Now I've loved butter chicken for as long as I've loved chicken. But I've had two problems with the restaurant butter chicken -- whether in India or in Melbourne -- I've had. 1) It always leaves me feeling really bloated 2) all the ghee/butter and cream gives me nasty gas.
Forced by my gastronomic disabilities -- love butter chicken, don't want to fart (!) -- I experimented... successfully. Now there are at least five different ways of making butter chicken and a basic e-search will give you those recipes. After trying most of them, this is a version of the butter chicken I've come up with.
What's so special about it? It uses roughly 2 tablespoons of oil, has the authentic taste and does not use any milk products -- butter, cream or yoghurt -- in it. I can hear the puritans yelling, "That's not butter chicken." But hey, try my version, you won't regret it. However, I cannot call it completely fat-free since the cashew nut paste is somewhat fatty. But bloody tasty. :)
JB special Butter Chicken
Prep time: 20 minutes (includes marination)
Cooking time: 30 minutes, on low heat, covered
Try this with: Steamed rice, bread or roti/ chapati
Breast or thigh fillets 500 g (cut into cubes)
Salt 1 TSP, heaped
Chilli powder 1 TSP
Ginger paste 1/2 TSP
Garlic paste 1/2 TSP
Vegetable/Canola oil 1 TSP (of 2 TBS)
Turmeric powder 1 TSP, heaped
Coriander powder 1 TSP, heaped
For the sauce:Onions 2 medium or 1 large, blended
Tomatoes 2-3 medium, blended
Ginger paste 1/2 TSP
Garlic paste 1/2 TSP
Coriander powder 1/2 TSP
Turmeric 1/2 TSP
Fresh coriander 2 TBS, blended
Tomato ketchup 1 TBS
Cashew nuts 100 gms, blended
Water (if needed)
- Mix the teaspoon oil, turmeric, coriander powder, chilli powder, salt and ginger-garlic paste together. Rub it on the chicken pieces -- should coat every piece -- and let the chicken sit for 20 minutes. (Use this to prepare the other ingredients)
- Blend the onions, tomatoes and cashew nuts -- separately please -- and keep aside.
- Heat remaining oil in a pan. Once its smoking hot, add the marinated chicken pieces and stir fry on high heat for 5 minutes or till all chicken pieces turn 'white'. Use a slotted spoon -- leaves the oil in the pan -- to pick out the chicken and keep aside on a plate.
- Reduce heat to medium and in the same pan, add the onion paste. Fry till it dries out and starts turning golden.
- Reduce heat to minimum and add the ginger and garlic pastes. Stir fry for 3 minutes.
- Raise the heat to medium -- sorry, all this heat up-down is only till this step, promise -- add the blended tomatoes and cook, stirring intermittently, till the sauce dries out a little.
- Reduce heat to minimum, mix in the tomato ketchup, stir fry for 2 minutes.
- Add the cashew nut paste and blended coriander; mix well.
- Add the pre-fried chicken pieces and mix so that all pieces coated with the sauce.
- Add sugar/salt according your taste IF needed.
- How does the gravy look? Depending on the tomatoes used -- ripe ones have more water content -- and how well you've followed the recipe, you shouldn't need to add any water. However, if the gravy looks too dry, add 1/2 - 1 cup water, mix in. Do remember that butter chicken gravy is never watery.
- Cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or till chicken pieces are tender.
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, roasted cashew nuts or cream 'squiggles' (as in pic) and serve hot with rice or roti.
- The chilli powder is optional, the dish tastes just as good without it.
- The flavour of your butter chicken depends a lot on the tomatoes used: Select ripe tomatoes else the dish can turn out sour.
- Butter chicken is lightly salted and is somewhat sweetish; don't go adding too much salt.
- For those who like their butter chicken to taste extra buttery, add 1/4 cup cream with the cashew nut paste.
- You don't need to add any additional salt, cashew nuts release a natural sweetener that works just fine. However, if the tomatoes are too sour, chuck in a teaspoon of sugar or adjust according to taste.
- As always, before you put the pan on fire, prepare your indredients first... I've had a rather smokey kitchen because I'm looking for something while the oil burns in the pan.
- If you have one blender jar -- as I do -- and don't want to go washing after each session, follow this order: Puree cashew nuts first, followed by onions and lastly the tomatoes.
- While blending, do not add any extra water.