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Home > Mumbai Guide News > Mumbai Food News > Article > Gordon spare the butter chicken Heres how you can get the classic Indian dish right

Gordon, spare the butter chicken! Here's how you can get the classic Indian dish right

Updated on: 04 March,2024 09:10 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Shriram Iyengar |

Multiple Michelin star chef Gordon Ramsay got a dose of his own medicine after adding tomato sauce into his quickfire butter chicken recipe. To restore parity, we invited a legacy restaurateur to tell us how it’s done right

Gordon, spare the butter chicken! Here's how you can get the classic Indian dish right

Gordon Ramsay in his kitchen. Pic Courtesy/Instagram

There are some things that are sacred in every culinary tradition. Chef Gordon Ramsay might just have stepped too far with the desi ones this time. The Michelin-starred celebrity chef is known for his style and diversity, but his latest creation split opinion between the West and the East.

For his latest ‘curry in a hurry’ segment on his social media, Ramsay whipped up a quick-fire butter chicken recipe that took less than 15 minutes to make. While the time was not the major issue, his decision to forgo the use of cashew, and opt for tomato sauce in the marinade led to a furore on social media. ‘Everything was almost fine until he said ‘tomato sauce,’ wrote one commenter in disdain.

Since it was first created in Delhi’s Daryaganj neighbourhood in post-Partition India, the dish has grown into an icon of Indian cuisine. For Jaibhir Kohli, fourth-generation owner of the city’s iconic Punjabi destination, Pritam da Dhaba, butter chicken traces back to six decades of evolution.

The dish, he explains, started out as an entrée with tandoori chicken served in a gravy of curd and butter before its current form. “The advent of the curry culture led to this much-loved item transforming into the main course with an addition of the makhani gravy — creamy, aromatic, and gently spiced. The dish, therefore, was rechristened as murgh makhani,” he remarks.  

Ramsay’s butter chicken

While Kohli admitted that he hasn’t seen Ramsay’s take on the iconic dish, he remarks, “There is no secret recipe, or special masalas and certainly no secret ingredients to good butter chicken. It’s all in the way we treat the produce,” he reminds us.

Easy on spice

A common complaint across the board of Ramsay’s social media forum was his generous use of garam masala and spices. Kohli points out, “Your taste buds won’t thank you for overpowering the dish with too much salt or spice. The key to a juicy, flavourful butter chicken is finesse. Be gentle with the seasoning.” 

Butter chicken at PritamButter chicken at Pritam

High on quality

The other key element is high quality ingredients. “Take your time and use high-quality ingredients — from cashews to spices — when making butter chicken. Avoid any unnecessary additions that might mask the traditional taste,” Kohli remarks. 

Jaibhir Kohli Jaibhir Kohli 

Take your time

While Ramsay’s recipe demanded speed, for the restaurateur at Pritam, slow-cooking is key to the dish. “Do not skip the marinating process,” he says, adding, “That infuses flavour and keeps the chicken tender. No one wants rubbery, dry chicken.”

In conclusion, Kohli says some dishes are best done the old way. “The butter chicken has been worked on for years, and perfected by chefs to induce that delicate smoked flavour from the tandoor to the gravy. It pays homage to our roots.”

Make it right

Butter chicken at IshaaraButter chicken at Ishaara

£ 150 gm chicken tikka, boneless 
£ 40 gm butter
£ 20 gm ghee 
£ 20 gm cream 
£ 5 gm deggi chilli
£ 2 gm kasuri methi 
£ 200 gm tomato gravy 
£ 20 gm cashew nut paste 
£ 15 gm red chilli paste 
£ 10 gm ginger garlic paste 
£ 3 gm jeera powder 
£ Salt to taste

Chef Sanjay Singh, head chef, Ishaara

In a pan heat ghee and oil. Add ginger garlic paste and red chilli paste. Sauté for three minutes. Once it has browned, add cashew nut paste and simmer. Add tomato gravy and shredded chicken, along with jeera powder, salt to taste and cook it to perfection. In the end, add kasuri methi, cream and butter.  
— Chef Sanjay Singh, head chef, Ishaara

The better butter chicken

Shalimar Restaurant
AT Vazir Building, Shalimar Corner, Mohammed Ali Road, Bhendi Bazar. 
CALL 223456632 
COST Rs 380

Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar
AT Patthe Bapu Rao Marg, Grant Road East.
CALL 223875697
COST Rs 274 (half); Rs 430 (full)

Pal’s Fish Corner
AT 8, Kailash Shopping Centre, Pali Hill, Bandra West.
CALL 226004318 
COST Rs 340

AT Gloria Building, Bandstand, Bandra West.
CALL 9619176543
COST Rs 370

Goila Butter Chicken
AT Shop 1, Lalani Residency, Ghodbunder Road, Thane West.
CALL 8588887718
COST Rs 370 onwards

Masala Library by 
Jiggs Kalra
AT Ground floor, G Block, BKC.
CALL 66424142

Mini Punjab
AT Shop No 2-8, Linking Road, Malad West.
CALL 9152914444
COST Rs 380

Golden Punjab
AT Shop 30, Plot 77, Mahavir Centre, Sector 17, Vashi.
CALL 8108129222
COST Rs 360

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