Sunday, March 28, 2010

Murgh Makhani, Butter Chicken

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(4-6 servings)

This wonderful Indian dish features marinated chicken braised in a a spiced tomato cream sauce. It's one of those dishes which seems to taste even better reheated the next day.

Last week, a fellow at work mentioned there was a new Whole Foods near his office. As soon as I was done for the day I raced over there to check it out. It's a bit further than the one I've been going to, but the route is more direct, making it easier to get to.

I went all out in the bulk spice section. Everything was fresh (the store had only been open for one week). Among the 15 or so spices I ended up getting, was ground cardamon. That wonderful odour filled my entire kitchen within an hour or two.

Chicken Marinade
3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
2 tbsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
8 chicken thighs,  skinless and boneless (about 1 1/2 lbs) cut into bite-size pieces
(you could use breasts instead, I just happen to love thighs)

2 tbsp ghee or clarified butter (or regular butter, if you wish)
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp garam masala*
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp chili powder
small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
a pinch or two of cayenne if you prefer more heat
salt to taste

Combine all of the chicken marinade ingredients in a bowl and let sit for an hour or two.

Heat the ghee or butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic and jalapeno pepper and fry until the onion  becomes transparent; about 5-7 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, honey, garam masala, turmeric, fenugreek and chili powder. Stir to combine well. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 35-45 minutes, or until the mixture is very soft.

Remove the cover and raise the heat a touch, and add the chicken and all it's marinade. When everything starts to simmer, lower the heat again, cover  and cook for about an hour.

Remove the cover and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring a bit from time to time; about 5-10 minutes.

Stir in the cilantro and heavy cream. Check for seasoning. Cook for another minute or two, remove from heat. Nice with rice or naan.

*Garam Masala - in recent years I have noticed this more and more in the spice section of regular grocery stores. The brands can vary somewhat, but typically this is any combination of cinnamon, coriander, fennel, cumin, black pepper, cardamon, nutmeg, star anise, bay leaves and cloves.


Kath said...

This looks amazing! I'll have to try it!

linda (@saltyseattle) said...

I make my own version that I learned from an Indian restaurant in Torino, Italy of all places! The chef there was Punjabi, I am American, but our communications were always in Italian. This might not have seemed odd, us communicating in both our second languages, but he also had a stutter, and I'd only been in Italy for a few months at the time, so the conversations were full of much pantomime :) In any case, your version looks amazing, more fleshed out than the one I got out of him, and although mine is delicious, I'll be bookmarking this page so I can give it a go next time Indian is in order. Thanks!

Cookie said...

I love Indian food but rarely make it myself since all the ingredients seem so complicated. This looks like something I could make and I've definitely seen garam masala at the supermarket. Thanks for the recipe! Oh and we love thigh MUCH better than breast as well!

Memória said...

I made tandoori murgh makhani just a couple of weeks ago! The recipe was a bit more involved than yours, but it was fantastic. I bet this is extremely good as well! It looks beautiful. Do you have the recipe for the naan?

Gerlinde in Washington said...

The recipe for the naan is here:

Peggy said...

This looks absolutely amazing! Can't wait to try it!

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