RECIPE: Mowgli’s Mother Butter Chicken

RECIPE: Mowgli's Mother Butter Chicken

In 2014, barrister Nisha Katona, a dedicated curry evangelist, had a nagging obsession to create a restaurant serving the kind of food Indian people eat at home and on the street. She gave up her 20-year career in law (she had been the first female Indian barrister in Liverpool) to build Mowgli Street Food. It began in Liverpool, where it blew away the critics, and quickly moved to Birmingham, where it has garnered legions of fans and an amazing following.

Nisha’s April cookbook- Mowgli: Stories and recipes from the Mowgli Street Food restaurants– turns conventional curry stereotypes on their heads. The simple and creative dishes of a Mowgli menu are a million miles away from the traditional takeaway. These recipes convey the truth that real Indian food is healthyoften vegan, and always packed with fresh flavour.

We’re sharing this easy Mother Butter Chicken recipe with you from Nisha’s April cookbook- Mowgli: Stories and recipes from the Mowgli Street Food restaurants.

“This is a Mowgli favourite. What makes it so addictive is the tang of the tandoori dressing marinade. I only make this at home when we have guests, otherwise the uncompromising aromas waft up the drive and can frighten the neighbours.”


5 tbsp vegetable oil

2 large white onions, cut in half and thinly sliced

5cm/2 inch piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

6 garlic cloves, grated

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground fenugreek

½ tsp ground turmeric

¼ tsp chilli powder

2 tbsp tomato purée/paste

400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes

5 tbsp Greek-style yogurt

750g/1lb 10oz bone-in chicken thighs, diced

2 tbsp tandoori masala

2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

80g/3oz/1/3 cup butter

What to do

1 Put the oil in a large heavy pan and set over a medium-high heat. When hot add the diced onion, ginger and garlic and fry for 8 minutes or until the onion has softened and turned golden brown. Turn the heat down to low and add the cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, ground fenugreek, turmeric, chilli powder, tomato purée, canned tomatoes and Greek-style yogurt, stir well and cook for a further 5 minutes. Blend the mixture with a hand-held/immersion blender until it turns into a smooth sauce, then set aside.

2 Rub the tandoori masala into the diced chicken then, in a separate large non-stick frying pan set over a medium-high heat, fry for 6 minutes or until the chicken starts to change colour and brown at the edges.

3 Add the browned chicken to the blended sauce. Return to a low heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Add upto 500ml/17fl oz/2 cups water slowly to achieve the consistency of sauce that you like. Add the salt and sugar and finish by stirring the butter through to create a thick and creamy sauce. Don’t be afraid to add more water to loosen the sauce to your taste.

Mowgli Street Food: Stories and recipes from the Mowgli Street Food restaurants, by Nisha Katona is out now © Nourish Books, 2018. Hardback, £25.

Commissioned photography © Yuki Sugiura

You May Also Like