3 June 2008

Butter Chicken: Indian Affair vs Ruchi Belconnen

| Maelinar
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Probably out of many peoples memories now, I noted another rioters commentary about Indian Affair in Phillip having a pretty darned nice butter chicken. In the same essence as the Sammy’s Laksa (old premises) being a 10/10/10 for comparitive purposes – Ruchi Belconnen gets the mantle of 10/10/10 here’s a blow by blow comparison of Ruchi Belconnen vs Indian Affair, Phillip butter chicken:

India Affair
Taste (Flavour) = 10
Size = 10
Ingredients = 10
Decor/Cutlery = 12
Waiting Staff = 12
Cost = 10

Ruchi takes the sidelines to this butter chicken. While this is a comparison of two very good curries, I was tempted to dish out a 9 towards the Indian Affair BC because its base is tomato rather than cashew nut based – but then decided against it because the rest of the deal was so good it hardly mattered that much. The decor is absolutely exceptional, it could be used as the set of any given bollywood movie – a sheer upgrade from the clinical new look of Ruchi.

I’ll also give the waiter at Indian Affair a special note – he was jovial, and was working hard to make sure I had the best experience I could have from the moment I walked in the door, something I found extremely refreshing. I also noted while I was there, he brought out an additional dish to two other patrons to get them to try a new recipe he was trialling – this is seriously good old fashioned service.

Overall Rating:
I give it a 12, it’s better than Ruchi butter chicken. Unfortunately the south side is not very accessible, so its relegated to special occasions for me. If I were a southside resident, I’d be putting this on my list of places to go for those ‘special’ occasions.

I’m going to get lucky tonight kind of occasions…

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I eat at indian affair regularly – once every 2 weeks. I haven’t hit a bad dish yet – and the cheese naan is the best way to sop up the gravy.

re the comment about the other restaurant in queanbeyan run by the same family, I know of a couple of people who trek to phillip rather than go there. If anything, this is a pretty good indication that the food is great at phillip, but the service is better than queanbeyan.

There are 2 spice shops in phillip – one in colbee court upper called spices of the world, and one in dundas court lower called lotus. I usually go to Lotus, as they have spices for some of the more exotic cooking I do.

I did this review upon a recommendation by another Rioter. Since its an unpaid role, the short answer is no.

I know this review was specifically about the butter chicken…but did you try any other dishes and if yes, were they any good?

I had a nice butter chicken last week. Only problem was it was at the Tandoor restaurant in Bangalore. Bit far to go for dinner normally.

Woody Mann-Caruso8:42 pm 04 Jun 08

Here’s a good recipe from the classic 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi. She claims that the dish is restaurant-only, because homes don’t have tandoors, and that the dish originated in the 1950s at the Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi when they made the sauce by adding butter and tomato to the leftover chicken juices in the marinade trays for the tandoori chicken. You can make it with diced boneless chicken (tikkas, from the Hindi tukra meaning pieces) or, for a more traditional presentation, from skinned quarters. The chicken should be tandoor roasted, but this recipe makes a reasonable facsimile using a marinade and a frying pan.

Butter Chicken
Murgh Makhani
(serves 4)

900g chicken (skinned quarters, smaller pieces on the bone, or boneless pieces)
4-5 tbsp oil

For the marinade

2 cups full fat yoghurt
6 garlic cloves
1cm square of fresh ginger
2/3 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
a tiny pinch of tandoor colour (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp lime juice

Drain the yoghurt in a piece of cheesecloth til the whey has dripped away. Puree garlic and ginger in a blender. Combine yoghurt, puree and all other marinade ingredients and mix well. Make sashes in the chicken if on the bone. Marinate in yoghurt mixture for 1 hour, preferably 2, or overnight for best results.

For the mahkani sauce

700g tomatoes (use puree for a smooth restaurant finish)
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
75g chilled butter
1/2 tsp paprika
few drops vinegar
1/4 tsp garam masala
40ml single cream

Scald and peel tomatoes. Reduce to a semi-pulp with a fork or potato masher. Pulverise the fenugreek leaves.

When ready to cook, heat the oil in a large, thick-bottomed frying pan and add the chicken with marinade. Cover and cook over a low heat til done, turning regularly.

In another pan (or the same pan, if you want to clean it out now) add tomato puree and cook for 5 minutes. Add chilled butter and paprika; after the butter has melted, let it cook for just 1 minute. Taste – if it has no sourness, add a few drops of vinegar. Add fenugreek and garam masala with salt to taste. After 30 seconds, add cream and stir. Pour over chicken immediately, stir well and serve straight away.

Tips: don’t use unchilled butter, and don’t cook for more than three minutes or it will become grainy. You can cook the chicken ahead of time – the makhani sauce only takes 5-6 minutes to make. You can even make the tomato base ahead of time, then add the butter etc just before serving. In India, restaurateurs add a little raw pawpaw puree into the marinade as a tenderiser.

A slight aside – I recently discovered a little Indian supermarket in Dundas Court (I think, opposite Video Ezy) in Phillip run by a lovely family of three. Apparently it has been there for 20 years but i’m a bit slow on these things.

Anyhoo, give them a go – lots of spices, sauces, weird things in cans ( I bought some gulab jumin in a can, fingers crossed) plus they also have a massive Bollywood DVD section where you can rent or buy!

Perhaps Maelinar can get a good butter chicken recipe off them.

Woody Mann-Caruso2:32 pm 04 Jun 08

I didn’t think you could make butter chicken without a tomato base. Isn’t it just murgh makhani – a sauce of tomatoes with butter and cream? And with ground almonds rather than cashews?

@peterh – yes.

How I rate is I set a generic comparison and work towards that, I feel that it gives a more reliable means for readers to compare against, rather than just putting in a plug for a single restauraunt, which can appear emotive.

Therefore a score >10 means better, <10 means worse, and 10 means equivalent.

I had some of the Indian Affair butter chicken the other night after Baby G2 was born. Always good and I claim the title as their first customer ever at Indian Affair. Was impressed then and keep going back.

so… I was right?

I love it when I am. Gary will be so pleased. It won’t gain me anything for free, but then again, the levels of quality that he provides, both in service and food make up for that.

I have found that Phillip is starting to become a good area for different eating experiences, and apart from my favorites like Indian Affair, Mings Chinese Restaurant, The Wattle Takeaway, The Chocolate Olive (both for coffee & food) & VIP Pies, there are several other restaurants and cafe’s that I haven’t tried yet – and will steadily work my way through over the next few years.

BTW, at home, I am peter@home – at work, I am peterh. I try to keep both separate, as I have different thoughts from day to day. This is also why I respond often the next day to queries and comments for peterh’s posts, and at night for peter@home.

Not relevant to the thread, but before I get several comments about why I am claiming the honours for the butter chicken post re best restaurants, I thought it best to come clean.

On a similar note, the new Indian Restaurant at the Platypus Centre in Ngunnawal is superb. It has replaced the Kitchen of India that was also rather good. It is now better and cheaper. They have updated the decor as well so it doesn’t look so dated now.

Unfortunately I don’t think many people know about it. They have good friendly service and I really hope they last. If you live Northside, give it a try.

Their website is http://www.mirchi.net.au/

For those rated 4.0 and lower I’d suggest you do the chicken dance (complete with flapping elbows) as well as singing the line 😉

Thanks Ari – I’ll put that on my reference list of lines for women rated 6.0 and lower.

Loquaciousness1:46 pm 03 Jun 08

There is absolutely no competition for Indian Affair’s butter chicken. Ah … except for the Punjabi Hut in Queanbeyan … it’s run by the same family, using the same recipe. Wouldn’t consider going anywhere else!

I’d be putting this on my list of places to go for those ’special’ occasions.

I’m going to get lucky tonight kind of occasions…

I guess Mael must use the line: “I feel like chicken tonight, honey.”

re: exceptional service with personality to boot:
That would be Gary Singh (the owner) most likely, but his wife Surinder does much the same when she’s doing front-of-house.

When I worked in the Phillip area Gary was great at cutting deals for regulars and was a shameless self-promoter.

Tuppence to anyone who mentions the glowing review on RiotACT as the source of their custom, and also mentions that RiotACT is always willing to talk about advertising rates.

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