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08 February 2015 @ 09:54 pm
Fifty Weeks, Fifty Curries: Week Twenty-One: Murgh Makhani  

The sauce is one of the most important parts of the curry for me, and butter chicken has one of the best sauces out there. It's not my favorite saucy, liquidy curry, as that honor goes to egg kheema, which sadly does not have a place in 50 Great Curries of India, but it comes in a close second, and the sound and emoji above are a pretty good approximation of my response when softlykarou told me earlier today what this week's curry would be.

Yes, it had butter, yogurt, and kefir in it. Lactoseapolooza!

It was exactly as buttery and juicy and lovely as I was hoping that it would be. It took a bite of the chicken, after a brief interlude where I spilled some of the sauce due to not properly accounting for the shape of the bowl when I was cutting the chicken, and...well, see my description of what happened when I bit into chicken rizzala for an accurate account of what the chicken for murgh makhani was. The different here is that I liked the sauce as well. It was chock full of tomatoes, and their acidity helping to cut through all the butter and yogurt in the sauce to produce something that was very rich without being overwhelmingly filling. It wasn’t particularly spicy and didn’t have a ton of flavor on its own, but like butter it was great as a compliment, and I would take a bite of chicken and then a couple spoonfulls of the sauce to mix them together, which was amazing.

Words from the Chef
This is a curry I was really nervous to make. It's one of dorchadas's favorites and I would feel pretty crappy if I messed it up. It's incredibly easy to make, I can imagine it would have had even deeper flavor if the chicken had marinated overnight rather than a few hours. The thing is, butter chicken is usually too rich for me. It's really not one of my favorite curries to eat and making it helped me understand why. It's a lot of oil to cook the chicken plus the whole stick of butter in the sauce. The tomatoes help give it a bit of tartness but it's just too rich for me and it was hard for me to taste any of the other flavors in it. I might make it for dorchadas as a treat sometime but I don't see it becoming a curry night staple.
This isn’t the first time that softlykarou and I have disagreed on a curry, but I think this might be one of the ones where I have the strongest disagreement, though mostly just because of differing tastes. I love rich food and especially rich sauces--one of my favorite non-curry dinners that softlykarou made in the last couple months was when we went to eat at Turkish Cuisine and then she replicated the sultan’s delight that I ordered there--so for me the buttery, creamy sauce was one of the high points of the meal. I would love for it to become a curry night staple, but I can understand if it doesn’t.

The flavor just jumps out at you through the screen, doesn’t it?

That said, it wasn’t an unqualified love-fest. For one thing, murgh makhani doesn’t have much of a spice profile, and I can’t discount the fact that I might not mind as much as I normally would because softlykarou went out to Mexican food for brunch and so I had spicy food earlier in the day. In much the same way that I wouldn’t want to have sultan’s delight on curry night (discounting that it’s not a curry for a moment), I probably wouldn’t want to have a non-spicy curry be a regular part of curry night. And honestly now that I think about it, sultan’s delight is a better fit for the “incredibly rich fatty dairy dish” category because we made it with short ribs instead of chicken, which leaves murgh makhani in kind of a liminal position. Not quite spicy enough for curry night, not quite rich enough for...uh, butter night?

I didn’t realize before now that I should have a butter night, but it’s starting to sound like a good idea.  photo emot-c00l.gif

Naan probably would have gone better than rice with this, the better for soaking up the sauce, but we didn’t think of that until we sat down to eat.

It’s not like I’m going to talk myself out of liking it, though. Murgh makhani was very good. It was like chicken rizzala with butter instead of spice, and accounting for that different a lot of the things I saw about chicken rizzala apply here too. But the spice is an important part of a curry, so unlike last week, I wouldn’t want this one to become a staple.

Would I Eat It Again?: Gladly.
Do I Prefer It to the Usual Thai Curry?: No. I do love rich buttery sauces, but the lack of spice means I wouldn’t want to eat it week-in, week-out.
What Would I Change?: As I said above, try it with naan instead of rice. The sauce would be great for dipping bread into, but all we had around was rye bread, which...might have worked, but I wouldn’t have bet on it.

Edit: softlykarou found an actually-useful promoted link when she posted this on Facebook--a different recipe with a lot more spices. That might assuage my concerns with this curry. We’ll have to save the recipe and try it later!
Current Mood: fullfull
Current Music: Brandon Strader - One Ring (Lord of the Rings: Volume 1 - The Shire)