A recipe for makhani, a proper butter masala, from Gizzi Erskine’s cookbook, Slow: Food Worth Taking Time Over. A brilliant base that can be tweaked to work with poultry, dhal or paneer
IMAGE: ISSY CROKER
If you’ve ever eaten that wonderful Black Dhal they serve at Dishoom, you will know the extreme deliciousness of this dish. I have never heard of any-one who has come out of that restaurant and not shouted about this being one of the standout dishes in the whole of London. I felt the same way the first time I tried Butter Chicken, but only a few years ago I realised that my beloved Butter Chicken, that I bought weekly from Khans in Westbourne Grove as a teenager, was of the same descent. You see, Makhani dishes are all finished with a healthy dose of butter and a slick of double cream, in the very same way that Butter Chicken and the Dishoom Black Dhal is.
Gizzi Erskine’s Makhani
For the base
- 4 tbsp ghee
- 4 onions finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves finely chopped
- large thumb–sized piece of ginger peeled and grated
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- ½ tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 kg tomatoes blitzed in a food processor
- 50 g cashew nuts
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- Heat the ghee in a medium-sized casserole over a medium to low heat, and add the onions. Soften for about 20–30 minutes, being careful not to let them catch by stirring regularly.
- Next, add the garlic and ginger and soften for a further 10 minutes.
- Add the spices and allow to cook for a couple of minutes, then stir in the tomato purée and cook for another minute or two.
- Pour in the blitzed tomatoes and bring everything to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook slowly for 40 minutes until thickened and reduced and full of flavour, making sure to give the sauce a good stir every so often.
- At this stage add the cashew nuts, salt and coconut sugar. Reduce for a further 10 minutes before transferring to a food processor. You want a really smooth creamy texture, so allow the sauce to blend for at least a minute.
- Check for seasoning. Now you have your sauce base!
For Paneer Makhani
- Add 50g butter and 200ml cream to the sauce base.
- Fry 250g of paneer cheese until it starts to crisp up and go golden.
- Add to the sauce and allow to cook for about 5 minutes before adding another swirl of cream and serving with 2 tablespoons of toasted flaked almonds and half a bunch of chopped fresh coriander.
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