Sunday, March 20, 2016

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Murgh Makhani

Murgh Makhani sounds like someone's might be.....but, trust me, it's an incredibly flavorful chicken dish. I came across the dish in a book I was reading.  Just the name intrigued me, so I started doing some research on how to create this dish.

Murgh Makhani, often referred to as Butter Chicken or Indian Butter Chicken is a dish popular in Northern India. According to Wikipedia, “The origins of butter chicken can be traced back to a man named Kundan Lal Gujral, who ran a restaurant called Moti Mahal Delux in Peshawar before the partition of British India. With the partition of British India, Moti Mahal moved to New Delhi. Butter Chicken is regarded to have been first introduced by Moti Mahal in New Delhi”.

The dish can be made with yogurt and chickpea flour.  I found recipes that included fenugreek, cardamom and crushed almonds.  There are very involved recipes that include 3 different marinades and several different cooking methods.

My goal in creating recipes is to make them approachable, with readily available ingredients.  Though, I understand that Garam Masala is probably not a spice blend you have in your spice cabinet, I believe it is worth investing in. You can use Garam Masala on chicken, pork and beef.

So I think I was able to create an easy and simple approach to Murgh Makhani.  And, though, it obviously isn't authentic, it is aromatic, rich and full of flavor. 
Please let me know what you think.

Murgh Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)
6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size chunks
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 ½ teaspoon Garam Masala*
½” piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce, or to taste (or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper)
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream**
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
Lime to garnish
Cilantro to garnish

In a sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat.  Add chicken and sauté for 7 – 8 minutes, stirring often, until the pink is gone.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

In same pan, melt another 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add the onion and saute for 4 – 5 minutes, until just it just begins to soften.  Add garlic, Garam Masala, ginger, Sriracha sauce (or cayenne pepper), chili powder, cumin and cinnamon.  Stirring constantly, cook for 1 minute and then add tomato sauce.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes.  Add cream and chicken, bring back to a simmer and cook for another 25 to 30 minutes on a low simmer, adding more liquid if necessary.  Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter stirring to melt.

Serve over cooked, white rice, Garnish with a squeeze of lime, lime slices and chopped cilantro.

Serve with Naan or Fry bread.

Serves 2

Fry Bread
*Garam Masala is a blend of ground spices used extensively in Indian cuisine. Garam means hot, not so much as spicy, but as in warming the body and Masala means a mixture of spices.  There's no single Garam Masala recipe as the ingredients differ according to region as well as each chef's individual preferences. But for the most part, Garam Masala will include coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Look for Garam Masala as a spice mix in the spice aisle.

**Because you are simmering the mixture, you need to use a dairy product with a high fat content.  If you use anything other than heavy cream, you may curdle the sauce.

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