The tight lanes and back streets, filled with life, from street hawkers, to housewives doing the general shop, the tourists and of course the famous dhabas, street food kitchens perched on the edge of the curbs and where the Old Delhi Butter Chicken legend was born.

It is said that a restaurateur didn’t want to throw his unsold tandoori chicken away, but no-one would buy a day-old dish, so he created one. He simmered the succulent grilled chicken in a rich creamy buttery sauce, which was an instant hit.

This luxurious dish is not for the faint hearted or health conscious. It’s a three-stage recipe.
Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken. Rub the marinade into the chicken and coat the pieces well. Cover and refrigerate for two hours.

Preheat the grill. Skewer the chicken pieces and place under the grill turning once after 5 minutes until the chicken is almost cooked. Remove from the grill. When cool enough to handle, pull off the chicken from the skewers and set aside.

Then heat the butter and add the ginger, garlic, ground cashew nuts, chilli powder, garam masala and salt and mix for a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Take off the heat, and let it cool a little then blend the mixture to create a smooth texture.

Return the sauce to the pan and reheat. Add the chicken pieces and cook for another 2 minutes more. Stir in the honey, if using, and swirl in the cream. Garnish with the Kasoori methi or dried fenugreek leaves and serve with rice or naan.

500g boneless and skinless chicken, cut into 2 cm pieces
8-10 wooden skewers, soaked in water
For the marinade:
1 tsp peeled and grated root ginger
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp paprika
4 tbsp natural yogurt
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
the seeds of 6-7 green cardamoms, ground
1 tbsp sunflower oil
For the sauce:
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp peeled and grated root ginger
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup cashew nuts, ground
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
a pinch of salt
1 x 450g tin of chopped tomatoes, blended
1 tsp runny honey (optional)
4 tbsp single cream
1 tbsp kasoori methi

Words & Photography: Monir Ali (
Styling: Tracey Clark
Recipe: Manju Malhi (