Most of you are aware of my vast and unending love for curry. Cook some meat and/or veggies in a spice laden sauce and pour it over rice or injera, and I'm there. A classic curry found on most Indian menus in America, and frequently the star of any Indian buffet, is Butter Chicken. Done right, it is simmered in all the best spices and fats for hours, until it melts in your mouth, and dances on your tongue. Done wrong it tasted like chicken nuggets in a cream of tomato soup. I'm crying just thinking about it.
I ventured out of my comfort zone four or more years ago, when my husband found a wonderful Indian cookbook at our local thrift store. It's called "What's Cooking Indian," by: Shehzad Husain. I asked my family what recipe they wanted me to try first. It was a unanimous vote for Butter Chicken. $30+ worth of spices later, I was intimidated, and shocked. You should be warned that if you don't regularly cook with Indian spices, then getting whole cardamom pods, garam masala, etc. is going to cost you. Once you have it though, it can last quite a while. So, plan on making curries on the regular.
This recipe will take you at least two hours to make, so carve out a lot of time. This is a common birthday request in our household. I mention that, because this is not a healthy dish. It is for special occasions, and is a common food at weddings or other great feasts. This is not meant to be an everyday meal, not unless your daily caloric allowance is way higher than mine.
Seen above are the onions sauteing in 7 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP oil, for a full half a cup of fat. We tend to make a lot of rice, and really love the sauce, and leftovers, so we double the sauce, but keep the chicken at the same amount. I'll spell out the whole recipe, with my notes, below. Doubling the recipe requires a very large pot. I recommend a Dutch Oven if you have one.
My favorite part is mixing the spices with the yogurt and tomato paste. It smells so good. You want to roll eight, bone-in pieces in the sauce until entirely coated, and add to your now caramelized onions. It's important that the chicken is not de-boned, because it's going to cook for a long time, and you don't want it to dry out. Dark meats are preferable. I like drumsticks and thighs because they are inexpensive cuts, and are easy for everyone to eat. Picking the chicken up with your hands is allowed. We pull out thick cloth napkins for this dinner.
While your chicken start to cook you'll want to chop up some green chiles and cilantro. I usually use a poblano or serrano pepper, because that's what I have available. You could use whatever green chile is available in your area, and is at your preferred spice level. As for the cilantro, I will confess that this used to be one of the foods I disliked. Then I learned that my distaste for the herb was genetic. Some people think cilantro tastes like soap, but if you eat it enough, you can desensitize yourself. Which is exactly what I did, and now I love it!
Now there is more stirring, and simmering, and the addition of cream. Yes, there is more dairy! Not only is this a fatty dish, but it is not meant for those of you who are lactose intolerant. Apologies.
So, there you go. This is my New Year's gift to you all. I've had several friends request this recipe, and I've never taken the time to share it properly. I hope you enjoy. I think this would be a perfect meal for this evening, if you're scrambling at the last minute for ideas. Or it could be a perfect lunch/dinner for New Year's day. Cheers to you all, and a Happy New Year filled with love, joy, and delicious food!
Buttered Chicken *All credit to Shehzad Husain*
Ingredients *It's a daunting list, but mostly spices. Remember, you may want to double the sauce*
*Pre-Step: Make 2 cups of rice in a rice maker, or per the instructions on the bag. I won't micro-manage you.*
1: Heat butter and oil on medium-high until melted, add onion, and cook until onions are golden brown. Reduce heat
2: In a mixing bowl combine: ginger, garam masala, coriander, chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, cardamom, peppercorns, yogurt, and tomato paste.
3. Piece by piece, place the chicken in the bowl of yogurt and spices. Coat each piece thoroughly, and add to cooked onions. *I scrape the last of the mixture into the pot when I'm done coating chicken.*
4. Stir-fry the chicken vigorously for 5-7 minutes.
5. Add the water and bay leaves, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
6. Add the cream, and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
7. Garinsh with cilantro and chiles. *serve over rice*
I'm a not-for-profit worker that loves food, both healthy and indulgent. I've eaten the 12 egg omelette at Beth's Cafe: toast, hash browns, and all. Take that Adam Richman!