Jan 29, 2010

Murgh Makhani

Our friend, Amar, is coming to visit in a few weeks. He's from India, has lived in Texas, Japan, Morocco and now in Maryland. Before he left Austin for Japan, he shared with me his recipe for murgh makhani — "buttered chicken." It is one of my favorite Indian dishes. (I've also seen it spelled "mahkni" or "mahkane.")

Chicken is marinated in yogurt, ginger, chili, garlic and spices, and then finished with a tomato cream sauce. It is an exotic, velvety delicacy. I've been hooked since the first time I tasted it. We served it over basmati rice with roasted cauliflower — which offers a nice contast in texture. This same sauce could be made vegetarian by omitting the chicken and cooking it with veggies or tofu instead.

Here's hoping I can talk Amar into sharing some more of his recipes when he visits.

This is a rich sauce. I used 2% Greek yogurt this time. I've made it with cream, half and half, fat free half and half and even whole milk. Of course, the more fat you use, the more velvety it is. Leave the jalapeno seeds in if you want a very spicy version. Note that the chicken needs to marinate for at least two hours or overnight. Also, the flavors of this dish really develop over time. I noticed that the leftovers we had for dinner the second night were even more flavorful than the first time. So you could make it ahead and then add the cream and butter when you reheat it just before serving.

Murgh Mahkani

one pound boneless chicken tenders
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon salt
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, minced
2 teaspoons Garam Masala
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 whole cloves
2 black peppercorns
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
8 ounces cream
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
cooked basmati rice

Stir together yogurt, ginger, salt, garlic, jalapeno and Garam Masala.

Place the chicken in a zip bag or large lidded container. Add yogurt mixture and stir or rub together to cover chicken completely. Marinate in the fridge for at least two hours or up to overnight.

In a large saucepan, cook the onion, cloves, and peppercorns until onions are translucent. Add the chicken, tomatoes, cayenne and honey and stir together. Simmer together until all ingredients are heated through and flavors come together.

At this point, you could let it cool, refrigerate it and reheat it the next day. The flavors will be more intense. To serve, add the cream and butter and stir together. Bring up to a simmer and let butter melt.

Serve over basmati rice and sprinkle with cilantro.

Serves 4.

Adapted from Amar Shekdar.

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