The Origin and Authenticity of Butter Chicken: Unraveling the True Indian Heritage and Traditional Recipe

Butter chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, is a dish that has won the hearts of food lovers all over the world. Its creamy, buttery gravy with tender pieces of chicken is a gastronomic delight that is hard to resist. But where did this dish originate? Is it truly an Indian dish? If so, which region does it come from and what is the original recipe? Let’s delve into the history and authenticity of butter chicken and unravel the true Indian heritage and traditional recipe of this beloved dish.

The Origin of Butter Chicken

Butter chicken has its roots in the vibrant city of Delhi, the capital of India. It was created by Kundan Lal Gujral, a Punjabi Hindu, who owned the iconic restaurant Moti Mahal Delux in Daryaganj. The dish was born out of necessity and innovation. During the partition of India in 1947, Gujral moved to Delhi and started a small eatery. To avoid wastage, he started cooking leftover chicken in a rich tomato gravy with butter and cream. This innovative dish quickly became popular and thus, butter chicken was born.

Is Butter Chicken a Real Indian Dish?

Yes, butter chicken is a real Indian dish. Despite its global popularity and various adaptations, its origin and soul remain deeply rooted in Indian cuisine. The dish is a perfect example of the rich culinary traditions of India, showcasing the country’s love for aromatic spices and creamy gravies.

The Traditional Recipe

The traditional recipe of butter chicken involves marinating chicken pieces in a mixture of yogurt and spices, and then grilling them until they are partially cooked. The partially cooked chicken is then added to a creamy tomato-based gravy that is seasoned with various spices and simmered until the chicken is fully cooked. The dish is finished with a dollop of cream or butter, giving it its characteristic richness.

  • Ingredients: Chicken, yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, chili powder, butter, onion, garlic, ginger, tomato puree, cream, kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), and salt.
  • Method: The chicken is marinated in a mixture of yogurt, lemon juice, and spices, and then grilled. The gravy is made by sautéing onions, garlic, and ginger in butter, adding tomato puree and spices, and simmering until it thickens. The grilled chicken is added to the gravy and cooked until tender. The dish is finished with cream or butter and garnished with kasuri methi.

In conclusion, butter chicken is a dish that truly represents the rich culinary heritage of India. Its origin story is a testament to the innovation and resourcefulness of Indian chefs. Despite its global popularity, the traditional recipe remains a cherished part of India’s gastronomic legacy.