Hospitality Lexis Magazine Read Now

An ode to Pritam: The iconic Dadar landmark that introduced Butter Chicken to Mumbai 70 years


What’s the first food item that comes to your mind when you think of India? If much like us, you too thought of Butter Chicken, we have some good news for you. On October 20, which is celebrated as World Butter Chicken Day, Mumbaikars’ favourite North Indian haunt, Dadar’s iconic Pritam Restaurant reintroduces 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 is 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. Soon, it became a household name; for anyone who wanted to have Butter Chicken, Saag, Baingan Ka Bharta, or Kaali Dal, Pritam was a no brainer.

Pritam is credited with being the birthplace of Butter Chicken in Mumbai, changing the lives of people in the city ever since it has featured on their menu since the early 50s. Back in the day, it was just served exactly the way it sounds – Butter and Chicken – and people would have it as an entree. The Tandoori Chicken was tossed in butter, rich yogurt, and tempered with spices, ginger, and chillies with a nice unctuous bite to it. However, the advent of the curry culture led to this much-loved item transforming into the main course with an 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 entree to a globally renowned dish that represents Indian cuisine internationally.

Speaking about this, Jaibir Singh Kohli, the fourth-generation restaurateur, grandson of Kulwant Singh Kohli, the man who brought butter chicken to Mumbai, shares, “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.”

As they say, Butter Chicken is not a dish; it’s an emotion.

What: Reintroducing Purani Dilli Shaan-au-Shaukat Butter Chicken

Where: Pritam Restaurant and Bar, Dadar

When: October 21st, 2021 onwards