Tuesday, January 05, 2010

My Big Fat Secret Butter Chicken Recipe

I'm in a 'please make me warm mood' due to the grey, cold and snowy day out here in Western Canada.


In honour of it being mid-winter (and me detesting mid winter), I'm posting this really, really delicious recipe with credit to my friend, Bella Patel, who is a lovely person and who was able to sweet talk the basic recipe out of the cooks at a Bombay House in Calgary.

You can do this a few ways, all equally yummy.

Most Indian restaurants use left over (not old, just from yesterday) Tandoori Chicken. No point in wasting delicious Tandoori and what better use than butter chicken?

Tandoori Chicken:
2 roasting chickens (because SuperStore sells 'em that way)
1/2 cup plain yoghurt - or mango yoghurt
2 TBSP Tandoori Paste (SuperStore always has it as will your local Indian Spice shop).

Rinse the chicken and pat dry
Mix the Tandoori Paste with the yoghurt and set aside for a minute
Score the chicken's skin in several places and then rub the birds with the paste. Put them in a large container that can be covered and let them sit for a couple hours in the fridge.

Set your oven to 450 degrees. When hot, cook the chickens until their juices run clear. Depending on their sizes, this should take 30 - 40 minutes. If they're slightly underdone, it is not a problem - they're going into a hot sauce where they will cook further. DON'T discard that yummy juice.

If you want to make a fast version of Butter Chicken, use fresh or defrosted chicken breasts cut into reasonably bit-sized pieces; coat them in the yoghurt/Tandoori paste and set them in the fridge while you make the rest of the base.

Butter Chicken.
My recipe has onions, which is not traditional but which is very, very yummy.

Peel one large onion. Cut in half, place the flat side down and slice thinly.
Heat a LARGE skillet to medium high; add 1/8th cup butter and yes, I do mean butter. Thou shalt not skimp or worry about calories with this recipe.
Let the onions lightly brown - very lightly and then reduce the heat to low. When the heat is reduced, add 1 TBSP water and cover. Let the onions cook down and caremelise. This will take about 1/2 an hour - stir occasionally.

In the meantime, you're going to rip all the meat off the bones of one of those chickens you cooked. Cut the meat into large but still reasonably manageable pieces. Set aside.

Once your onions are lovely, carmely brown, bring the heat back up to medium and add 1 TSP of coriander and cumin
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 - 1/2 tsp hot chilli flakes, ground up
2 packed TBSP brown sugar - the darker the better.
Also add 3/4 cup butter. Yup. 3/4 cup.
Next, add 1 - 5 ounce container of tomato paste. It's good to have another one on hand, just in case you really like your BC tomato-y.

Stir this all up so it's smooth and drop in the cut up chicken - you can add some of that nice chicken juice in too. Stir it all up so the chicken is nicely coated.

It'll have started smelling delicious by now... best to have a glass of nice Indian beer beside you or wine. Wine is always good. Red, by the way. White will die next to this stuff.

Lastly, add 1/2 - 3/4 Litre of whipping cream - yes, that's the really, really fattening stuff; 33% milk fat... Ok. I conceed; you can use 1/2 litre wipping and 1/4 litre 10% or you can just use 18%. But seriously, you've gone this far and there's all that butter... may as well buy the whole farm, yes?

Give this all a really good stir up so everything is nicely incorporated and turn the heat down to low, low, low. You can let this all sit now and if you have time to let it sit for an hour, so much the better.

While all the flavours are getting to know each other and make 'babies,' get your basmatti rice on. This too has butter... Check the package directions for quantities as per the number of people you're feeding.

Heat a saucepan to medium high: add 2 TBSP butter (or ghee if you have it), three green corriander pods if you have 'em and maybe a dash of safron; then add the rice. Stir to coat.

Add in boiling water and cover (or you can add hot tap water, bring to the boil over high heat); reduce heat to very low and let the rice steam for about 18 minutes. Don't lift that lid there, Oh Curious One... give it at least 15 minutes and then you can check it, ok? Once it's done, take it off the heat and leave the lid off to let the remaining steam escape.

If you want some vegetables, and you should have some vegetables you can cook them in coconut milk - same as using water, really only way, way yummier. I use frozen veg, as they're parboiled and don't need as long to cook. If you put your veg on right after you get the rice going, all this is gonna happen pretty much together.

NOW GO LOCK YOUR DOORS. I'm serious. Once people start smelling this stuff, they're gonna come knocking.

Serve butter chicken with a ladle over the hot rice with veg on the side.

FYI, I dry my own chillies. It's easy. Buy four or five fresh chillis - jalapenos are great; get out some string and tie the chillis onto the string at intervals far enough apart that the chillies don't touch each other. Hang in a sunny window (yeah, I know. It's winter...).. in about 2 weeks, you'll have dried red chillis. Crush 'em up (wear rubber gloves and don't touch your eyes or nose) and store in an airtight container.

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