Ask any non-vegetarian and they would tell you that butter chicken tastes like heaven. The softness of the marinated chicken, cooked in a gravy of masalas mixed with butter, can be best understood by those who taste it.
Anyone who lives in north India, especially in and around Delhi, must have come across butter chicken on restaurant menus. While it is commonly found in many Indian cities, the taste and fame this dish has garnered over the decades turned butter chicken into a global success.
Here’s more about the delicious butter chicken
A history that’s not too old
Unlike many other scrumptious meat-based dishes such as biryani, butter chicken has neither a medieval connection nor a link to cultures outside of the Indian sub-continent.
According to reports, butter chicken was created by Kundan Lal Gujral who founded Moti Mahal restaurant in the 1950s in New Delhi.
A culinary master, Gujral helped invent tandoori chicken while working at a sweet-shop named Mukhey da Dhaba of Mokha Singh in Peshawar where he lived before partition. Gujral bought the shop from Singh after the latter’s health deteriorated and renamed it Moti Mahal.
Later on, when partition forced him to move to India, Gujral started his business in the Indian capital.
It is not clear whether Gujral came up with the idea of butter chicken while he was in Peshawar, but the idea was entirely his.
Butter chicken was born when Gujral noticed that tandoori chicken hanging on the skewers dries out when left unsold. So, he prepared a curry with butter, cream, spices and tomatoes and then cooked tandoori chicken pieces in it. And thus was born butter chicken.
Saransh Goila and his signature butter chicken
Anyone who loves chicken would want to make a delicious plate of this dish at home. But what would be the best recipe for it?
The answer is a name — chef Saransh Goila.
Goila (pictured, R) is a young chef whose career took off when he won Food Food Maha Challenge, a televised cooking competition in 2011.
He was already making a name for himself with a specific recipe of butter chicken, which became so famous that it came to be called “Goila butter chicken” and became a trending hashtag on Twitter.
The dish’s popularity was so high that Goila borrowed it as the brand name of his cloud kitchen business. And, so, Goila Butter Chicken began operations in 2016 and now has multiple outlets in India and abroad.
But the big boost came in 2018 when he was invited as a guest on MasterChef Australia where the show’s judge, George Calombaris, called his recipe “the best butter chicken in the world”.
In fact, contestants of the show were challenged to recreate Goila’s signature dish.
Goila follows the traditional butter chicken recipe, helping restore the dish’s original taste and distinguish it from the countless hacks it has undergone to its detriment over the years.
How to make delicious Goila butter chicken at home?
Anyone wanting to make Goila’s dish at home is in luck because Saransh Goila shared the recipe, complete with the steps and ingredients, with Australian network 10 Play.
First, the ingredients:
½ cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves, 2 tbsp cumin seeds, 1 ½ tsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp green cardamom pods, 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns, 2 tsp whole cloves, 2 dried red chillies, pinch freshly grated nutmeg, ½ tsp ground mace, 2 tsp kasoori methi (fenugreek leaves), salt to taste
4 chicken Marylands, 50g pre-hung Greek yoghurt, 1 ½ tsp mustard oil, 25g ginger and garlic paste, 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli paste, pinch ground cardamom, ¼ tsp Garam Masala, ½ tsp salt
Butter Chicken Sauce Base
1 cinnamon stick, 1 bay leaf, 4 whole cloves, 1 piece mace, 1 black cardamom pod, 4 green cardamom pods, 1kg Roma tomatoes roughly chopped, 250g peeled onion roughly chopped, 50g peeled garlic roughly chopped, 60g cashew nuts, 1 tsp honey, 150ml water, 150ml milk, 3 tsp ground coriander, 1 ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder, 2 tbsp kasoori methi (fenugreek leaves), salt to taste, 70g butter, 2 tbsp thickened cream
70g peeled onion finely chopped, 20g peeled garlic finely chopped, 40g butter, 1 ½ tsp vegetable oil, ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
50g butter, 1 large piece pre-lit coal (from hibachi grill), Roasted Kasoori Methi, 4 tbsp kasoori methi (fenugreek leaves)
Butter Roomali Roti
1 kg plain flour plus more for dusting, 2 tbsp salt, 1 egg, 60g banana, 2 tsp caster sugar, 350ml water, 350ml milk, 2 ½ tbsp vegetable oil, 80g butter
250g white vinegar, 100ml water, 8 whole cloves, 3 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 dried bay leaves, 12-15 black peppercorns, 1 beetroot (approx 150g) peeled and roughly chopped, 220g caster sugar, 100g small shallots peeled and quartered, salt to season
Coriander Mint Chutney
2 bunches coriander — stalk cut off halfway, 1 bunch mint — stalk cut off halfway, 80g shelled roasted peanuts, 2 green chillies — stalks removed, 2.5 cm piece ginger peeled, 2 cloves garlic peeled, 3/4 tsp salt, 25g lemon juice, 4 tbsp water
Reserved Roasted Kasoori Methi, Thickened cream for drizzling
And now, the steps:
1. Preheat charcoal grill.
2. Place all spices into a dry frypan over medium heat and toast until fragrant to prepare the Garam Masala. Once done, remove from the pan, transfer it to a tray and let it cool slightly.
3. Transfer to a spice grinder. Grind to a fine powder, then set aside until needed.
4. Now, start with the Tandoori Chicken. Cut the thighs at the joint to remove from the leg. Remove the skin and de-bone the thighs, then score each thigh with a sharp knife. Place the chicken thighs and all remaining ingredients into a bowl and mix well to combine, ensuring that the chicken is completely coated and the marinade has been pushed into the score lines on the meat. Cover and set aside in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
5. For the Butter Chicken Sauce Base, place the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cloves, mace and black and green cardamom pods into a square of muslin cloth and tie up to form a parcel.
6. Place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, cashew nuts, honey, water, milk, ground coriander, Kashmiri chilli powder, kasoori methi, good pinch of salt, butter and the muslin spice bag into a pressure cooker. Secure the lid, turn on to high pressure and pressure cook for 25 minutes.
7. Once the pressure cooker has released pressure, open the lid and remove the muslin cloth bag. Remove the inner pressure cooker bowl and place onto the bench. Use a stick blender to purée the sauce until completely smooth. Set aside on the bench until needed.
8. For the Tadka, heat the butter and oil in a large pot. Add onions and sauté until just golden. Once the onions are golden, add the garlic and sauté until just golden. Add the Kashmiri powder and cook for 1 minute, then remove pot from the heat and set aside until the butter chicken sauce base is ready.
9. Once the butter chicken sauce base has been puréed, place the pot of Tadka back on the heat and heat up gently, being careful not to colour the onions any further. Once Tadka is hot, pour in the reserved, puréed butter chicken sauce base, ensuring it sizzles, and stir to combine. Let the sauce simmer for 10-12 minutes to allow the colour will change to a deep orange. Remove the butter chicken sauce from the heat and set aside until needed.
10. For the Coal Butter, place the butter in a small metal bowl. Use tongs to take a large piece of hot coal from the hibachi box and place into the bowl on top of the butter. Sit the bowl onto the butter chicken sauce and seal the pot with aluminium foil allowing the pot to fill with smoke. Set the covered pot aside to smoke for 7 minutes. Uncover, then remove the bowl of charcoal butter and strain the Coal Butter into a clean bowl.
11. Add 3 teaspoons of the strained Coal Butter into the butter chicken sauce. Add the cream and stir to combine. Season to taste, then set aside until needed.
12. For the Roasted Kasoori Methi, place the kasoori methi in a frypan and cook until fragrant and slightly smokey. Remove from the heat and reserve half in a bowl for later use. Crush the remaining half between your palms into a bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of the crushed leaves to the finished butter chicken sauce, then adjust to taste with extra crushed kasoori menthi if required.
13. To cook the Tandoori Chicken, thread the marinated chicken thighs onto 2 skewers. Place chicken skewers onto the hot grill. Use tongs to turn the skewers occasionally until slightly charred and cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the grill and place onto a clean chopping board. Remove the chicken from the skewers and shred into small pieces, place in a small bowl and set aside until needed.
14. Measure out 300g of the butter chicken sauce and place into a small pot over low heat. Add 100g of the shredded tandoori chicken to the butter chicken sauce and simmer on the heat for 2-3 minutes until warm. Remove from the heat. Adjust seasoning to taste and set aside, keeping warm, until needed. Reserve remaining shredded chicken for later use.
15. For the Butter Roomali Roti, mix the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook.
16. Place the egg, banana, caster sugar, water and milk together in a blender and blend until smooth. Slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl, until the mixture comes together. Continue to mix the dough for 3-4 minutes until soft and elastic.
17. Add oil and mix for a further 2 minutes. Cover with cling film and set aside to rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, for the Pickled Onions, combine vinegar and water in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Add all of the spices and the beetroot, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.
18. Strain the pickling liquid into a clean saucepan. Add the caster sugar and salt, place back over high heat and bring to the boil, ensuring sugar and salt have dissolved. Add shallots then turn off heat and set aside to pickle for at least 30 minutes, turning the shallots every 10 minutes to ensure that they are evenly pickled.
19. For the Coriander Mint Chutney, combine all ingredients in a blender and blitz, using the paddle to help the blending process, until a thick chutney is achieved. Transfer to a bowl, adjust seasoning to taste, cover with cling film and set aside until needed.
20. To cook the Butter Roomali Roti, melt butter in a heatproof bowl in the microwave Set the melted butter aside, along with a pastry brush, until needed.
21. Heat a wok over high heat. Once hot, carefully turn the wok upside down over the gas flame.
22. Generously flour a clean work surface. Divide the dough into 90g portions and place onto the floured bench. Knead the dough in a little extra flour until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Roll out as thinly and evenly as possible so that the dough is so thin it is almost transparent, dust off all excess flour. If small holes appear, patch up by squeezing torn edges together. Flip between hands to stretch the dough out thinly.
23. Drape the thin piece of dough over the dome of the upturned wok, being careful not to overlap any dough onto itself. Working quickly and carefully, flip the dough every 15 seconds so that it just cooks, and very small light brown spots appear. Fold the bread into thirds to create a long rectangle, then fold in thirds again to create a square and continue to flip the bread from side to side on the wok to heat through.
24. Once cooked, remove roti squares from the wok, unfold and brush with the melted butter. Fold the roti up neatly again and set aside on a clean surface, keeping warm, until needed.
And then, the way to serve:
Take a serving bowl and fill it with the shredded chicken and sauce mixture. Then place pieces of the reserved shredded chicken on top of the sauce. Add just a little bit of cream over it and then sprinkle reserved Roasted Kasoori Methi. The butter chicken is ready for serving.
Add a scoop of the Coriander Mint Chutney onto the serving board alongside a scoop of Pickled Onions. Add a little of the pickling liquid over the top of the shallots.
On the side of the serving board, stack two folded roti and then place the board on the dining table.
Hero and Featured images: Goila Butter Chicken