Mughal Mahal – The Original Butter Chicken of Rajendra Place

Cuisine: North Indian
Location: View Google Map
gpsAddress: 7, Govind Lal Sikka Marg, Rajendra Place, New Delhi

Who invented the butter chicken is a hotly debated topic and now being debated in a court of law. There are two claimants to the inventor title – A restaurant chain called Moti Mahal and a restaurant chain called Daryaganj. Butter chicken was invented at the Moti Mahal restaurant, which was located in Daryaganj, a prominent location of Old Delhi. At the centre of the original butter chicken debate are two gentlemen, both called Kundan Lal.

One is Kundan Lal Gujral and the other Kundan Lal Jaggi. Both men were supposedly partners at the original Moti Mahal in Daryaganj and the debate in court is which of the two invented the original butter chicken. Though it’s for the court to decide on the real butter chicken, one thing I can say is the dishes in both restaurants do not come across as one that created a revolution. Which butter chicken was. I’ve also always wondered what was butter chicken made with before broiler chicken was introduced in India in the 1970’s. Aseel?

The Original Butter Chicken of Rajendra Place

You now get butter chicken across the length and breadth of India. Obviously there are regional variations to the dish. Many in South India will add curry leaf to the butter chicken as a mandate. But most recipes across India are fairly forgettable. I’ve had this dish in many different parts of India, across restaurants and hotels and very few places stand out. My go to place for butter chicken in Delhi is a restaurant called Mughal Mahal. This may not be the original recipe, but it’s the original butter chicken of Rajendra Place.

Mughal Mahal’s butter chicken is very different from every other butter chicken one finds in Delhi. Creamy, buttery and delicious! The cream is supposed to come specially from a dairy farm in Ashram, on the other side of Delhi. The Mughal Mahal butter chicken is unlike any other butter chicken I’ve had, and I keep going back to this.

Mughal mahal

Butter chicken is a simple yet not so simple dish. Tandoori chicken cooked in a gravy made from ripe tomato, butter, cream, red chilly powder and kasoori methi. Some put garam masala and other spices. Some don’t. Some recipes are with cream and butter. Some are just butter. You’ll find numerous recipes on the internet on how to make butter chicken. There’s no single authentic recipe for the dish, unless the courts decide on which one is authentic and that recipe gets published. Till then you can try making all of them. Just avoid the recipes which have onion. There’s no onion in butter chicken.

Happy hunting and chowder on!

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