The Dadar landmark that introduced Butter Chicken to Mumbai 70 years ago has redefined the dish as a homage to the past and nod to the present
Culinary trends pass quicker than one can say butter chicken, yet butter chicken has managed to remain part of every trend. From poutines to pizza, baos and risottos, biryani and even wraps or bowls, the creamy and tangy creation has found its way into every dish.
For people on a national and global level, India is almost synonymous with butter chicken. The combination of tandoori chicken and a tomato-cream curry sauce is what results in a dish craved by people across demographics. So much so, that one could say there’s just two types of people in the world. Ones who love butter chicken, and others who haven’t had Pritam’s butter chicken yet!
Seated in the lap of Mumbai’s midtown commercial nerve centre, Dadar, Pritam has reigned over the palates of millions in Mumbai. The city’s favourite North Indian haunt has now taken it up a notch, and reintroduced an age-old variant of butter chicken—the Purani Dilli Murg Shaan-au-Shaukat on its menu! Butter chicken, which is deeply a part of Pritam’s legacy, wasn’t always the way we know it now.
Launched in 1942, the 79-year-old institution was the first of its kind in the region. It introduced the Punjabi style of cooking and offered a whole new gastronomic experience for people in Maharashtra. For anyone looking to have Butter Chicken, Saag, Baingan Ka Bharta, or Kaali Dal, Pritam was a no brainer.
For featuring this very Butter Chicken on their menu in the early 50s, Pritam is credited with being its birthplace in Mumbai. However, the dish was just a simple butter and chicken combination back in the day and was served as an entrée.
The Tandoori Chicken was tossed in butter, rich yogurt, and tempered with spices, ginger, and chillies with a nice unctuous bite to it. The advent of the curry culture, however, has led to the transformation of this popular item into a main course with the addition of the makhani gravy —creamy, aromatic, and gently spiced. The dish, therefore, was rechristened as Murgh Makhani.
This reintroduction covers its journey over the last six decades—from a humble entrée to a globally renowned dish that represents Indian cuisine internationally.
Jaibir Singh Kohli, the fourth-generation restaurateur, grandson of Kulwant Singh Kohli, the man who brought butter chicken to Mumbai, says, “This is us paying homage to our roots. The fact that there is a World Butter Chicken Day itself speaks of its popularity the world over. There is no secret recipe, or special masalas and certainly no secret ingredients—it’s all in the way we treat the produce. Cooking is an art form, and all our chefs are no less than Ustaads. They have worked with us for years and perfected the art of inducing that delicately smoked flavour to the chicken from the tandoor before transferring it into the Makhani gravy. A connection with food is much like any relationship—it needs time, love, and respect. And at Pritam, we do exactly that. You won’t find our food heavily spiced, because we want you to experience a perfect symphony of flavours. We hope people appreciate and enjoy this as much as we loved creating it.”
In keeping with Pritam’s food philosophy of butter chicken being an emotion, not a dish — you can be sure of a warm, loving, and delicious meal.