So…, here’s the thing, I promised to make Butter Chicken for Tyler’s birthday and somehow it’s taken me over three months to get around to it. If I waited too much longer, I’d have to make it for the next birthday. It’s embarrassing how long it takes me to get the simplest of things done. I would say though, this Butter Chicken is definitely worth waiting for.
We’ve been out for Indian food a few times in Calgary and had many wonderful dishes. However Butter Chicken was often a disappointment with the sauce tasting like a certain canned cream of tomato soup. If you happen to be in Calgary, we’ve had a good Butter Chicken at Mango Shiva (we’re not even going to talk about their Garlic Butter Naan, just the mention of it makes me hungry). Meantime, back in Montana, I started making it at home, and this recipe has now gained ‘Birthday Request Status’.
It is traditional to grill the meat, ‘kabob style’ in bigger pieces, but for simplicities sake I sautéed the chicken in a cast iron pan. This method worked well for the overall flavor because the yummy bits left in the pan get to be included in the sauce.
I quartered and blended my tomatoes with the 1/2 cup of water instead of finely chopping them, just a little way to save some time.
After the first simmering, strain the sauce to remove the whole spices and create a wonderfully smooth finished texture.
Return the sauce to the stove and simmer for a few minutes until it begins to thicken. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked. Don’t worry about the chilis making the sauce spicy, they add great depth of flavor and the finished product isn’t at all spicy.
About the spices:
I’ve found that the local health food stores are my best bet for out of the ordinary ingredients like garam masala and fenugreek leaves. If you can find fenugreek leaves, they will probably be in the herbal section. Truth be told, my fenugreek came from an Indian spice market in Calgary. I know from experience that Butter Chicken is really good even if you are missing a couple of things, not authentic, but that isn’t always too important when selection is limited.
Even though the list of ingredients is a little longer than usual, I tried to keep my adapting to a minimum and stay true to this authentic recipe from Curry Cuisine. I’m currently working on a version of my own with some of the same authentic flavors but dairy-free, (update to come).
You should be aware that this sauce is dangerously addictive. I dipped spear after spear of asparagus into the pan on the stove after dinner. Even now, the leftovers are calling to me from the fridge and it’s getting harder and harder to ignore. I’m day dreaming about rich spices and creamy sauce. I don’t even care what I put it on, this sauce is good with just about everything. Perhaps some garlic butter naan to mop up all traces of deliciousness. When you make it you will see, it’s really that good.
- 1 pound chicken thighs, cut into 1" pieces
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 Teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 Teaspoon chili powder
- 1 Teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ Teaspoon garam masala
- juice of half of a lemon
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- 2 Teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
- 2 whole cloves
- 4 cardamom pods
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2½ cups chopped fresh tomatoes
- ½ cup water
- 1½ Tablespoons chili powder
- ¼ cup butter
- 3 green chilis, split lengthwise
- ⅓ cup cream
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt
- ¼ Teaspoon garam masala
- 1 Teaspoon ground fenugreek leaves
- Combine the chicken with the garlic, ginger, chili powder, sea salt, garam masala, lemon juice, and Greek yogurt. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 Tablespoon of oil to the pan and sauté the chicken in two batches. Cook only long enough to brown, the chicken will finish cooking in the sauce later. Set the chicken aside.
- Put the pan back on the heat and add the ginger, cloves, cardamom, garlic, bay leaf, tomatoes, and water. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Strain the sauce and return to the stove and simmer until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the chili powder, butter, chilis, cream, sea salt, garam masala, and chicken. Simmer for a few more minutes until chicken is fully cooked.
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