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Makhni/Butter Chicken


tryska
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Hi there - this is something that is ubiquitous on Indian menus here in Atlanta, but i'm not entirely sure what it's suppsoed to be.

in some places it appears to be tired bits of tandoori chicken in a red sauce, other places it's a divinely buttery chicken curry with a tomato base, and a recipe i ran across yields a golden yellow chicken curry.

any ideas?

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Hello there,

Simply put, its marinated charcoal broiled 'tandoori chicken' in a curried creamy tomato sauce flavoured predominantly, besides ginger and garlic, with cardamon and cloves and finished off with garam masalla and dried fenugreek (methi) leaves.

Called butter( rather buttery) chicken due to the tenderness of the meat which was very deirable in earleir days as free range birds that were available took some cooking. Also because of the richness of the sauce which does contain a substantial amount of butter.

Numerous variations exist, even in India but essentially its as described above

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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Ach. There's an Indian restaurant here that does a version that's one of the best things I've ever tasted. At all, not just for Indian food. And then I try it at other places and it's something fairly different and thus disappointing. For all I know, the one I like is the most inauthentic. They seem to use leftover tandoori chicken and the sauce is very creamy, thick, rich, buttery, and more golden than red. Other places it's not so creamy, almost a broth, and much redder.

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What is the difference between Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter chicken / Chicken Makhni ?

Besides using Chicken Tikka in CTM and Tandoori Chicken in Makhni. :laugh:

According to Camilla Panjabi, Butter Chicken was invented at Moti Mahal in Delhi during the 1960s to use up leftover Tandoori Chicken.

Chicken Tikka Masala was apparently invented in Great Britain about the same time. There is a popular story that some restaurant owner poured Campbell's condensed tomato soup on top of Chicken Tikka because a customer demanded gravy. No wonder no one steps up to take credit for inventing it. The Guardian ran a hyperlink special on it a couple years ago after Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said something to the effect that CTM was the British "national dish" - trying to score diversity points or something.

So if anything Butter Chicken is more "authentically" Indian despite the English name. It also seems to have the more clearly codified recipe, since virtually all versions I've tried have kept true to the tomato / butter / methi combination, as BBhasin points out. CTM on the other hand can be just about anything as long as it has chicken and tomato in it. The chicken can be anything from tandoored tikka to microwaved chicken nuggets; the sauce anything from fresh pureed tomatos to the tradition Campbell's (diluted or not). So one could say that Butter Chicken is a proper subset of CTM.

Murgh Makhni on the other hand has been around for quite a long time. Presumably the term can be used for dishes that contain no tomato, as long as they contain sufficient cream / butter in the gravy. So Butter Chicken is also a proper subset of Murgh Makhni. Or perhaps I am wrong about this?

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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Other day I had an unusual request from a customer of mine for a take out. The order taker happily recieved the order for two CTM's and one was requested to be modified to Murgh Makhni.

Peter Beck and myself were cooking on that particular night. So we both opted to do one dish each, he picked CTM and I was doing M.Makhni. Obviously I used Tandoori Chicken peeled meat and Peter used Chicken Tikka. They both tasted exactly the same except M.Makhni I ended up adding more melted butter/ghee and the dish looked a little darker with less cream and may be also because I used the Tandoori Thigh and the breast for makhni.

Later I ended up asking few of the local chefs and Peter Beck about the difference on these two dishes and I did not get a straight answer from neither.

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What is the difference between Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter chicken / Chicken Makhni ?

Besides using Chicken Tikka in CTM and Tandoori Chicken in Makhni. :laugh:

I posted the foll in CTM, in conjuction with skchai's post above it might answer your question

CHICKEN TIKKA MASALLA

Here is my contribution to this interesting thread

Is it authentic Indian cuisine???

That depends on what you consider authentic. As recent as ten years ago more people in the UK than in India knew about Chicken Tikka Masalla, which might lead people to think that it was perhaps concocted in that part of the world.

After reading this thread I have been trying to come up with why the name ‘Chicken Tikka Masalla’ and why did this popular dish make its way back to India and Indian Cuisine via the West.

Chicken tikka ( Marinated charcoal broiled pieces of chicken) are invariably used.

Masalla to an Indian ( specially a North Indian) denotes napped in a thickish mash of gravy with herbs and spices.

Busy restaurants in India( especially those with a high tandoori volume) would, to speed up service, charcoal broil skewers of chicken tikka until they were half done. This was then held, usually under a moist cloth to prevent it’s drying off and finished when an order came in. At the end of the day some skewers would still remain as it is difficult to anticipate 100% how many orders of chicken tikka you will get that night.

Chicken tikka Masalla I believe, was born in an attempt by the chef to utilize this left over half done chicken tikka and is actually what you might call a rechaufe.

At the end of dinner, remember restaurant hours are 8pm until midnight in India, the manager wanted his meal. The manager wanted something different from the stuff on the menu and the chef, tired after the long day, looked around to see what was at hand and what do you know there was this chicken tikka, lying half done that they could not move. He simply dressed it up and chicken tikka masalla was born. In my opinion it is incorrect for the Brits to claim that they created this wonderful dish.

I distinctly remember two versions from my Hotels and Restaurant experience in India ( 1971 until 1986, when I came to the US)

Version One- Heat oil in a pan. Add chopped onion, ginger, garlic & green chillies. Saute for a few minutes until the onions begin to brown at the edges. Add garam masalla, a little cayenne & sauté a minute. Add Chopped tomatoes and cook till they soften. Add chicken tikka, cook until it warms through and the oil leaves the sides of the pan. Add a bit more garam masalla, a little dried methi and chopped fresh coriander leaves. The result will look a little bit like ‘Bhunna’

Version Two- This version was creamy. Heat oil in a pan add chopped onion and chopped green peppers ( Simla Mirch) sauté till the onions turn translucent. Add pieces of chicken tikka ( cut them up if they are too big) and continue to sauté another minute. Add garam masalla and dried methi sauté another minute. Add a sauté spoon of onion gravey and 1/3 saute spoon of makhani sauce. Cook a few minutes then add diced tomatoes and 1/3 cup heavy cream. Cook till the sauce thickens add water/stock to correct consistency and check seasoning, be generous with the chopped cialntro.

My brother in law ( an avid foodie) is visiting. What is Chicken Tikka Masalla I asked him innocently . This is usually sold outside liquor stores in Dehra Doon ( that’s where he is from) he told me and he went on to describe ‘version One’ above with the exception that it was prepared on a tawa ( a large round griddle sloping slightly in the middle)

Difference between Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masalla – I have been to numerous places where they have both on the menu and turn out nearly similar, in the same red sauce. But if you prepare tikka masalla as above you note the difference.

One of the best versions of Chicken tikka masalla I enjoyed was some time ago off the frozen food shelves of Marks & Spencers in London.

But it truly is a very popular dish, see the number of views this thread has had.

I do hope I have been able to educate and entertain, as this thread kept pulling me and it took me ( I am a one finger typist) over a week to put all this together. I now await your feedback.

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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What is the difference between Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter chicken / Chicken Makhni ?

Besides using Chicken Tikka in CTM and Tandoori Chicken in Makhni. :laugh:

:smile:

Butter Chicken (masala)

Murg Makhni

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Makhanwala

On one hand none of these creations are from mainstream Indian foods. Which leaves it open to altercations.

On the other, some definitive distinction is necessitated.

Prasad2’s query of a distinction is a brave and honest attempt of finding the factual.

The revolution of Indian foods seems to have been smothered by Murg Makhni and Chicken Tikka Masala. Though a lot of good work is done in India about Indian foods, a lot more needs to be done on the global scene.

For a fact this was a concoction made from left over Tandoori Chicken and not Chicken Tikka as some Colonial may want to amend it.

For a fact, we are not too sure of the original composition. But to say the least with an affirmative confidence, it would include tomatoes, butter, powdered spices and lightly roasted crushed qasoori methi.

The distinction lies in the method of preparing the base sauce.

A “Makhni” sauce is a smooth pureed simmered sauce made with blanched tomatoes, butter, seasonings and spices.

A “Butter Masala” sauce on the other hand is made from chopped ingredients instead of pureed.

Using Chicken Tikka in place of Tandoori chicken is a matter of choice, politically influenced by the clientele. It is probably easier to handle the silver on a boneless piece of grilled chicken floating in a sauce than a chicken on the bone.

Chicken Tikka Masala – as the name suggests should have a coarse sauce. But in reality it is Chicken Tikka Makhni. The term Masala – is more identifiable with the foods of the sub continent. The word Makhni is a suave term normally used by people from the subcontinent.

How these sauces are fortified specifically in different establishments is a matter outside the scope of this discussion and left more to the discretion of the Chef.

I would certainly agree with BBhasin - there is a certain amount of distinction between the two.

Again this distinction is a deliberate attempt to segregate the primitive from the refined. Better Hotels and restaurants in the days when greasy foods were popular with the masses developed a smoother variety of the “Butter Masala” sauce and ergo the “Makhni Sauce”. Interestingly this sauce (unfinished) has been one of the basic sauces in Indian kitchens for quite some time.

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all of this is furthering the chicken tikka masala/chicken makhni education i sorely need.

i went to one of our more upscale indian restaurants here last night, and ordered chicken makhni - they had chicken tikka masala too.

it was...ok.

it tasted sweet actually - a creamy orangey sauce that tasted of tomato, but only brought to mind the fearsome tale of cream of tomato soup poured atop tandoori chicken.

this imo was bad, but at least i could sop the gravy up with a stellar naan.

i ate half and have half still left in my fridge. i'm wondering if anyone has any tips for finishing off this sauce so it doesn't taste..so..sweet tomato-ey? salt is the obvious answer, mind.

perhaps next time i go to this restaurant i will give the chicken tikka masala a try and see how it differs at this particular place.

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all of this is furthering  the chicken tikka masala/chicken makhni  education i sorely need. 

i went to one of our more upscale indian restaurants here last night, and ordered chicken makhni - they had chicken tikka masala too.

it was...ok.

it tasted sweet actually - a creamy orangey sauce that tasted of tomato, but only brought to mind the fearsome tale of cream of tomato soup poured atop tandoori chicken.

this imo was bad, but at least i could sop the gravy up with a stellar naan.

i ate half and have half still left in my fridge.  i'm wondering if anyone has any tips for finishing off this sauce so it doesn't taste..so..sweet tomato-ey?  salt is the obvious answer, mind.

perhaps next time i go to this restaurant i will give the chicken tikka masala a try and see how it differs at this particular place.

It appears to lack flavor.

In a pan heat one tablespoon of butter.

add two cloves and two green cardamon pods.

saute for a minute, let the flavors infuse.

add a teaspoon of finely chopped ginger.

add a one finely chopped deseeded 'finger hot'(or similar) green chilly.

cook a few minutes.

add the leftover chicken makhani and heat through.

add generous pinch of garam masalla

and another of methi

salt you already say it needs.

the whole process should take you 10-12 minutes

It would be fun if you would share how it turned out.

Edited by BBhasin (log)

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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what is methi? (fenugreek?)

thank you tho - i've got most all of that at home, so i will try to doctor it up - i think it may have been "dumbed" down for the palates in the area.

believe it or not it used to be known (and still maybe known) as on of the best Indian restaurants in Atlanta.

Edited by tryska (log)
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I'm curious whether people in the U.S. and GB are referring to the same thing when they say Chicken Tikka Masala? I don't recall ever seeing "Butter Chicken" on a menu in the U.S.

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well i'd never seen it before moving to Atlanta, but it's all over the menus around here. (either as "Chicken Makhni (Butter Chicken)" or "Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhni)" - i even got a recipe book somewhere that refers to it as such - which is strange - that was the one that yielded a yellow sauce.

From last nights menu - Chicken Tikka Masala was discribed as pieces of Chicken Tikka in a sauce of spices and cream.

Chicken Makhni was described as pieces of tandoori chicken in a sauce of tomato and butter.

another interesting trend i've noticed is a lot of Indian places now have Indian Chinese items on the menu, if not a few totally dedicated to Indian chinese.

lots of mushroom and chicken 65 .

Edited by tryska (log)
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I'm curious whether people in the U.S. and GB are referring to the same thing when they say Chicken Tikka Masala?  I don't recall ever seeing "Butter Chicken" on a menu in the U.S.

There is a certain restaurant opening in NYC.. and the chef there has finally demystified Chicken Tikka Masala and called it Butter Chicken. :shock:

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The last I spoke about the matter of butter chicken with my dad about the origin of Butter Chicken was a few years. But here goes.

The butter chicken hails from the part of Punjab that is now part of Pakistan. The recipe called for melted butter being poured on roasted chicken and there was no cream or tomatoes involved. The original Moti Mahal in the old part of Delhi (a mere 1/2 km from Red Fort) kept the name but transformed the butter chicken with its tomato based sauce. The main flavors were the tanginess of the tomato sauce, sweetness of the heavy cream and the butter and the heat of green chillies finished off with cilantro (just garnish). No methi as far as I remember. The chicken used was a not completely done tandoori chicken. It was NOT a way to use their left over tandoori chicken as suggested here, I am pretty sure.

Incidentally, the original butter chicken survived as what is now known at the Moti Mahal/Mughal Mahal derivative chain of restaurants as Chicken Dil Pasand - pulled roasted chicken in a butter sauce (all butter and chillies for heat). Very tasty, very purist.

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The last I spoke about the matter of butter chicken with my dad about the origin of Butter Chicken was a few years. But here goes.

The butter chicken hails from the part of Punjab that is now part of Pakistan. The recipe called for melted butter being poured on roasted chicken and there was no cream or tomatoes involved. The original Moti Mahal in the old part of Delhi (a mere 1/2 km from Red Fort) kept the name but transformed the butter chicken with its tomato based sauce.

There used to be a very nice restaurant in Khan Market which stuck to the original recipe for Butter Chicken.

MotiMahal´s Butter/Chicken popularity has do do with a rumor that Nehru on his official trips abroad took the bawarchi from Moti Mahal; Butter Chicken was something he served with almonds and black cardamom.......

anil

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Incidentally, the original butter chicken survived as what is now known at the Moti Mahal/Mughal Mahal derivative chain of restaurants as Chicken Dil Pasand - pulled roasted chicken in a butter sauce (all butter and chillies for heat). Very tasty, very purist.

this i would liek to taste.

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WOW.

Now we are getting somewhere. Do we have someone from Delhi here who can checkout Moti Mahal and the other place in Khan Market that Anil remembers? Maybe, based on the description we can try and recreate this old version. The version of just roast chicken with melted butter really sounds interesting, though a once in a lifetime experience. If I go to Delhi this year I shall check these out and report back.

There is this restaurant behind Sidhartha Hotel in Rajendra Place, near Patel Nagar, New Delhi. They do a version that I love. Basically its the same tandoori chicken in a ceamy tomaroey sauce but their sauce is thinner, more like a gravey, creamy but not abundantly rich and the sauce also has tiny bits of blanched tomatoes in it.

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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