Butter Chicken Battle
Better Butter Chicken Battle Background : Mike meets Moti
I wrote this post in July of 2010. The Mike/Mitch project has interrupted my butter chicken quest, but it is never far from my taste buds.
The Origin Story
Many moons ago when I lived in Tokyo I was first introduced to Indian food. I think my first experience was in a posh place on the Ginza and while I enjoyed the experience it was merely a gateway to Butter Chicken. Once my friends knew that I liked Indian food they took me to Moti and I was encouraged, nay, ordered to try the Butter Chicken. I am sure I had Naan during my first Indian food experiences, but I did not discover it’s true purpose until I dipped it into Moti Butter Chicken. This dish is for me the perfect blend of Indian spices in a creamy gravy. It is spicy enough to make you reach for your beer after every couple of bites, but not so overpowering that you can’t taste the tender chunks of curried chicken. I only lived in Tokyo for a year and a couple summers, but I ate at Moti every chance I got. I usually went with a crowd of Gaijin that would go in and take over one of the larger tables. In theory we were ordering multiple dishes and sharing family style, but I made sure the butter chicken stayed by me. I can recall going in smaller groups and us each just getting our own order of butter chicken. Even back then we knew this was great food and we had to come up with a way to honor this culinary creation. When we left the table after eating at Moti there was never a piece of silverware we did not drop to the floor. I honestly don’t know who came up with the idea (cough…Scott Strbik…cough), but I would like to send an apology out to the wait staff at Moti wherever they may be today.
Ever since leaving Japan I have casually searched for the equivalent of Moti Butter Chicken.Whenever I dine at an Indian restaurant I search the menu for Butter Chicken, but alas I have never found it. I must admit it has been a delicious journey and I have tasted some great Indian food along the way, but nothing has lived up to my memory of Moti Butter Chicken. I have even had a few failed (yet tasty) attempts to make the dish myself just guessing at the preparation and spice proportions. There was even one restaurant in Thousand Oaks, CA that came really close.
20ish Years Later (or The Present)
Last year my friend Chris was taking a trip to Tokyo and knowing I had lived there asked if there was anywhere he should go or eat that the typical tourist may not be aware of. It isn’t hard to guess what advice I gave him. I’m pleased to say that Moti has another customer for life and Minnesota has another frustrated American who does not have access to Butter Chicken. In return for my excellent travel advice Chris brought back a napkin from Moti to taunt me.
A few weeks ago Chris brought me a box with the words Butter Chicken written on it. He had found it at an Indian market in Minneapolis and knew I would want it. I made the dish the next day and while it was not the same dish I remember it may actually have been better. I don’t know if I can really admit that yet or not, but it was a pretty amazing curry dish. I promised Chris I would make it for him if he could get me another box of spices and in response he brought me four different Butter Chicken mixes from the same Indian market. This was all the incentive I needed to start a serious
quest obesession to find the best butter chicken and possibly recreate the flavor from my youth. Let the Butter Battle Begin!