Murgh Makhani – Butter Chicken
Butter Chicken, known as Murgh Makhani in Indian cuisine, is a dish that has captured the hearts and palates of food enthusiasts worldwide. This iconic dish boasts a rich history, tantalizing flavors, and a perfect blend of spices that create an explosion of taste. In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into the history of Murgh Makhani, explore its popularity, highlight its common ingredients, shed light on its nutritional value, and offer creative serving ideas.
The History of Murgh Makhani
Murgh Makhani traces its roots back to the vibrant city of Delhi, India, in the mid-20th century. It was believed to have been created by the legendary chef Kundan Lal Gujral. The story goes that Kundan Lal Gujral, who owned a popular restaurant called Moti Mahal, wanted to breathe new life into dry leftover tandoori chicken. To transform it into a succulent dish, he simmered the chicken in a velvety tomato-based sauce enriched with butter and cream. The result was a dish so delectable that it quickly gained popularity and became an instant hit among locals and visitors alike.
The Popularity of Murgh Makhani
Murgh Makhani’s popularity stems from its exceptional flavors and mouthwatering taste. The combination of aromatic spices, tender chicken, creamy tomato sauce, and the indulgent use of butter and cream creates a symphony of flavors that is hard to resist. It has transcended cultural boundaries and has become a beloved dish in Indian restaurants worldwide. The dish’s versatility also contributes to its popularity, as it can be adjusted to suit different taste preferences, from mild to fiery hot.
Common Ingredients in Murgh Makhani
Murgh Makhani typically includes a variety of spices and ingredients that contribute to its unique flavor profile. Some common ingredients found in this recipe are:
- Chicken Thighs: Boneless chicken thighs are often used for their tender and juicy texture.
- Yogurt: Full-fat Greek yogurt serves as a base for the marinade, providing a tangy and creamy element.
- Spices: Ground turmeric, cumin, garam masala, and cumin seeds add depth and complexity to the dish.
- Tomato Sauce: Fresh tomatoes and tomato paste create the luscious, tangy base of the sauce.
- Butter and Cream: These indulgent ingredients give Murgh Makhani its signature richness and smoothness.
- Aromatics: Garlic, ginger, onions, and green chilies infuse the dish with aromatic notes.
- Almonds and Cilantro: Chopped almonds add a delightful crunch, while fresh cilantro leaves provide a refreshing herbal touch.
MURGH MAKHANI – BUTTER CHICKEN
- 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt Full Fat
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 3 pounds chicken thighs without skin
- 1/4 pound unsalted butter
- 4 teaspoons canola oil
- 2 each medium yellow onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon each cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoon medium tomatoes — diced
- 2 tablespoon each Anahiem chiles — seeded and diced
- kosher salt — to taste
- 2/3 cup chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons almonds — chopped
- 1/2 bunch cilantro
- In a large bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, and ground cumin. Add the boneless chicken thighs and coat them evenly with the marinade. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for up to a day.
- In a large pan over medium heat, melt the unsalted butter with canola oil until it starts to foam. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they become translucent. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and cumin seeds, and continue cooking until the onions begin to brown.
- Add the cinnamon stick, diced tomatoes, Anaheim chiles, and salt to the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes until the chiles become soft.
- Add the marinated chicken along with the marinade to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, then pour in the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow it to cook uncovered for approximately 30 minutes.
- Stir in the heavy whipping cream and tomato paste. Simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
- Add the chopped almonds and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.
- Serve the delicious Murg Makhani with steamed rice or naan bread for a complete and satisfying meal.
Nutritional Value of Murgh Makhani
While Murgh Makhani is undoubtedly a delicious and indulgent dish, it’s important to consider its nutritional value. The specific nutritional content may vary depending on the recipe and serving size, but generally, it offers several health benefits:
- Protein: Chicken thighs are a good source of lean protein, which supports muscle growth and repair.
- Healthy Fats: Despite the use of butter and cream, Murgh Makhani contains healthy fats that provide satiety and aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
- Antioxidants: The spices used, such as turmeric and cumin, contain beneficial antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Vitamins and Minerals: The dish incorporates various ingredients rich in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C from tomatoes and vitamin E from almonds.
Serving Ideas and Culinary Creativity
Murgh Makhani can be enjoyed in various ways, making it a versatile and exciting dish to experiment with. Here are some serving ideas to explore:
- Classic Pairing: Serve Murgh Makhani with fragrant basmati rice or freshly baked naan bread to soak up the luscious sauce.
- Healthy Twist: Accompany the dish with a side of steamed vegetables or a crisp salad to add freshness and nutritional balance to the meal.
- Fusion Fare: Get creative and incorporate Murgh Makhani into other dishes like tacos, wraps, or pizza for a unique and flavorful twist.
- Vegetarian Adaptation: Replace the chicken with paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or tofu for a vegetarian version that still captures the essence of the dish.
Murgh Makhani, or Butter Chicken, is an exceptional culinary creation that has captivated taste buds worldwide. Its rich history, tantalizing flavors, and versatility make it a beloved dish that continues to be celebrated. While indulging in this delicious delight, it’s important to appreciate the balance of flavors and the nutritional benefits it offers. Whether enjoyed traditionally or with a creative twist, Murgh Makhani remains a timeless and irresistible culinary masterpiece. Embrace its allure and savor the magic of this iconic dish.
Note: Remember to consult your healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized advice regarding your dietary needs and any specific health concerns.