April (2011) I have been on and off obsessed with finding out exactly what they put in their sauce. Previously I have googled around for recipes, but they vary too much, and when I eventually tried one it was very far from what I remembered. I even checked out a Punjabi restaurant in my vicinity which had it on the menu, but it was far far away from the original, it was actually blood red, I don't think they had much, if any, butter or cream in it.
To see how they actually make the dish at Moti Mahal check out The Delhi Wallah's Blog (a mostly excellent blog on Delhi btw). His description of the dish is very much how I would describe it myself:
Best had with tandoori roti or naan, butter chicken is extremely creamy, with a thick, red tomato gravy. It tastes slightly sweet and the sauce percolates so deeply into the chicken pieces that they become juicy and soft, instantly melting in your mouth. The dish is so extravagantly buttery, that, to a calorie-conscious diner, it may seem as gross as the showiness of nouveau riche Delhiites. A gourmand, however, does not care. The butter chickens addictive quality makes it difficult for him to stop before licking all the gravy off the plate.
It has a very distinct tangy tomato flavor which makes it a little sweet, and quite spicy due to whole green chillies added to the sauce, the butter and cream makes it very heavy, and the finish of cilantro/coriander makes it fresh, it all balanced up perfectly. What I would like to know is what additional spices they may use in the sauce. My guess is, like someone mentioned earlier in this thread that it might be these: ginger, garlic, cardamon, cloves, garam masala, and dried fenugreek leaves. But it might even be more simple than this. So, after eight years, are you guys still here and has anyone come closer to reveiling the secrets of this recipe?
It is very interesting to read a thread that dates back to 2003. These days my first stop for questions is wikipedia, and so to address the original question of 'what exactly is butter chicken' here is the link to wikipedia's article on the same dish. It is interesting to note the reference to a documentary on butter chicken by the Discovery Channel, I guess those who are seriously interested will be able to track that down on the internet too.
Wikipedia emphasises the difference between the Indian dish and the English 'chicken tikka masala', which itself is a dish of obscure origins. There are a number of speculative stories about the origins of chicken tikka masala and several restaurants claim they invented it, including one in London called 'Gaylords' which was around the corner from where I worked and had a sign out the front staking their claim. It is often quoted that a 1998 survey of 48 British restaurants found that the only common ingredient they had in chicken tikka masala was chicken.
In Australia I have seen many restaurants and take-aways which list butter chicken and chicken tikka masala as being the same thing, but in England I noticed that butter chicken, or murgh makhani, was often not on the menu at all, and if it was then it was definitely listed as a different dish to the ever-present chicken tikka masala.
Regarding Butter Chicken, or Murgh Makhani, I have a pre-packaged spice mix that contains (in proportional order) paprika, cumin, coriander, tumeric, pepper, fennel, ginger, cinnamon, fenugreek, cardamon, chilli, cloves, caraway and mint. The local supermarket had a much simpler 'butter chicken' packet mix containing garam masala, cardamon pods and fenugreek leaves.
I had a favourite recipe for butter chicken that I unfortunately lost, I recall that it contained pureed cashews and a dollop of honey.
In addition to the stories from Wikipedia I also read (source unknown) that Moti Mahal orginally was a restaurant in Peshawar before the Partition (1947), which moved to Delhi and Dharyaganj where it's found today. I think Butter Chicken was first made before they moved.
The sauce, is made by heating and mixing butter, tomato puree, and various spices, often including cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, pepper, fenugreek and fresh cream. Cashew paste can also be added, and will make the gravy thicker. Of all the spices added to the dish it is dried fenugreek leaves [...] that makes the greatest contribution to the characteristic flavor of the dish.
I'm not at all skilled when it comes to recognizing all ingredients in food, but the freshnesss of the tomato makes me think the spice mix used at Moti Mahal is quite simple. Is this a logical conclusion?
Youtube - Butter Chicken: I have found this video which might be from the kitchen of Moti Mahal, at least I heard the words Dharyaganj, and Moti Mahal in between the Hindi. If anyone speaks Hindi and could translate what he says that would be great. There's also a recipe under which looks quite promising.
I could also add that I've had Butter Chicken at another restaurant in Delhi, called Havemore, in Pandara Road Market which tasted very much the same.
Interesting. No, wait, the other thing ... tedious.
I posted this in the "Recipes That Rock 2011" thread. I've made this butter chicken recipe many times and it's incredible. The video is from michelin starred Tamarind restaurant and the recipe is theirs. Give it a shot!
The recipe is long and since I've already gone through the work to write it all up from the video instructions, here it is:
1. Wash chicken in cold water and then pat dry
2. Add paste and salt and mix thoroughly with chicken
3. Mix the yogurt and chili goes in a new bowl and then mix with the chicken then add vegetable oil and marinade for 4 hours
4. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and broil for 10 to 15 minutes ensuring that all of the pieces get browned / charred
5. Once cool, cut chicken into bite sized pieces and then cover and chill
6. While chicken is marinating or chilling you can make the sauce
7. Heat oil over Medium heat and then add spices and stir for 2 minutes.
8. Add the ginger and stir for 1 minute and then add the chilies
9. Put the fresh tomatoes in pan set to medium heat and stir for 2 minutes
10. Add 100ml water and cover simmering for 20 minutes.
11. Remove any whole spices and the chilies then puree the mixture into a sauce and put back into the pan and simmer
12. Take 50g of Cashews and blend into a powder then add water to turn it into a paste
13. Add the Tomato Paste and Cashew Paste to the sauce
14. Add Chilli Powder and Honey to sauce and stir for 3 minutes
15. Add the butter and stir until it melts
16. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tsp dried and crushed fenugreek
17. Simmer for 20 minutes
18. In another pan melt some better and first chop and then add the last 25g of Cashews to the pan
19. Stir and brown the cashews and then add the chicken pieces you cooked earlier and cook on high heat for 3 minutes
20. Add the sauce and the cream then stir it all together for 3 more minutes it should be simmering
21. Serve in a bowl, drizzle in some cream and top with some additional ground fenugreek
Thanks, I might just have a go at that one later on... there's a butter shortage in Norway these days, so maybe I'll wait with butter chicken.
There's only a couple of tablespoons of butter in butter chicken anyway and some older recipes have no butter in them. The name comes from how the cooking process makes the chicken "buttery", not the butter in the sauce.
That reads like a very good tasting Butter Chicken. I think I have seven totally different recipes in my Indian Cook Books.
A few days ago I wanted Butter Chicken but for a couple of reasons wasn't able to do much cooking. I found a jar of "Butter Chicken Sauce" at Safeway and, believe me, I cannot recommend it. Terribly sweet, and just tasted like there were things missing, especially spices.
I added some more salt and a large spoonful of butter and it did improve it a bit.