City Food – Butter Chicken, Moti Mahal Restaurant
The made-in-Delhi dish.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
If Delhiites are sometimes called fat, aggressive and lascivious, then butter chicken must share a part of the blame. It originated in the 1950s at the Moti Mahal restaurant in Daryaganj, a neighborhood skirting the Walled City. Famed for their tandoori chicken, the cooks there used to recycle the leftover chicken juices in the marinade trays by adding butter and tomato. Once this sauce was tossed around with tandoor-cooked chicken pieces, and butter chicken was born. The dish appealed to Delhiites and was quickly lapped up by the rest of the country, and the world.
Today, eating butter chicken in Moti Mahal is like reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The play’s dialogues have lent so many popular phrases to the English language that if you read Hamlet for the first time, you feel you have read it before. In the same way having Moti Mahal’s butter chicken for the first time in your life may give rise to the déjà vu feeling—‘Have I tasted it before?’
The dish has spread from Daryaganj’s landmark restaurant to every self-respecting non-vegetarian eatery in Delhi, over to the highway dhabas of north India. Best had with tandoori roti or naan, butter chicken is extremely creamy, with a thick, red tomato gravy. It tastes slightly sweet and the sauce percolates so deeply into the chicken pieces that they become juicy and soft, instantly melting in your mouth. The dish is so extravagantly buttery, that, to a calorie-conscious diner, it may seem as gross as the showiness of nouveau riche Delhiites. A gourmand, however, does not care. The butter chicken’s addictive quality makes it difficult for him to stop before licking all the gravy off the plate.
Where Moti Mahal, 3703, Netaji Subhash Marg, Daryaganj Phone 23273011, 23273661
Cooking butter chicken in Moti Mahal
Stick the bird down into the tandoor
Now, let it roast
Now, cut it into pieces
Now, to the frying pan
Now, soused it in the tomato-based gravy
Now, keep stirring
Now, to the serving dish
i had no clue that so much butter goes in to making this. im staying far from it now!
There used to be some restaurants in South Delhi that sold a similar sounding dish called “Bater Chicken” and take advantage of gullible non-residents 🙂
It’s been quite some time since you wrote on the n-veg stuff. I’ve been to the Moti Mahal Deluxe in DT City Center, Gurgaon and they too have decent Butter Chicken. I liked their Kadai Chicken too. I don’t know if the 2 rests are related. Neat stuff though! Wud like to check out the Darya side one.
I wonder what the smokers will tell us about the butter. 😀
wow! the pics are veryyy appetizing ! i will rush to daryaganj for a dish of butter chicken! I LOVE BUTTER CHICKEN!!!
No offences to others, its just that my stomach is not a graveyard for the carcases of ruthlessly butchered innocent animals.
I wonder how the pretenders(social activists, people pretending to fight for justice, egalitarianism, animal lovers, pet owners who boast of treating their pets like their own child, et al) are responsible for the hundrededs of thousands of deaths over their life time e.g. an average carnivorous homospien downs few hundred thousand fertilized animal embryos (eggs), equivalent of over four grown up cows, over few hundred goats and pigs, several thousand birds. Also it takes four to seven times more energy to produce one kilo of meat as compared to one kilo of vegetarian food, thus raping the mother earth by wider carbon footprint and contributing to global warming. Ecology, environment, animal suffering, additional transfer of animal born diseases to human due to meat consumption, world hunger (same resources can produce several times more vegetarian food), and so on as the list is endless. Boooooooooooohooooooooo.
When tucking into an animal next time think about how would you feel if your embryo or offprings on the food plate of someone else…………
Want to make a difference, BE A HUMAN, STOP BEING CARNIVOROUS ANIMAL, start here >>>>>>> http://www.godsdirectcontact.org/eng/booklet/vegetarian.html.
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