In this world, there are three types of people. Those who adore Butter Chicken, others who believe it is overrated, and those who never had it. The third type particularly saddens me. In my opinion, it is a catastrophe of epic proportions. Delhi, arguably India’s culinary capital, owes much of its flavour legacy to the Mughals.
How did Butter Chicken come into existence?
On the other hand, Butter Chicken has humbler origins and was born much closer to home. It only goes a few decades back to pre-partition India, to a sweet shop called Mukhey da Dhaba in Peshawar, owned by an older man named Mokha Singh. This is where Kundan Lal Gujral worked and, according to his grandson Monish Gujral, contributed to the invention of the Tandoori Chicken that we all love today. Mokha Singh’s health deteriorated, and he sold the business to Gujral, who renamed it, Moti Mahal. KL Gujral, a wise entrepreneur, realised that Tandoori Chicken sticking upon that seeks above tandoor throughout the day would dry out unless sold. He then had the brilliant idea of making a basic puree with tomatoes, butter, cream, and flavourings to plunge the Tandoori Chicken chunks in, allowing them to restore moisture and become more appealing.
As a result, Butter Chicken was born.
Gujral and Moti Mahal relocated to Delhi when India was segmented, bringing Butter Chicken & Tandoori Chicken. The small store in Daryaganj quickly grew into a fruitful restaurant chain with branches all over the country, operated by his grandson, Monish. The delicate balance of tangy flavour and velvety creaminess makes Butter Chicken appealing. It’s easy to get it wrong; most versions are far too sweet or spicy. Monish reluctantly admits that the dish best served elsewhere does not compare to the classic, and it is easy to disregard him as an expert on the subject.
Today you will get lots of variety, from Butter Chicken flavoured tacos to pizzas, rolls, burgers, and anything else you can think of. Diehards may baulk at these pointless product extensions. When it involves food, however, with human evolution, food evolution comes too. Authenticity is sometimes overrated, and the best Indian cuisine food evolves unapologetically, with the basic goal of pleasing the palate.
Kundan Lal Gujral had no clue he was making history as he tried out Butter Chicken. And if he hadn’t experimented, the world wouldn’t have known about Butter Chicken, Tandoori Chicken, or even Dal Makhani.
After reading this article, if you have the urge to have the flavourful Butter Chicken, then visit us today in Banjara Restaurant. We are in the heart of Virginia, serving you the taste of India!