Our favorite Indian restaurant in DC is Taj of India in Georgetown. Their murg makhani (chicken in a tomato cream sauce) is absolutely to die for. It is rich and smokey, and I can’t get enough of the sauce. David orders it every time we eat there, and he is kind enough to let me spoon some of the sauce over whatever I order. And if I’m really lucky, he will let me wipe his dish clean with some toasty naan. I have wanted to make murg makhani at home for a long time, but as soon as David found out that it’s also known as “butter chicken,” he wouldn’t have it. He has a thing against butter. And cream. Watching both of those ingredients being added to his beloved dish would have been too much for him to handle. So instead, I cooked it as a “surprise” when he was working hard in the library.
The surprise was a success, and I highly recommend making this chicken for your next dinner. And then eat it again for lunch (you’d be a fool not to make enough for leftovers). To make this chicken, cut 3 chicken breasts (serves 3-4 people) into bite-sized chunks. Put the chicken pieces into a bowl and add 4 or 5 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika (use regular paprika if you must, but smoked adds the great flavor Taj manages to achieve), 1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin, 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala, and the juice from 1 lime. Mix it all together and let the chicken sit while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a pot. Add 1 diced onion and cook it until it softens.
Then, add your marinating chicken to the pot and stir it around for about 10 minutes or until the chicken loses its pink color on the outside. Once that happens, pour 1 can (14.5 ounces) of tomato sauce and 1 can of diced tomatoes into the pot, and stir it around. Bring the sauce to a simmer, put a lid on the pot, and let it cook for 30 minutes.
Once the 30 minutes are up, turn the heat off and pour 1/3 of a pint of heavy cream into the chicken and tomatoes. The recipe I used to guide this chicken said to use a whole pint of cream, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. You’re welcome, David. It looked and tasted just fine with less.
Add a whole bunch of chopped cilantro to your chicken, and stir it all around. I LOVE cilantro! If you don’t, you can replace it with parsley…how sad.
Spoon your murg makhani over some rice and sprinkle more cilantro over the top. It’s also great to serve some toasted naan with this meal. We really enjoyed it, and I hope you do too!
Adapted from lillieknits’ “Butter Chicken” on Tasty Kitchen.