‘Don’t think of it as butter chicken. It’s a celebration’ | india | Hindustan Times
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‘Don’t think of it as butter chicken. It’s a celebration’

Two software engineers-turned-chefs have launched a butter chicken home delivery venture. The price, Rs 6,000 for a portion for two, reports Sneha Mahale.

india Updated: Oct 05, 2009 19:50 IST
Sneha Mahale

Take a cup of Evian natural spring water, a tablespoon of Fillipo Berrio olive oil, Godrej chicken and a pack of Lurpak unsalted butter. Garnish with a dash of black olives and coriander along with specks of edible gold and silver. Now package it in an expensive microwave-proof bowl and a ‘cool’ lid.

Voila, you have the world’s “classiest butter chicken”. And what do you pay for this ubiquitous, yet exotic dish? Rs 6,000 yes, you heard it right, Rs 6,000 for a portion of Butter Chicken for two.

A brainchild of software professionals turned chefs Iran Bharat Saxena and Padma Prasad, Anaarkali Butter Chicken (yes, it’s named that) is a home delivery venture that is set to enter the Mumbai market this November.

The designer dish is packed in a Borosil glass container, with a pyramid-shaped lid and a firm paper base, which is finally placed in a cardboard box. It is delivered fresh and warm to the customer’s doorstep. What more, you don’t even have to step out of your house or dial up as orders have to be placed online, at www.anaarkali.in for the Butter Chicken.

Hit and miss
The site became operational on August 15 this year, but the recipe has been perfected after eight years of hard work. “We are basically butter chicken lovers and we loved the way the dish was prepared in the dhabas around Noida. For eight years, we experimented with it in the kitchen, trying to find the perfect recipe for our favourite dish,” says Padma Prasad, co-founder of Anaarkali Butter Chicken.

This year, the partners had their eureka moment. “Through a process of trial and error we found a mix of ingredients that tasted perfect,” says Prasad.

The dish is unusual in the way it is prepared. It doesn’t include fresh tomatoes, RO filtered tap water or regular cooking oil. The reason for this is that the makers feel that these ingredients don’t give the desired results. “Bharat believes that even the kind of water used can really alter the taste of a dish. When we used Evian we found a difference in the taste and liked it.”

The duo laboured over the years and scouted the country and beyond for that elusive mix. In fact, it was on a visit to Singapore that Saxena discovered Hunt’s Tomato Paste (now a key ingredient and a replacement to the usual tomato puree).
Placing orders can be quite a task though. They only accept a maximum of 10 orders every day. This is because the dish is cooked by the two entrepreneurs only. Prasad says, “It is our baby. We are involved in every aspect of its making. The entire process takes 12 hours but we are in no mood to expand.”

Too pricey?
Quiz her about the exorbitant price and she says, “When we started out, most of the ingredients weren’t even available in India. They had to be imported. We believe that our product is the classiest butter chicken in the world.”

The owners feel that the cost is justified if the logistics and overheads involved in making the dish are taken into consideration.

The venture recently commenced operations as a home delivery service in Hyderabad and is set to make its entry in Mumbai, Delhi and possibly Bangalore by November. Publicity campaigns for these cities have already begun. The duo are currently on a marketing drive that involves travelling to different cities to get people to sample the taste and give feedback.
The venture is a rage on Facebook too. The founders regularly use various groups as testers to their product. N Shenoy from Mumbai got to try the dish through Anaarkali’s Facebook promotion, when packages were sent to a few chosen fans of their group. Quiz him if the dish is indeed worth the price and pat comes the reply, “Yes, so long as someone else is paying for it.”

But Prasad isn’t unperturbed. She believes that as with any premium product, Anaarkali Butter Chicken too will find its takers. “Don’t think of it as butter chicken. It’s a celebration meant for special occasions.”

Five-star chicken
at five-star prices
* Saffron, J W Mariott
Rs 750
* Jamavar, Leela
Kempinski Hotel
Rs 750
* Namak, Sahara Star
Rs 850 + taxes (weekdays) Rs 950 + taxes (weekends)
* Kebab Korner, Intercontinental
Rs 525-Rs 545
* Peshawari, ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton
Rs 1450
* Kebabs and Curries, ITC Grand Central
Rs 995 + taxes

The cost of butter chicken in restaurants across Mumbai
Less than Rs 150
Rajasthan Restaurant, Khar Rs.70
Shalimar Restaurant, Bandra Rs.102
Café Noorani, Haji Ali Rs.110
Shan-e-Punjab, Andheri Rs.115
Apoorva, Fort Rs.125
Zaffran, Andheri/Fort Rs.129
Koliwada, Mahim Rs.130
Rasna Punjab, Matunga Rs.130
Alibaba’s Klay Oven, Colaba Rs.130
Bansuri, Mulund Rs. 140
NH-1 Kitchen & Bar, Andheri Rs. 140
Mini Punjab, Bandra Rs.140

Less than Rs 220
Firangi Dhaba, Andheri Rs.160
Pride, Malad Rs.160
Harish Bar & Restaurant, Rs. 160
Vile Parle
Papa Pancho Da Dhaba, Rs. 163
Chenab, Vashi Rs. 165
Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar, Mahim
Rs. 170 (full)/ Rs.105 (half)
Sasural, Andheri Rs. 172
Galaxy of Stars, Malad Rs. 180
The Dhaba, Andheri Rs.180
Masala Mantar, Andheri Rs.190
Great Punjab Restaurant Rs. 190
& Bar, Dadar
Koyla Rs. 190
Urban Tadka, Rs. 191
Mulund/ Andheri
Mantra, Thane Rs.195
On Toes, Malad Rs. 215

More than Rs 230
Indian Summer, Rs. 230
Salt ‘n’ Pepper, Juhu Rs. 240
Roti Punjab, Andheri
Rs.250 (full)/ Rs.150 (half)
Banana Bar, Khar Rs. 260
Bonobo, Linking Rd. Rs. 300
Masala Chowk, Mulund Rs.269
Kwality, Worli Rs.275
Melting Pot, Juhu Rs. 295
Golden Lawn, Chembur
Rs.160 (half) Rs. 300 (full)
Copper Chimney, Worli/Fort Rs.325
Jewel of India, Worli Rs.325
Moti Mahal Deluxe Tandoori Trail Restaurant, Nariman Point Rs. 369
Gulmurg, Kemps Corner Rs.475