In 1991 my parents immigrated to America from India. I have travelled to my fair-share of countries, and I can wholeheartedly say that India is unlike any other country I’ve been to. The crowded streets, food vendors, and sense of community makes me proud to say that I am Indian.
Since I grew up as a child of immigrants, but lived in America, I was introduced to a variety of foods ranging from hotdogs at a friends birthday party to comforting daal (lentils) and rice when I was sick. Indian food was a part of me, and I genuinely enjoyed eating spicy chicken curry with my hands from the time I could feed myself.
As a young elementary school student, I remember making friends who ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and looked inquisitively at my biryani. By middle school, those inquisitive looks turned more into disgusted remarks, and slowly I began to bring salads and sandwiches in place of my usual Indian fare.
However, growing up meant I began to embrace my Indian culture…especially the food! During this time, my friends grew up as well, and they began to talk to me about how great Indian food was. They would especially gush over a creamy, mild but flavorful dish at their local Indian restaurant known as butter chicken, especially when they could dunk the soft garlic naan in it…it was unlike anything they had ever tasted.
In Hindi, butter chicken is known as “Murgh Makhani”. This dish originated in Delhi sometime in the 1950s when the chefs of a restaurant called Moti Mahal decided to combine leftover marinade juices of tandoor items with butter and tomato, and then stew the tandoor-cooked chicken in it. This dish would soon become the world-renowned butter chicken.
Many Indian people will tell you that “butter chicken is not really Indian food”. In my family, butter chicken was really something we only ate at restaurants. It is definitely not the most common home-cooked meal. However, my mom being the cook she is, experimented with multiple recipes so that she could re-create it at home. Soon enough, she created her own recipe, which is arguably the best one out there.
Butter chicken is a special dish we make in our house. When my brother comes home from college or we have guests over for dinner, my mom cooks up the aromatic, rich dish. Of course, with butter chicken comes the naan. That’s my job! Having such an amazing chef as a mom, basically means that I have also developed a passion for cooking. So, every time my mom makes the classic dish, I always have fun making the fluffy naan dough smothered with garlic as it’s accompaniment .
I promise…this butter chicken is better than anything you will get at a restaurant.
BEST BUTTER CHICKEN
- 2 LBS boneless chicken thighs or tenderloins
- 2 TBSP plain yogurt
- 2 TBSP tandoori masala powder
- 1 can diced tomatoes blended with 1/2 cup water.
- 1 TBSP ginger-garlic paste (or 1/2 TBSP of each)
- 2 TBSP shredded onion
- 6 TBSP unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or half and half
- 1 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
- 1 TBSP cashew nut paste
- 1 tsp kasoori methi toasted (dried fenugreek leaves)
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- salt to taste
- Wash and dice chicken. Marinate with tandoori masala, yogurt, lemon juice and salt for a minimum of 6 hours (overnight is recommended)
- Heat 2 TBSP butter in a nonstick pan and saute marinated chicken until almost cooked through. Remove from pan.
- Heat 1 TBSP of butter in the same pan add onion and ginger-garlic paste for 1-2 minutes. Lower heat and add cashew nut paste and saute for 2 more minutes. Add blended tomatoes and chili powder. Simmer for 5-6 minutes on low heat.
- Add cooked chicken and simmer for another five minutes. Top with remaining butter and simmer 2 more minutes. Add half and half or cream and kasoori methi. Turn of stove. Rest for five minutes.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and julienned ginger (optional). Serve hot with naan and rice.
FLUFFY GARLIC NAAN
- 3/4 cup 2% milk
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 TBSP vegetable or canola oil
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 8 cloves minced garlic
- butter for spreading
- place all the ingredients (except garlic and butter) into the bread pan of a bread machine (you can also use a food processer on pulse) select dough setting, check after five minutes of kneading and add flour or water as needed.
- when cycle is complete (or dough has formed), turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 small balls. Roll each ball into a THIN oval (if it’s too thick it may be more dough-y). Let the rolled dough rest for five minutes.
- Brush the tops of the naan with water and add about a tablespoon of garlic to the wet side. Place the naan wet side down on a skillet. Cook on medium heat until bubbles form. Flip and rub butter on both sides. Sprinkle with garlic salt (optional) and repeat with remaining dough.
- Eat hot with aforementioned butter chicken or any of your favorite Indian curries. enjoy!
I hope you enjoyed this recipe post. There will be more to come! Please leave me any requests or recommendations, and remember that all you need is good food and good people to share it with.
Happy Living ❤
Featured image by @amir_v_ali on unsplash.com