Murgh Makhani or butter chicken (murgh = chicken, makhani = with butter) is a dish that I have been working on getting just right over the last couple of months. I made it again while down in Florida this week, and it came out quite well. This is a pretty easy to make chicken curry, though it requires a few hours of marination, so you will need to plan ahead! Here is what you will need:
1-2 Pounds Chicken (boneless, skinless thighs)
1-3 Teaspoons Chili Powder
5 Cloves Garlic
1 Finger length piece of Ginger
2 Tablespoons Plain Yogurt
2 Tablespoons Garam Masala
1 Tablespoon Melted butter
1/2 Stick of Butter
1 Tablespoon Cumin Seeds
1 Large Onion
1-3 Hot Peppers (depending on desired heat)
1 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 Tablespoon Coriander Powder
1 Tablespoon Cumin Powder
1-2 Handfuls Raw Cashews (soaked in water for 30 min)
Marination is the process of soaking meat or vegetables in some combination of herbs, spices, liquids, oils, and fats in order to impart extra flavor. Often one of the liquids is an acid like lime juice or wine which helps break down the meat a bit, allowing it to better absorb more of the liquid. For the murgh makhani we use lime juice, yogurt, melted butter, chili powder, salt, garlic, ginger, and garam masala. Combine all the marinade ingredients with the chicken (cut into bite-sized chunks) and allow to chill in the fridge for about 4 hours.
Once the chicken is good to go, melt half a stick of butter in a large sauce pan and fry the chicken until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan, leaving enough of the juices behind for cooking the onions, etc. Once the chicken is removed, toss in the cumin seeds and allow them to pop. Then fry up the onions and hot peppers until the onions are nice and soft. Next, add the powdered spices and fry a bit longer. While all this is going on, take the raw cashews (which you had soaking in some water for about 30 minutes by now) and grind to a paste in the food processor. If you don't have a food processor, you can coarsely chop them on the cutting board instead. Add the cashew paste and tomatoes. Salt the tomatoes and cook, covered until the tomatoes reduce. Once the tomatoes seem satisfied, add a spoon or two of yogurt to make things a bit more creamy.
Carefully pour the gravy mixture into the food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the gravy back into the pan, adding the chicken and a bit of water to thin out the sauce a bit. Allow this to cook on low heat for a few minutes. Top with chopped cilantro and extra butter if desired. Serve over rice or with your favorite Indian bread. This dish has been known to cause people to eat more than is probably appropriate, so watch out!