- Culinary

Binoy Nazareth Goes on a Culinary Travel

Rich. Ravishing. Royal.

I could imagine the aroma of Chicken Makhani making its way across deserts, sand dunes, salt-lakes and the craggy rocks of the riot-ridden regions during the Indo-Pak Partition to reach Delhi on a long, arduous yet delicious journey. Creamy, rich and buttery, Chicken Makhani stems from Punjabi cuisine and has become a hot favorite having been concocted by Kundan Lal Gujral. I simply had to taste this marvelous and popular dish and was stunned to know that it was made with leftover chicken in rich gravy of butter, tomato and cream. Though I had sampled this dish in Mumbai during my adolescent years, there’s nothing like tasting the original at Moti Mahal Delux in Delhi, India.

With its popularity, Chicken Makhani or Butter Chicken is a hearty and robust dish and is served by most of the restaurants in India besides making its simmering way to almost every part of the globe. There are so many variations that go towards the making of Butter Chicken or Chicken Makhani. Some of the chefs use sugar to sweeten the dish while others use honey. In some restaurants, cashew paste is used and in others fenugreek leaves are used to heighten the aroma.

Showcasing the Art of Blending

Being an ardent chef, I was completely intrigued by K. Gujral’s innovative idea of making use of leftover chicken. Showcasing it in a deft and brilliant dish that takes the palate to through a delicious and satisfying travel, Chicken Makhani involves softening dried pieces of chicken which has already been cooked in a Tandoor or clay oven. The trick here is to skillfully combine dairy fat and tomatoes and K. Gujral had used the art of blending in cream, butter and tomatoes to conjure up a delectable curry.

My tour to India in 2013 included a 10-day visit to Delhi where I also visited the Taj Mahal in Agra, a must for every visitor who believes in eternal love and appreciation of all things unique. Actually, one can take the aspect of uniqueness and blend it in with all facets of life. That’s my passion and my forte which showcases trying out unique dishes and mastering its art. Being a gourmet and a chef at heart, let me take you on a culinary adventure which make the taste buds tingle and will leave an aromatic trail with lasting memories.

This is my version of Chicken Makhani or Butter Chicken:
• Chicken skinned and cut into pieces – 800 grams
• Kashmiri red chili – 1 teaspoon
• Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
• Salt to taste
• Butter – 2 tablespoons

For Marinating:
• Yogurt – 1 cup
• Kashmiri red chili powder – 1 teaspoon
• Salt to taste
• Ginger paste – 2 teaspoons
• Garlic paste – 2 teaspoons
• Lemon juice – 2 tablespoons
• Garam masala powder – 1/2 teaspoon
• Mustard oil – 2 tablespoons

For Makhani Gravy:
• Butter – 3 tablespoons
• Green cardamoms 2-3
• Cloves 4-5
• Black peppercorns 7-8
• Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
• Ginger paste – 1 tablespoon
• Garlic paste – 1 tablespoon
• Green chilies chopped 2
• Tomato puree – 400 grams
• Red chili powder – 1 tablespoon
• Garam masala powder – 1/2 teaspoon
• Salt to taste
• Sugar/honey – 2 tablespoons
• Dried fenugreek leaves (Kasoori Methi) – 1/2 teaspoon
• Fresh cream – 1 cup

For Marinating:
Make deep cuts or incisions across the chicken pieces. According to me, this will help the flavor of different ingredients to soak into the meat. Then add lemon juice, red chili powder, salt and mix well.

Place the yogurt in a muslin cloth and hang it up to remove extra water for 15 to 20 minutes. Then in a bowl, add ginger and garlic paste along with yogurt and mix well, add the chicken pieces. Add a tablespoon of mustard oil and mix again.

Keep the marinated chicken in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours to absorb the flavor.

Preparation of chicken:

After marinating, set your microwave or oven to preheat at 200 degrees. Then skewer the marinated chicken pieces. Cook the chicken pieces in a microwave or oven till it’s almost done and you can see oil on the tray below.

For the Makhani Gravy:

Heat a pan and add butter to melt. Then add green cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns and a cinnamon stick about one inch in length and sauté them well till they start popping. Then add the rest of the ginger garlic paste and green chilies, sauté them again for two minutes.

Now add tomato puree, garam masala, red chili powder, salt and a cup of water. Mix them well and boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for another ten minutes.

Add the chicken pieces to the Makhani Gravy. Bring it to a boil until the chicken pieces are cooked well and have absorbed the flavor of the Makhani gravy.

I advise serving Chicken Makhani hot with Indian roti, naan, paratha or any type of flat-bread. This recipe is guaranteed to make the mouth water and give you the satisfaction of going on a steaming, sizzling and delightful journey to a delicious abode.

Continuing the Culinary Adventures of Binoy Nazareth…