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. :)
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)
- 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.
- 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.
Try it!!! And let me know how it turns out. :) If you have a different or better recipe for butter chicken, please do share. Will be happy to put it up here (attributed to you) or to link to your website. Share the love, share the recipes!