Wednesday, April 13, 2011

butter chicken

There is a story behind this butter chicken. Before moving to Montreal, I worked for a company that had an annual potluck at Christmas. One of my co-workers was famous for bringing his wife's amazing butter chicken to the potluck every year. Before I left, I asked for the recipe and I got way more than I expected. On my penultimate day of work, I found a huge and very heavy plastic bag on my desk. It contained a recipe, a full batch of butter chicken, rice and little spice packages. Amazing!

First, I should say that this recipe makes a lot of sauce. I always freeze half the batch. Even with half the sauce frozen, you will easily feed four people. Another thing to mention is that the spices used in this sauce should not be difficult to find. Just google Indian markets in your city, and you should have no trouble locating the garam masala, chicken curry masala or the fenugreek leaves. Here in Montreal, I get my Indian spices at Epicerie Shavit by Plamondon metro station. Thirdly, you should know that when you cook with this much curry, onion and garlic, your house will STINK for a few days. If you have a fan over your stove, use it, and open as many windows and doors as possible!

butter chicken
Adapted from Mrs. Ghangus' recipe

butter sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp minced garlic
1 large white onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp minced ginger
4 156 ml cans of tomato paste
4 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp chicken curry masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp Indian garam masala
1 1/2 tsp dry fenugreek leaves (also known as methi leaves)
1 green chili, minced
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 handful of chopped cilantro (optional)

2 tbsp olive oil
6 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin

Heat the oil over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook it until it is light brown. Add the onions and sautee until soft, approximately 15 minutes. Add the ginger and cook for three more minutes.

Throw in the salt, turmeric, green chili, curry powder and garam masala.  Cook for one minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for a further five minutes before adding the water.  Let it simmer for about 10 minutes so the flavours can mingle, then add the whipping cream. Again, let it simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the fenugreek leaves and raw sugar.  After two minutes, it's ready!

While the butter sauce is cooking, prepare the chicken.  I only use enough chicken for the amount of sauce I plan to eat that night, so you can adjust the recipe accordingly.  Fry the chicken in the oil with the salt and cumin until there is no pink in the middle.  Add it to your sauce.

Serve over basmati rice and, if you wish, sprinkle some cilantro over it. I'm not sure if that's authentic, but in our house we put cilantro on everything and it seems to work well here.

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