The Flavourful History of Butter Chicken
Thanks to the melding of cultures here in New Zealand, butter chicken from India has become an absolute favourite. It seems the whole world over, everyone is smitten with this dish that roots to Delhi back in the 1950s.
The story of the birth of butter chicken begins with Kundan Lal Gurjal, a restaurant owner in Delhi, India. The restaurant, called Moti Mahal, was very successful, particularly with tandoori dishes. In the restaurant business, one of the biggest mistakes to be made is allowing food to go to waste. The cooks at Moti Mahal would use leftover juices from the marinades along with butter and tomatoes. They’d then cook leftover tandoori chicken in it. What was simply a way to prepare leftovers and eliminate the wasting of food became the butter chicken sensation that we know it as today. The restaurant went on to enjoy much acclaim and butter chicken spread throughout the land like a wild fire.
In case you’ve never had butter chicken before, the dish gets its unique flavour from a diverse spice blend that has been tweaked to perfection since its accidental discovery. If you are in Auckland and you want to try out the most authentically prepared butter chicken outside of Delhi, you should visit Jimmy Cooks Restaurant at Copthorne Hotel Auckland City, where it is renowned for being a spot-on creation of a true classic.
In fact, when the chef at Jimmy Cooks was asked in a recent interview about what dish is his favourite from the menu, he named Butter Chicken. “The dish that’s closest to my heart has to be authentic Butter Chicken – not the way it is normally served in New Zealand. Traditionally, a chef would use ingredients like cashews and melon seeds, and I feel that the version served here is missing much of its original flavour because it does not include these ingredients,” he explained.
When making butter chicken, it is typically marinated over the course of several hours in a mixture of cream and spices. After marinating, it is often cooked in a tandoor oven, but sometimes you’ll find it grilled, roasted or even pan fried. It is served with a rich and mild curry sauce that has a butter and cream base. Jimmy Cooks authentic recipe and cooking method is a closely guarded secret, one that you should get a taste of on your next evening out in Auckland.
Our chef, Pratyaksh “Paul” Verma at Jimmy Cooks invites you to experience his authentic butter chicken recipe: “If you want authentic butter chicken made the way it was meant to be, it would be my pleasure to prepare it for you.”