Chicken Makhani

Original Post Date: 8/23/09

Let’s get one thing straight — I loooooooooove Indian food.  I can’t get enough of it.  And for the longest time, my favorite source of the aforementioned comestible was a tiny hole-in-the-wall at Kenny Center on (appropriately enough) Kenny Road in Upper Arlington named Sher-E-Punjab, which is apparently Hindi for “The Punjabi Lion”.  They had a daily lunch buffet that I and several co-workers would frequent regularly.  They also had a dinnertime buffet four nights a week, Monday through Thursday, with Tuesday’s being a strictly vegetarian affair.  Of all their offerings, my consistent favorite was their version of Chicken Makhani, a somewhat Americanized tomato butter curry chicken.  It may not have been terribly authentic, but it was quite good.  Please note that almost everything they had was tasty, but the Chicken Makhani was, to me, the stand-out item on their menu.

Sadly, Sher-E-Punjab closed its doors several months ago.  This caused me great consternation and inspired me to find an acceptable recipe with which to make my own Chicken Makhani.  I found one, and I dare say, it’s at least as good as Sher-E-Punjab’s, if not better.  (Editor’s Note:  Sher-E-Punjab has since reopened in its original location; the Korean restaurant which opened in its place went out of business in under six months.  Sher-E-Punjab is once again open for business and is again offering a lunchtime buffet seven days a week, yay!)

I prepared the Chicken Makhani for dinner on Sunday night, serving it over basmati rice with some roti paratha picked up at the local Indian grocery.  The finished curry is nothing to look at, but it certainly was every bit as satisfying as that which we’ve enjoyed in better Indian restaurants:

Chicken Makhani

Chicken Makhani
recipe courtesy Recipezaar

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Saute shallot and onion until soft and translucent. Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger garlic paste, 1 teaspoon garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in half-and-half and yogurt. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat and season with 1 teaspoon garam masala and cayenne. Stir in about 1/3 of the sauce and simmer until liquid has reduced and chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Pour the rest of the sauce into the chicken. Mix together cornstarch and water, then stir into the sauce. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.

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