Butter Chicken

For my __th birthday, friends of mine arranged for a real life Indian woman to visit our house and cook some curries with me. Many, many years ago, I was assured by our long lost friend Indian Dave that I would love Butter Chicken, but had never yet tried it. This happened to be one of the dishes that she cooked with me. It’s gone through a lot of tweaks since then, and I now regard it amongst my top level dishes.

Preferably marinate your meat overnight. You can really taste the flavours in the meat, and it also makes the making of the curry very simple on the day of the cooking. If you find it fiddly mixing the dry ingredients with the yoghurt, try smudging them in to a paste in one corner first to avoid spice / flour lumps, before gradually incorporating more of the yoghurt in to your stirring. The flour is optional and is used to soak up a bit of the liquid that separates from the yoghurt in the pan as the result of high heat, and I refrain from using whole spices to keep the curry smooth. Prepare the marinade in a sealable container, submerge your chicken and store in the fridge.

Start by soaking the flaked almonds / cashews in warm water (alternatively, buy ground almonds), and by frying your onion ’til soft for blending. You can get your rice on while the onion is cooling down, I can recommend a sultana, cardamom and cumin seed combination. Blend your cooked onions, add to the pot and begin cooking in oil / ghee on a medium heat, then drain and blend your almonds with a little milk. Add the chicken and marinade to the pot and turn the pieces until each side has whitened. Add the blended almonds, passata, salt and sugar (optional), and bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat. I tend to try different amounts of milk, passata, chilli, salt and sugar each time, and I love this dish in all its versions and consistencies. You can also use up spare cream in this curry, but I feel it dulls the flavours a bit, and prefer to use milk. Try 100ml of passata to start with, and taste as you go. Whenever the curry looks a bit thick, add a little milk. Once cooked through, if using cream add and bring to the boil briefly. You can then reduce the curry down to your desired thickness before serving. The dry scrapings of the pot also taste delicious, don’t waste a bit.

Recipe

1 ½ Tbsp yoghurt

Tsp ground cumin

Tsp ground coriander

Pinch ground chilli

2 Cloves grated garlic

Tsp grated ginger

½ Tsp flour

Tbsp oil

–          Mix.

1 Diced chicken breast

–          Marinate.

½ Pre-cooked blended onion

–          Fry on medium heat for a few minutes.

Chicken and marinade

–          Fry on medium heat until meat is sealed.

2 Tbsp blended / ground almonds in milk

100ml Passata

Pinch salt

Tsp sugar

–          Bring to the boil then simmer on low heat for 10+ minutes (the longer the better), occasionally stirring and adding milk to maintain consistency.

25ml single or double cream

–          Bring to the boil then simmer on low until desired thickness is reached. Garnish with coriander leaves.

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