Friday 1 June 2012

Confessing my Love for Butter Chicken

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Butter Chicken with Yoghurt

Apparently I really love sharing with you, because here are three little confessions for you.

1. I hate it when people go to restaurants and always order the same thing. I think "Why? Why not try something different? You have a whole menu of options to choose from!" The problem is, I am one of those people. When I'm at an Indian restaurant, I always, always, order butter chicken. And you know what? I'm okay that, because butter chicken is fracking delicious. Luckily though, I'm also into the whole "sharing" thing, so I never eat just butter chicken, but I definitely like it to be on my table.

2. I am constantly trying to make "restuarant" dishes at home in my own kitchen, to see if I can replicate the deliciousness. The answer is always yes, but it has to be a balance of effort and outcome if I'm actually going to do it.

3. I LOVE cookbooks. If I didn't picture the look on Other Half's face everytime I brought yet another cookbook home, I would be classified as a cookbook hoarder. We are talking floor-to-ceiling shelving. I can dream, can't I?

And so it is with these confessions I bring to you, a very adapted version of Butter Chicken.  This was always a "restaurant only" dish for me for a long time, but  about 4 years ago when I brought home yet another cookbook all about curries, that all changed. For the most part, the recipes in that book are only okay, but I've played around with this recipe so much, that the page the original recipe is on barely resembles itself and is covered in chicken scratch writing of new quantities of just about every ingredient, and the omission/addition of others. This recipe is 4 years in the making. And this edition of it is by far my favourite.

This recipe has a strong effort to outcome ratio, and through years of tweaking and testing, no longer includes heavy cream (though you can add it back in, if that's your thing, just decrease the yoghurt to 1/3 cup and add in about 1/2 cup heavy cream)

Butter Chicken

2 Tbsp peanut oil (or other cooking oil)
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into large bite-sized pieces (thighs are much more tender than the breast portion, and ideal for this type of recipe)
1/2 cup butter
4.5 tsp garam masala
3 tsp paprika 
1.5 Tbsp ground coriander
1.5 Tbsp grated ginger
4.5 tsp ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp chili powder (our chili powder is HOT, a very little bit goes a very long way, if you are using a milder chili powder, increase to 1 tsp - you'll know if you use a milder version if you look at recipe that calls for 1 Tbsp of chili powder and it doesn't make fire come out of your mouth and ears, at the same time)
2 sticks cinnamon, or about 1/4 tsp ground
a pinch of cardamom seeds
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 - 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1.5 Tbsp lemon juice


spices have simmered and chicken has been coated
  1. Add the chicken and cook until browned on both sides (about 4 minutes) - do this in two separate batches if necessary - remove from panHeat oil over med-high heat, in a large frying pan or wok
  2. reduce heat to med-low, add the butter and melt
  3. Add the garam masala, paprika, coriander, ginger, cumin, garlic, cili powder, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom seeds - fry until fragrant (about 1 minute)
  4. Return the chicken to the pan and coat well in the spices
  5. Add the tomato paste and sugar, and simmer (stirring often) for 15 minutes, or until the chick is tender and the sauce is thick
  6. Add the yogurt and lemon juice, simmer for an extra 5 minutes or until the sauce as thickened to desired consistency.
  7. Serve over rice (or quinoa!) and enjoy!

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