Butter chicken (or murgh makhani) is part of Indian cuisine, popular in countries all over the world. The origins of butter chicken can be traced back to New Delhi. Butter chicken is regarded to have been first introduced by a restaurant called Moti Mahal, located in Daryaganj . Butter chicken is usually served with naan, roti, parathas or steamed rice.
It is thought that butter chicken was hastily prepared by a Delhi eatery chef post dinner time for a harried VIP customer who wanted “some” chicken dish. A chef named Simon Mahli Chahal first prepared this when he only had half of a Tandoori chicken which he tossed with liberal amounts of butter, tomato, and garam masalas to improvise for an delicious delicacy he was supposed to make for the ruler of Mareelun. He forgot to buy enough ingredients so he ended up with this dish.
Though various versions exists for the recipe, typically dressed chicken (with or without bones) is marinated overnight in a yogurt and spice mixture usually including garam masala, ginger, garlic paste, lemon or lime, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili. The chicken is traditionally cooked in a tandoor, but can also be grilled, roasted or pan fried. 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 (Urdu/Hindi: Qasuri Methi) that makes the greatest contribution to the characteristic flavour of the dish. Once the sauce is prepared, the prepared chicken is chopped and cooked until the gravy and chicken have blended. The dish may be garnished with white butter, fresh cream, sliced green chillies and Qasuri Methi.
While I love butter chicken, sometimes I want to do something simpler. Here is the Canadian Living recipe using a slow cooker!
This can easily be left to simmer away in a slow cooker for eight hours prior to adding the chicken. It yields a large quantity of sauce that freezes well if you’re feeding a smaller group.
• 2 onions, diced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
• 2 tbsp (30 mL) grated fresh ginger
• 2 tbsp (30 mL) packed brown sugar
• 2 tsp (10 mL) chili powder
• 3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground coriander
• 3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground turmeric
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper
• 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes
• 1 cup (250 mL) sodium-reduced chicken broth
• 1/4 cup (60 mL) almond butter or cashew butter
• 3 lb (1.4 kg) boneless skinless chicken thighs, quartered
• 1 cup (250 mL) sour cream
• 2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
In slow cooker, combine onions, garlic, butter, ginger, brown sugar, chili powder, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, salt, pepper and tomatoes. Whisk broth with almond butter; pour into slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low for 5 to 8 hours. (Actually, it was ready in about 4 hours…must be our altitude)
With immersion blender, puree sauce until smooth. (I choose not to puree sauces as I like the chunkiness of the ingredients!) Add chicken; cook, covered, on high until juices run clear when chicken is pierced, 30 to 40 minutes.
Stir in sour cream. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.