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Origins of Butter Chicken

A brief heavily contested history of this now world renown dish.  It is said that Lala Kundan Lal Gujral first set up in Peshawar in 1920 but came to Delhi in 1947 to set up Moti Mahal. He worked with a local man to produce the first restaurant version of the tandoor and invented tandoori spice mix for tandoori chicken -ground coriander seeds, black pepper and mild red pepper.

Called Murg Makhani in Hindi, Butter Chicken originated in the 1950s at the Moti Mahal restaurant in Old Delhi. Famed for its Tandoori Chicken, the cooks there used to recycle the leftover chicken juices in the marinade trays by adding butter and tomato. This sauce was then tossed around with the tandoor-cooked chicken pieces and presto - Butter Chicken was ready! 

The leftover dish appealed to Delhites and was quickly lapped up by the rest of the world. It’s a very rich dish which involves cream, butter, almonds and cashews. If you google, you will find different variations of the recipe including lighter versions. There are many variations on the composition and spicing of the sauce. Spices may include asafoetida, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, pepper and fenugreek (Punjabi/Hindi: kasuri methi)

 I of-course do my own version as well that can be ordered via take-out and found in the heat and eat meal packs in Village Foods. Try it and let me know what you think!