Rich and luxurious, here’s a Butter Chicken recipe with a twist…it’s in meatball form! Start with roasted tandoori spices and your mouth will thank you.
The Origins of Butter Chicken Curry
Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani is one of the most beloved Indian dishes around the world. The origins of this exotically spiced chicken curry can be traced to the early 1950’s in Delhi, India. There, at the Moti Mahal restaurant, a chef created this favourite curry in order to use up leftover Tandoori Chicken. The best cooks are those that can make new and exciting dishes out of leftovers and Butter Chicken is actual proof of this statement.
Components of An Authentic Butter Chicken
For maximum flavour and authenticity, this curry should always begin with delicious Tandoori Chicken. Many recipes skip this step in the name of simplicity but making a this special dish requires time and effort. In addition to the marinated chicken, the sauce should be slightly chunky with a velvety texture. Butter (makhani) plays an important role in this recipe because that’s what gives it the characteristic sightly sweet flavour. Since many curry recipes begin and end with ghee (clarified butter), I am more than happy to add butter.
Butter Chicken vs. Chicken Tikka Masala
When compared, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between these two dishes. The former, with it’s roots firmly in India usually has bone in Tandoori Chicken surrounded in a rich buttery sauce. The latter, sometimes considered Britain’s national dish, is made with boneless chicken baked on a skewer in a Tandoor or clay oven. It is served in a slightly spicier, even gritty tomato gravy added by the Brits who are known to prefer dishes with a bit of sauce. Not surprisingly, it was once proposed that Chicken Tikka Masala be given a Protected Designation of Origin status!
Since both tandoori masala and garam masala vary so much according to regional and personal tastes, it is difficult to pinpoint the differences in each sauce, save for the appearance of butter. Suffice it to say, there is quite a heated debate considering the origins and composition of each dish.
Butter Chicken Inspiration
Though I have made classic Butter Chicken many times, I wanted to re-do a version that I explored way back in 2014. That recipe began with my friend Ginni’s tandoori masala spice blend mixed in with ground turkey and in the sauce. That recipe was filed in the back of my mind until it resurfaced this week. Both my husband and son were very glad it did.