History of butter chicken

Originating in Northern India between 1947 and 1952, butter chicken has grown in popularity right around the world. You can now enjoy it in Indian restaurants in Jamaica or even in Australia. If you can’t find the time to dine in at a restaurant near you, you can even buy a tasty meal of butter chicken frozen, in a local store. This article will discuss the history of butter chicken, so you’ll know how this delicious dish came about.

It’s a Hindi name

Butter chicken is known as Murgh Makhani in Hindi, so if you’re ever met with perplexed looks when you ask for it by its English name, try Hindi instead and you just might get this savory treat for lunch or dinner. Its mildly spicy, creamy flavor has made it one of India’s most popular culinary exports.

A tale of two families

There’s actually a dispute over the origins of butter children and two Indian families claim that this spicy dish is their legacy. It’s difficult to figure out which of them is actually the real originator of butter chicken. According to the first legend, Kundan Lal Gujral always made tandoori chicken in the 1920s, in a Dhaba located in Peshawar.

He opened a restaurant in Delhi after independence and since he and his partners didn’t want to waste leftovers, he experimented with masalas, tomatoes, butter, and dried chunks of chicken, to create butter chicken. As with all partnerships, there’s always a dispute over who actually came up with the winning idea, formula, or in this case, recipe.

The descendant of one of the partners, claims that Gujral wasn’t the one who came up with the recipe. This aggrieved descendant’s name is Raghav Jaggi and he says that the world-famous recipe was actually created by his grandfather, Kundan Lal Jaggi.

According to Raghav Jaggi’s version of the story, Gujral didn’t have much to do with the cooking at the restaurant. Instead, he was responsible for ensuring that guests at the Moti Mahal restaurant always had an enjoyable experience. He was a great host, who played a critical role in the restaurant’s success.

However, Raghav Jaggi’s grandfather was the one who worked to create the recipe. He came up with the dish when a large group of refugees came to the restaurant seeking a meal and he didn’t have enough to feed all of them. He made the gravy and added the tandoori chicken to it, ensuring that there was enough for the refugees to eat with naan.


Whoever actually created the dish, it started right there, in that restaurant, and from there, it became so famous that the restaurant became a landmark and Prime Minister Nehru became a patron. Former US President Nixon has even stopped there to have a meal. There are now Moti Mahal franchises right around the globe.

Each Indian restaurant has its own way of cooking butter chicken, so the dish that you get in the UK may be slightly different from what you enjoy in Trinidad. Despite that, you can always count on it being mildly spicy.