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Makhni/Butter Chicken


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This thread seriously needs to be revived.

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.

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I had a favourite recipe for butter chicken that I unfortunately lost, I recall that it contained pureed cashews and a dollop of honey.

I found a number of recipes like that on the net. could this one be similar enough to be able to tweak until it becomes your old favourite?

I'd love to make butter chicken at home one day, so another's favourite recipe would be a good place to start!

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Nice to see some activity here again.

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.

From wikipedia:

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?

: 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.

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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.

...and Red food colouring but I'm sure the restaurants were not too keen to admit that one...


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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:

• 500g Boneless Chicken Thighs


• 25g Garlic Paste

• 25g Ginger Paste

• 1/2 Tsp Salt

• 1/4 Cup Yogurt

• 1/2 Tbsp Chilli Powder

• 1/2 Tsp Garam Masala

• 1/2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil


• 3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

• 4 Cinnamon Sticks

• 5 Green Cardamom Pods

• 5 Cloves

• 2 Bay Leaves

• 3 Thai Chiles (add more for more heat)

• 15g Ginger

• 750g Tomatoes, quartered

• 1/2 Tsp Chilli Powder

• 75g Cashews

• 1 Tbsp Honey

• 1/2 Tbsp Tomato Paste

• 2 Tsp Ground Fenugreek

• 50g Butter

• 60ml Cream

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


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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.

PS: I am a guy.

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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.

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Made the videojug butter chicken last night. Skipped toasting the cashews at the end and used chicken breast but otherwise it was the same. Definitely the best home made butter chicken I've had. Not quite as sweet as the Indian restaurants here make it so I may try adding some more honey next time.


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There's a butter shortage in Norway??

Yes, due to a very bad summer with too much rain (the cows don't produce as much milk under those circumstances apparently), and a very high demand. It has been sold 1000 tonnes more butter so far this year compared to last year, partly it's because of a Low Carb High Fat hysteria which has been going on this year, as well as an increased interest in cooking from scratch.

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

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