Butter Chicken a la Umma

I’d like to start this post thanking everyone who have been visiting my blog and supporting me. It’s a high seeing the site stats shoot up everyday and reading such encouraging comments. It’s given me the push for my second post which is coming much sooner than I had imagined. I started on a sweet note so this time round, I’m cooking a savory and traditional recipe . I don’t think it can get more Indian (actually Punjabi)  than with a post of butter chicken.


Call it Mugh Makhani or butter chicken, this is my favorite go-to dish at any restaurant serving North-Indian food. My personal favorite is the butter chicken served at Moti Mahal in Abu Dhabi. The restaurant claims to be a chain of the original one in Delhi where butter chicken was first introduced. The chicken is grilled in the Tandoor oven (which is the original method of preparing the chicken for this dish) and then added to a buttery, tangy and sweet sauce. All I need is garlic Naan to wipe out the bowl and I am a happy foodie.

This is my first request for a post. The husband dearest has been marketing my food blog and was approached by a colleague asking if I’d be willing to share a recipe for butter chicken. I nearly sent out a quick email. On second thought, I decided to make a post of it. It’s been ages since I’ve had my mothers’ butter chicken and Jeera rice, a combination I love.  This recipe is what she has put together after trying out a few recipes from her assortment of cookbooks and it’s something I’ve been thinking of making and it’s hasn’t happened. Thanks to Sanaa, I get to make it, blog it, eat it and share it. I hope you like this recipe.

The marination of the chicken in ground whole spices is the secret behind a good butter chicken. Traditional recipes use ripe tomatoes as the base to a good curry. This is how mums’ recipe is different. Her version is perfect for a butter chicken which is easy to make and yet, has the fabulous flavor. I read the recipe for the butter chicken made at Ushna, one of Abu Dhabi’s finest Indian restaurant. For a kilo of chicken, they use 5 kilos of tomatoes that are boiled with other spices for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Yes, I read the recipe over and over again and no, I didn’t read it wrong. We had ordered it for husband dearests’ birthday dinner at Ushna. It tasted excellent and makes the elaborate process worthwhile. I prefer the Moti Mahal Murgh Makhani hands down.

When I do have time on my hands, I’d love to try that recipe. If you’d like a challenge too, you can read Ushnas’ version here.

Otherwise, here’s the painless preperation for Butter Chicken a la Umma.


  • Chicken (boneless cut into cubes) – 1/2 kg
  • Butter – 2 tbsp
  • Medium sized onion – thinly sliced
  • Fresh Breakfast Cream
  • Boiling Water – 1 cup
  • Chilli – 2, split lengthwise

For Marinade

  • Peppercorn – 1 tsp
  • Black Cumin – 1 tsp
  • Yoghurt – 1/4 cup
  • Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
  • Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
  • Garam Masala – 1 tsp
  • Clove – 3 whole
  • Tomato Paste – 2 tbsp
  • Salt – to taste


  • Grind peppercorn and black cumin till powder.
  • Add remaining dry ingredients of the marinade, including cloves, and grind again.
  • In a bowl, add the yoghurt,tomato paste and ground powders and mix well.
  • Add boneless chicken and salt, making sure the marinade coats the chicken completely.
  • Keep in the refrigerator overnight.
  • An hour before making the curry base, take the bowl outside from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature.
  • Heat a saucepan and add butter when it is hot.
  • Once the butter melts completely, add the sliced onions. Ensure the flame is not too high which would then burn the onions.
  • Fry the onions till they are reduced to a dark brown colour.
  • Add the chicken and the remaining marination sauce.
  • Cook the chicken till the sauce reduces and the oil clears (5-10 minutes).
  • Add boiling water, stirring it well.
  • Cover the saucepan and allow the chicken to cook completely until it is tender (15-20 minutes).
  • When chicken is cooked through, stir in the fresh cream and stir gently till it dissolves.
  • Add slit chilli or extra cream on top to garnish.


Overnight marination enhances the flavor of the chicken but it is optional.If you are in a hurry, you can make the marinate the chicken for at least an hour and then follow the same recipe.

Hope you like it Sanaa.

Have a good food day.

Sticky Toffee Pudding


It’s finally that time of the year. Misty mornings, a little less of the sun and an excuse to have all the hot chocolate you want, what’s not to like about winter? Given the fact it’s gone before you know it, I love making the most of this weather in the UAE. If it’s winter, it also means it’s time to clean up the sooted grills and plan a barbecue.

In Jumeirah at my parents place, we grill outside in the open garden. In Abu Dhabi at my in-laws place, we kick it up a notch. We do a rooftop barbecue. The lawn is home to Mummy’s vegetable garden which has begun bearing produce. Besides, there is a tall bougainvillea and a bushy henna tree which means there’s not enough ventilation. And so, we all brave climbing up and own three flights of stairs in our villa and enjoy grilling on the rooftop with a beautiful view of the city.

This time, we hosted my family for a barbecue dinner. Parents, sibling and his friends visiting from the US, uncle, aunt and cousins plus children maketh 21 adults and 5 children. The more, the merrier is what we believe.

Customarily, the large family get-togethers means I’m making dessert. And I love doing it. I have three cousins who sing praises at me if there’s chocolate in the recipe. My gorgeous nieces make their way through two or three cupcakes licking off only the frosting and handover the cakes to my sister who is more than happy. The plan is to bake a few batches of cupcakes for the siblings and the children and an additional ‘adult’ pudding. I say adult because apart from my beloved Vappa, none of the elders like chocolate  in their dessert. They usually prefer a traditional Kerala Payasam, almost always jaggery based which is something the younger ones including my husband don’t fancy much.

Ever since I really started cooking, I’ve been searching far and wide for a dessert which everyone loves to eat. I had tremendous success with a tiramisu recently. I didn’t want to make the tiramisu again. 4 days before D-Day I leaf through my cookbooks and browse through all my bookmarks on internet. After an hour, I found it. Jamie Olivers’ Sticky Toffee Pudding. How could it go wrong? The reason I loved this recipe so much is because of one ingredient – fresh dates.

Living in the UAE means you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to this fruit with choices ranging from dried dates to stuffed with orange peel, almond, take your pick. This recipe calls for Medjool dates which is a large and succulent variety. I used dates from the supermarket that matched the descripton. True to Jamie’s style, this is a hassle-free preparation without compromising on flavor.

I made this pudding with double the quantity. This means you have to leave the pudding a little longer in the oven than the required 30 minutes. The key is to ensure that the pudding is cooked right through without burning the edges of the pudding. You’re looking for a fairly deep brown. I do think it’s key to make the toffee sauce right before serving, which is not a pain because it’s ready before you know it.

And there you have it. Warm toffee trickling through moist pudding. I’ve never liked toffee  and this recipe makes me want to pull off a Nigella-esque experience with caramel.

We had a great evening which went on past the tiny tots bedtime. The weather was cool throughout the night. With so many adults, there were quite a few suggestions on how to get the BBQ started, whether there was enough coal, the heat required for a good char and a lot more. At one point, it looked like we wouldn’t get much done. Thankfully, it all ended well with smoky juicy meat to accompany an exhausting spread. The highlight was hands down the whole roasted baby lamb. And yes, the Pudding.

You’re going to love very bite. I promise.

Wrapping up my first post satisfyingly.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Jamie Olivers’ unabridged recipe


  • 225g fresh dates, stoned
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 85g unsalted softened butter
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 170g self-raising flour
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons Ovaltine
  • 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt

Toffee Sauce

  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 115g light muscovado sugar
  •  140ml double cream


  • Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Put the dates in a bowl with the bicarbonate of soda and cover with 200ml/7fl oz of boiling water. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes to soften, then drain.
  • Whiz the dates in a food processor until you have a purée.
  •  Meanwhile, cream your butter and sugar until pale using a wooden spoon, and add the eggs, flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and Ovaltine.
  • Mix together well, then fold in the yoghurt and your puréed dates.
  • Pour into a buttered, ovenproof dish and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes.
  • While the pudding is cooking, make the toffee sauce by putting the butter, sugar and cream in a pan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has thickened and darkened in colour.
  • To serve, spoon out the pudding at the table and pour over the toffee sauce.


I forgot to buy Ovaltine which I’m sure would have rendered a difference in the flavor of the pudding. The pudding tasted delicious without it, so feel free to omit it.

Have a good food day.