Butter Chicken – This Time It’s For Real
Before I started Blogging here at 5×2 I had another blog called the Mike/Mitch project. There was a lot of cooking and it was fun, but the cooking really started with my quest to replicate Moti’s butter chicken, otherwise known as the Butter Chicken Battle. It has been a while since my last attempt, but not too long ago I got my hands on a copy of the recipe the Moti’s cookbook. A friend of mine from Tokyo promised it too me early on in my quest and he was finally able to get it translated from Japanese. As you can imagine I was pretty excited to try it out.
Part I: The Cooking
Like any other task you need to practice to stay at the top of your game. I have been cooking this year, but close to the amount I was last year. I started by reading the recipe several times and while all of the ingredients were familiar the recipe had very specific directions on when to add things. I found myself once again converting from milliliters and grams to ounces and cups. Which turned out to be too much for my brain because I tried to double the recipe and I realized towards the end that I didn’t actually have enough of one ingredient. I ran out of butter. I had probably about 80% of what I needed. I consoled myself by adding a little extra cream, but it seemed a pretty big gaff given the name of the dish. I surprised myself by not panicking and I’m hopeful that no one noticed. Along with the recipe for Butter Chicken I also had the Moti recipe for Tandori chicken, which is suggested for the chicken, but not required. Again I made a classic cooking error by not allowing enough time for the chicken to marinate. It should really sit in the spices overnight, but I had company coming so I plowed ahead with just a few hours of marinating. I don’t think it hurt anything. I had my son Max poke hundreds of holes in the meat with a fork to help the spices mix into the meat faster. After the meat was mostly cooked in a 350° oven I started making the sauce. Despite my mistakes I was trying to be as true to the recipe as possible so instead of pureeing the tomatoes ahead of time I cut them into chunks and sautéed them in oil, cinnamon, and cardamom while crushing them with the back of my spoon. The results were better than I hoped and when I strained out the skins I found that I hadn’t lost very much of the tomatoes. It was quite a bit more work than 30 seconds in the food processor, but it was satisfying to see the sauce form. Once the tomatoes where mostly crushed I added some butter, Garam Masala, Chili powder, and salt and brought to a simmer. After straining the sauce I added cream and milk and simmered some more. Then more butter. Simmer. Add the meat. More cream and some paprika. Simmer some more. And done.
Part II: The Eating
I tasted the curry several times along the way and despite the chili powder and hot paprika it was never much more than mild. I knew early on that I had added too much cinnamon and/or cardamom for my taste. The rice was a little wetter than I like, but it still worked as a vehicle for the sauce, which there was plenty of – something that isn’t always true when we make a boxed butter chicken. Kira voted this one the best so far (other than Shan‘s). I enjoyed it and after having it for lunch a couple of times I really liked it.
I’d say second or third place, but I want to try this again with less sweet spices and the right amount of butter. It was great to be cooking something again.
Other dish I made:
I made a cucumber salad as a side dish which I thought went quite well with the meal.
1 lb Chicken, breast 1 stick whole cinnamon (or 1/2 tsp less if you are like me and don’t want it to be so sweet)
2 tomatoes 4 seeds cardamom, ground
4 Tbsp veg. oil 1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 c butter (1 stick) 1 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tbsp salt 1 Tbsp Garam Masala
1 c heavy cream
3/4 c milk
Pre-cook the chicken breast by either steaming, par boiling or grilling and cut into bite size pieces. If you are able, prepare Tandoori Chicken to add a deeper and spicier flavor to the butter chicken. If preparing the chicken Tandoori style, make sure the chicken is boneless and cut into bite size pieces.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan. Roughly chop tomatoes into chunks and add to frying pan. Add cinnamon and cardamom.
- While sautéing on high heat, crush the tomato chunks with spatula.
- Add half the butter, salt, chili powder and Garam Masala and sauté until the butter is completely melted.
- Remove the sauce from the pan and strain through to make a smooth sauce. Return to pan.
- Simmer on med heat for two minutes.
- Add half the heavy cream and all the milk and simmer to a light boil.
- Add another 1/4 heavy cream and remaining butter and bring back to a light boil.
- Add the chicken and stir to coat the meat.
- Add the paprika, and remaining heavy cream, turn off the heat and mix the sauce and chicken.
- Place the butter chicken on a plate or in a bowl, add a drizzle of heavy cream on top in a circular motion and serve with naan and rice.