Behind the Seasoning: Butter Chicken
Home of the Taj Mahal, it's the literal spice capital of the world. We're headed to India with an incredibly popular Spice 'n Easy. Also known as murgh makhani, Butter Chicken is a rich, luxurious curry with a flavor and texture that mirrors the creamy marble walls and jaw-dropping grandeur of India’s Taj Mahal. No traditional tandoor oven is needed; preparing this majestic mausoleum-inspired dish takes minutes and makes any meal a masterpiece.
First and foremost, did you know it is believed over 1,000 elephants helped build the Taj Mahal? Wow! Thanks, elephants! And great job, it turned out really well. Since it’s one of the most iconic and impressive wonders of the world, we wanted to identify a dish from Indian cuisine that was equally iconic and would impress even the most critical of critics (aka all 3-year-old children and my mom).
With so many exquisitely spiced dishes to choose from, just picking one was the real challenge. We knew we wanted to make a curry, and as Tikka Masala’s dreamy, creamy cousin, Butter Chicken was a frontrunner from the beginning. However, despite being characterized by several core ingredients (tomato, butter, heavy cream, Garam Masala, etc.), we quickly learned that ordering Butter Chicken at different restaurants can yield wildly different results.
Ranging from rich red and tomato-forward to sunny yellow and lightly sweet, every version of Butter Chicken we tried was uniquely delicious. So we set out to create a balanced blend that captured the essence of butter chicken while also giving it a signature Savory Spice twist.
Leading the charge to Butter Chicken greatness was Garam Masala, a traditional Indian spice blend of citrusy coriander, black pepper, earthy cumin, floral cardamom, and a suite of sweet spices. Paired with umami-rich tomato, savory garlic and onion, golden turmeric, and zingy ginger, this blend couldn’t be butter–I mean better.
Cut to you in your kitchen with a Butter Chicken Spice ‘n Easy mix in your hands. What’s it gonna take to get this tasty entrée on the tablée? First, you’ll mix up a 2-ingredient sauce and use part of it as a marinade for the chicken. Then, while the chicken goes in the oven for a quick broil, the remaining sauce is simmered with brown butter (for complexity) and tomatoes. Combine the chicken and sauce, and you’re in business!
Love curry but want to skip the dairy? Use coconut milk and coconut oil or vegan butter instead. Want to save a chicken’s neck and try a head of cauliflower instead? Go for it! Paneer or potatoes are also great vegetarian substitutes. And for a tropical twist, swap out the canned tomatoes for canned mangoes. The swap-ortunities are endless!
Since you simply can’t eat curry without naan, check out this Pillowy Garlic Naan recipe for the perfect side that doubles as an eating utensil. Thirsty? Wash it down with a refreshing Fruit Masala Lassi, a classic Indian yogurt drink.