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World Supper Adventure

Inviting myself to dinner, around the world, to bring recipes and tales of great hospitality home to you.

So here we go! My first home cooked meal to share and, let me tell you, it’s a doozy. Butter Chicken!, or Murgh Makhani, is so very very delicious and thanks to my enthusiastic host in Mumbai,  Shivam and his cook Ravi, I’ve learned to prepare it like an expert and and so will you!  Geez Louise, I’m kind of upset that I’m not eating it right this second, so don’t skip this one, it’s a must.  No excuses that it’s summer and hot out!  The Indians don’t get a break from the heat and it doesn’t stop them.

Unfortunately, this time, I didn’t get to accompany my host on his market trip, which I was bummed about.   He snuck off while I was “napping” (like I really do that). But next time, hopefully, I won’t be left behind.

Butter Chicken, where to begin? The origins of Butter Chicken can be traced back to Delhi, during the period of Mughal Empire. The most common story of origin goes like this: An Englishman in Delhi complained to his Indian cook that his Tandoori chicken was too dry so, instead of starting all over, he made a tomato gravy and dunked the Englishman’s Tandoori chicken in it.  Tada!  Once again we have an amazing chicken dish born of complaint…just like the legend of Buffalo wings.

Butter Chicken is among the best known Indian foods all over the world, so it’s certainly about time we were all able to make it at home. And don’t worry, I do include a vegetarian option somewhere in this post….

Butter Chicken (or Murgh Makhani)


Now, since the story is that Butter Chicken started with Tandoori chicken, you can certainly start with that, but Shivam started by marinating raw chicken. Get a whole chicken chopped into parts and give it a little massage with 1/2 cup yogurt and 3 TB chicken masala*. Shivam had a box of prepared masala, but you can make your own with equal parts powdered clove, cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom. Also salt to taste. VEGETARIANS!!! Cube 2 pounds of paneer* and set aside.

While the chicken is marinating, get the gravy started. First sautee 7 cardamom pods, 1 blade mace, 1 bay leaf, and 2 TB chopped garlic in 5 TB ghee* and 2 TB olive oil. I’ve also seen a lot of recipes that just use whole butter, so that seems fine if you’d like to just do that, but I’m sticking to my host’s recipe. When that’s been cooking for 2 minutes add 3 cups chopped and seeded tomato (the most ripe and beautiful that you can find).

Let the tomatoes sit and get soft while you chop finely 1 TB ginger, and 3 or 4 seeded and deveined green chilies. Sautee these in a separate pan with 1 TB ghee for 5 minutes Add to the tomatoes and let everything sautee for about 10 more minutes and stir every once in a while so the bottom doesn’t burn.

When your tomatoes are thoroughly mushy, take your pan off the heat and let your mixture cool for about 10 minutes so it doesn’t explode in the blender and give you an embarrassing scar…it won’t even be one you could brag about since you weren’t rescuing a baby or anything, so it’s not worth it. Anywho, once it’s cooled for 10 minutes blend or process very well until nice and smooth.

Add 3 TB more ghee to your pan (it’s called butter chicken for a reason, folks) and add 2 TB cashew paste. It takes about 15 nuts to make this amount of cashew paste, which are easy to pulverize in a mortar and pestle, but if you’re using a food processor it might be difficult with only this much, so you might as well make more than that… you’ll need it for your inevitable Butter Chicken addiction anyhow. Cook for about 2 minutes, don’t let the paste burn, and add back the puree through a strainer. When you strain you just want to get out the unpalatable bits of whole spices. You don’t want to lose too much gravy, so push it through with a rubber spatula so you have only the spice chunks and tomato skin left behind.

Add 2 TB Kashmiri (or the best you can find) chili powder, salt to taste, and 1 TB turmeric.  Let this sit and cook again over low heat for another 10 minutes. You can tell it’s ready when the oil separates and floats to the top, says Shivam.

Now you can add your marinated or tandoori chicken, cover and simmer over medium heat (again, stirring along the way) and cook until tender.  This should be about 20 minutes for the raw chicken and 7 for the tandoori. Below is a recipe for chapatis*, which you can prepare while you’re waiting.

VEGETARIANS!!! Let your gravy cook for about 20 minutes before adding the paneer since it doesn’t need to cook, just heat up.  Your paneer shouldn’t need to be in the pan for more than 5 minutes before it’s heated through.

2 minutes before your dish is ready to take off the heat add 1/2 cup heavy cream and 2 TB honey. Once you’re serving, garnish with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro (coriander).  Now you just need to make your bread and you’re ready!


In a large bowl stir together (with your hand) 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 1 ts salt. Slowly add, while mixing, 2 TB olive oil, and about 3/4 cups warm water. You’ll have to be your own judge with the water, you want it to end up elastic, but not sticky. Bread is always a little tricky until you’ve made a particular recipe bunch of times, so if you need to add more flour, so be it.

Knead your dough on a floured surface until smooth and divide into 10 equal portions. Roll these portions into balls and let rest for a few minutes.


Heat a skillet over medium heat and once it’s hot grease lightly with ghee. Roll out each ball of dough on a floured surface until very thin and, once your pan starts smoking, toss it in. Each side should only need about 30 seconds, but you do want brown, slightly burnt bubbles. Repeat with the rest of your balls until you’re finished.

Good luck with your new addiction, y’all!


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