Butter Chicken gets even better

Anjali Jhangiani
Thursday, 8 June 2017

There’s butter and there’s chicken, what’s not to like? The gravy is neither too spicy and nor too sweet, the chicken pieces are neither too big and nor too shredded, everything about Butter Chicken is just right, so right that Goldilocks would lap it right up!

Restaurants in the city are taking Butter Chicken lovers’ cravings to another level by coming up with interesting versions of the traditional Punjabi recipe

There’s butter and there’s chicken, what’s not to like? The gravy is neither too spicy and nor too sweet, the chicken pieces are neither too big and nor too shredded, everything about Butter Chicken is just right, so right that Goldilocks would lap it right up!
But even when Butter Chicken lovers would swear that one can never get tired of the traditional Punjabi main course dish, restaurants in the city have given the recipe a twist of their own and introduced various innovative preparations. Here’s a look at some of the versions that you can try out:

Butter Chicken Pizza
We have developed a knack for putting the things we love on a Pizza, so why not use Butter Chicken as a topping too? Dheeren Jagwani, owner of Cafe Mestizo in Baner, narrates how his partner in business, who is the head chef at the restaurant, makes a ‘wicked’ Butter Chicken. And since the joint was dishing out Pizzas, the best thing to do so was put the Butter Chicken on a Pizza. The idea worked and how! “The Butter Chicken Pizza has become a favourite among our regulars. Whoever has eaten the Pizza has fallen in love and now our cafe is recognised by this item,””says Jagwani, adding, “I feel that Butter Chicken is the first chicken-based dish every person tries out and falls in love with. No matter how much Indians experiment with their palate, they will come back to their roots — to the old-fashioned Butter Chicken. We have tried to keep the recipe basic which tingles the feeling of childhood memory every non-vegetarian person can relate to. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, suitable for all ages.”

Butter Chicken Samosa
When the ‘food people’ were updating their menu at High Spirits in October last year, they wanted to do away with their Indian main courses because it didn’t fit into the category of ‘bar food’. But they did make a mean Butter Chicken. Somesh Narwani, the F&B manager at the joint solved the dilemma with one brilliant idea — Butter Chicken Samosas, which will let you curb your craving of Butter Chicken, without getting too messy.

How did they make this gravy dish fit for a stuffing? “It is made slightly drier than the regular Butter Chicken as we can’t have gravy running from the samosa when you bite into it. The chicken is roasted and then shredded. We serve it with some extra Makhani gravy on the side for those who like it with more gravy,” says Narwani, who believes that Butter Chicken is what comes to the mind of a hungry Indian when they visit a restaurant and don’t want to experiment too much. These samosas are a favourite even among the foreigners who are regular at this joint. Says Narwani, “As for our foreigner guests — most of the famous Indian food they have heard of is vegetarian or is very spicy, Butter chicken is that one thing that is meaty, very flavourful, not very spicy and yet Indian. It’s the perfect balance for them.”

Explaining how much the regulars love this innovation, Narwani says, ““One time I walked up to a customer who had ordered the samosas and asked him whether he liked them. He told me that he’s already had 14 and a half of them that day. They like that the stuffing actually tastes of Butter Chicken.”

Butter Chicken Penne
Listing it under the ‘Risotto’ section in their menu, Italy Via Punjab, a six-month old restaurant at NIBM has been serving Butter Chicken Khichdi ever since its launch. They also offer a Butter Chicken Penne preparation. Ninad Joshi, the owner of the eatery, tells us, “The food philosophy of the restaurant is to combine elements of Punjabi and Italian cuisine. Looking at it closely, you will find many similarities between the Indian and Italian culture. In both cultures, people like to dine in a group with family or friends, both eat with hands and so on. We wanted to give Indian food an Italian twist and vice-versa.”

And Butter Chicken Khichdi or Penne is the perfect way to represent the restaurant. While Butter Chicken is synonymous with Punjabi food, making it as a risotto or a pasta sauce, brings the Italian-ness to the dish. “We temper the risotto with oregano, celery, basil and other Italian herbs. We also use white wine and garnish it with parmesan. The mildness of the flavour of Butter Chicken complements the sentiments of Italian Cuisine. The dish has a tomato base, which is very common with Italian sauces,” ”says Joshi.

Butter Chicken Fondue
Seeing the way customers love the Butter Chicken served at restaurants, Vrushabh Patil, Raasta Cafe, Baner played around with the concept of naan-gravy combination and decided to change their serving style. Thus, the regular Butter Chicken and Garlic Naan got a ‘firangi’ makeover and turned into Chicken Masala Fondue. “We believe in innovation, so the concept of a Chicken Masala Fondue comes from pleasing the Indian palate with the global twist,””says Patil.

The dish includes a generous portion of Butter Chicken in a communal pot over a heating device served along with bite-sized pieces of Garlic Naan and a side of sautéed vegetables.

“It’s a newly launched dish and has been on the menu for the last few months. Usually customers order this dish because they are curious about it. When the order arrives and they have tasted it, they love it, and are happy to have tried out something new,”” says Patil, adding that the gravy can be customised in terms of texture and taste, according to the preference of the customer and the chef’s expertise.

Since Butter Chicken can be categorised as comfort food for those who have an Indian palate, the restaurant also serves another variation of the dish with brown rice or pita bread.

Follow the writer on Twitter @purplesaga

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