Butter Chicken and an Aromatic Indian Dinner
Last weekend I had so much fun preparing an Indian dinner for our oldest son’s Christmas present. We have been trying to schedule this event for some time now and finally got a date that worked. Our son values relationships more than things, a quality I greatly admire, but it sure makes it hard at Christmas when you are trying to figure out what to get him! I knew he enjoyed food from a local Indian restaurant, but he doesn’t like gift cards so I came up with the idea of making him an Indian dinner. I have never even cooked Indian food before, so it was a very interesting project for me. I had a great time going through various blogs that I follow, learning about Indian dishes and deciding what to cook. Fortunately, we have an Asian grocery store just a couple of miles from our house which made it pretty easy to locate the spices that I needed for the recipes.
It was hard to decide what to cook as there are so many great recipes out there. I finally went with Butter Chicken, Daal Tadka, Saag Paneer, Basmati Rice, Naan, and a spiced pudding similar to flan for dessert. We also ate chana chaat for an appetizer and drank chai tea. I was trying to find recipes from all different regions of India. Just as in America, different sections have their specialties or different way of cooking things, so does India. I realized later, it was probably like making tacos, grits, bar-b-qed ribs, lobster, and gumbo all in one meal if I had picked different dishes from the states! 🙂 But it was a great learning experience, and I think we all enjoyed it. Thankfully I have a very helpful mom who came over and helped me cook as I think we might not have eaten until midnight if she hadn’t!
I would say the thing that was the most fun for me was learning about a whole new set of spices that I wasn’t familiar with. All day long, the most wonderful smells wafted through our house. Everyone kept coming in the kitchen wondering what was cooking and commenting on how good it smelled. I think my favorite was the garam masala. It was also fun working with some whole spices like cardamom and nutmeg. I was supposed to grind them up in a mortar and pestle, but I didn’t have one so used the next best thing – a hammer and a baggy! 🙂 I don’t recommend it!
The best thing about cooking with a whole new set of ingredients is I have some new favorite recipes! Oh, you guys, the naan! Where have you been all my life? It is so buttery and just melts in your mouth. I could have eaten the whole batch myself.
Unfortunately Fortunately, there were other people around, and I had to share. Stay tuned for this recipe in an upcoming post.
And, now I have a new favorite way to fix chicken. I’m always looking for new chicken recipes, and this butter chicken is so delicious! If you don’t mind spicy, you will love it. And when I say spicy, I really mean spicy! Pairing it with the basmati rice makes it not as hot, though, and even though we could feel the heat as it went down, both my husband and I practically licked our plates. I have made the butter chicken twice now (in the same week because we liked it so much), and discovered there is a big difference in chili powder and red chili powder. Chili powder is a common spice in the states used in chili beans and all kinds of other foods. I used this the first time, and the chicken was really good, but not very spicy. When I went to the Asian store, I ran across red chili powder which the recipe I used specifically called for. I didn’t realize they weren’t the same, but they are not. When I used the red chili powder, it became a whole other dish, more spicy, but closer to the original recipe. We liked it much better so I recommend locating the red chili powder if at all possible and having lots of water available to drink while eating it!
In conclusion, I highly recommend cooking with new ingredients and spices and trying new recipes. It will give you a new excitement for cooking and fill your home with wonderful aromas! You will also learn a lot in the process. This is what I learned:
- Garam Masala smells and tastes delicious.
- I can’t cook and take pictures at the same time (but I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, so I should have known that).
- Green cardamom and black cardamom are not the same. Use green for sweet things.
- American chili powder and Asian red chili powder are 2 completely different ingredients.
- It might be good to invest in a mortar and pestle.
- Giving gifts of time for Christmas is a great option and more fun in the long run.
- I have a lot to learn about Indian cooking, but it sure will be a delicious process!
For the Marinade:
- 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 1 pkg. Foster Farm’s Thin Cut Chicken Breasts)
- 1/2 c plain yogurt
- 1 tsp. regular chili powder
- 1 tsp. garam masala powder
- 1 tsp. ginger garlic paste (found in local Asian market)
- salt to taste
For the Sauce:
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. canola oil
- 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 tsp. ginger garlic paste
- 1 1/2 tsp. red chili powder (make sure it says red – not the same as chili powder)
- 1 tsp. garam masala powder
- 2 1/2 tsp. sugar
- salt to taste
- 2 large tomatoes, pureed in blender
- 1/4 c cream
- 1 Tbsp. kasuri methi, crushed (found in local Asian market)
- 1 to 1 1/2 c water (I used 1 in order to have a thicker sauce)
- Marinate the chicken in above mentioned ingredients 15 to 20 minutes to overnight (I marinated it overnight).
- Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a frying pan and place the marinated chicken in a single layer and cook them on medium high until chicken is browned on all sides. Set aside.
- In a large deep skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. oil and 3 Tbsp. butter on low heat until butter melts.
- Add in cumin seeds, cook 1 minute, then add in chopped onions. Saute on medium low heat stirring often so seeds don’t burn until onion is soft and tender.
- Add in ginger garlic paste and saute for 2 to 3 minutes stirring often until cooked. Watch carefully so garlic doesn’t burn.
- Add in the red chili powder, garam masala powder, salt, and sugar. Mix well and cook for 30 seconds.
- Pour in the tomato puree and mix well. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Let the mixture cool.
- When cool, blend the tomato mixture in the blender until smooth.
- Return tomato mixture back to the pan, and pour in required amount of water (I used 1 cup).
- Add in chicken pieces and cook on low heat until chicken gets cooked completely for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Once chicken is cooked, add the crushed Kasuri Methi and cream. Simmer for another 5 minutes on low heat.
- Switch off the flame and add in the coriander leaves. Serve immediately over rice if desired with lots of water to drink!
- Refrigerate any leftovers.
Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally by Savory and Sweet Food