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Makhni/Butter Chicken


tryska
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>> MotiMahal´s Butter/Chicken popularity has do do with a rumor that Nehru on his official trips abroad took the bawarchi from Moti Mahal;

Rumour, you say. I know the man.

So there you go - It is not a rumor anymore :smile: Do you know the bawarchi in question ? Is he still alive ?

anil

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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.

Welcome, Vivin, and thanks for the correction. It's not Camilla Panjabi's fault, it's mine for misparaphrasing her without checking the original text. Here is what she actually says:

Butter chicken originated in the 1950s at the Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi where they made the sauce by adding butter and tomato to the lefover chicken juices in the marinade trays from which they used to sell hundreds of portions of Tandoori Chicken a day (The Great Curries of India, 91).

So it was the marinade that was leftover, not the chicken itself. Reusing marinade would presumably not be allowed by U.S. health codes, so it might be difficult to recreate the original in a restaurant!

I would second BBhasin in hoping someone will check out the original Moti Mahal, or what remains of it, and send back an eating report. If it now a chain, does the Red Fort branch still exist? How is the food?

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. . .

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

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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QUOTE

Butter chicken originated in the 1950s at the Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi where they made the sauce by adding butter and tomato to the lefover chicken juices in the marinade trays from which they used to sell hundreds of portions of Tandoori Chicken a day (The Great Curries of India, 91).

This is interesting. It is my contention that since the tandoori chicken uses a yoghurt based marinade, the taste of the sauce would be somewhat different than what it was (been a while since I tasted Moti Mahal's butter chicken).

Most of the Moti Mahal's in Delhi are in one way or the other associated with the familiies of the original partners.

I will try and get more information from my father if people are interested in the Butter chicken story.

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I will try and get more information from my father if people are interested in the Butter chicken story.

Yes please. Thanks!

Also, would it be too inquisitive to ask whether your father has/had some connection to Moti Mahal, e.g. via the mysterious bawarchi? Please ignore this part of the query if you don't wish to answer!

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

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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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.

Bombay Curry Company

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

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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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

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-...G=Google+Search

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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The original Moti-mahal's entrance resembled a kitchy punj-marriage-pandal-lighting :sad: Once you got past that, and ordered the butter chicken, mukke-diaya-circa-walle-paayazz to go along..... Yumm....

anil

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Try a google search for Moti Mahal Daryaganj Delhi

Enjoy

Bhasin

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-...G=Google+Search

Thanks (twice) again 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. . .

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

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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  • 4 months later...

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)

Brain Masalla

Nan

Roti

Paratha

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.

Congratulations vivin!

Bombay Curry Company

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

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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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 :smile:

anil

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  • 1 year later...

Hi folks,

new question on the butter chicken:

I've seen it spelled "makhani" and "makhni." How should this be pronounced?

For the latter, I would guess "MOCK-nee," but can it also be pronounced "Ma-CONN-ee?"

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Hi folks,

new question on the butter chicken:

I've seen it spelled "makhani" and "makhni." How should this be pronounced?

For the latter, I would guess "MOCK-nee," but can it also be pronounced "Ma-CONN-ee?"

The first one would be accurate...with a slight aspiration at the K part.

E

Edward Hamann

Cooking Teacher

Indian Cooking

edhamann@hotmail.com

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Hi folks,

new question on the butter chicken:

I've seen it spelled "makhani" and "makhni." How should this be pronounced?

For the latter, I would guess "MOCK-nee," but can it also be pronounced "Ma-CONN-ee?"

Makhan is hindi for butter and Makhani is buttery. The pronunciation should be mukh (say it like muck but instead of "k" ending it has "kh" ending, put emphasis on "kh" and then say "nee".

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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!

Aaaanywaaayyyy!!!!! :blink:

Maybe a true native speaker would be able to give a better explanation

Edward Hamann

Cooking Teacher

Indian Cooking

edhamann@hotmail.com

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So these pronunciations apply even if it is spelled with a second A (ie, makhani)?

Is so the second A would be silent.

sometimes yes and sometimes no.

there is no hard and fast consistent rule

for writing hindi sounds in english.

makkhan = butter = pronounced muck-hun.

makhana = lotus seed (i think) pronounced muck-haa-naa

makhani = buttery = pronounced maakhunee

the use of the letter "a" in english to cover several vowels

in hindi causes this confusion, you need to be familiar with

hindi to read the english words correctly.

and it's important to pronounce correctly otherwise

you can change the whole meaning.....

milagai

(pronounced mill-ug-aaye = hot chili pepper.

NOT milaa-gaai = met a cow)

Edited by Milagai (log)
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and it's important to pronounce correctly otherwise

you can change the whole meaning.....

milagai

(pronounced mill-ug-aaye = hot chili pepper.

NOT milaa-gaai = met a cow)

Thats a good one! :laugh:

And I just realized my mistake.....eyelash or eyelid is palak, not palaak...

Can anyone think of any more words(especially related to food) where pronouncing just the vowel wrong gives a totally different meaning...like paalak and palak?

E

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  • 6 years later...

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 chicken’s 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?

Someone said I should check out Moti Mahal: On the Butter Chicken Trail, I haven't ordered it yet, but probably will at a later time.

Interesting. No, wait, the other thing ... tedious.

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I haven't been to Delhi, but Julie Sahni's recipe for butter chicken (which she calls Velvet Butter Chicken and translates Makhani Murgh) is absolutely fabulous.

It appears in Classic Indian Cooking, which was published in 1980.

Interestingly, she includes a totally separate recipe for chicken tikka masala, which is simply Murgh Masala, and translates Chicken in Onion Tomato Gravy.

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