Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani)

 

So here’s the thing. I’m still a little bitter that I can’t really get good Indian restaurant flavor at home. I know I could build a tandoor in a lot of places, but my condo just doesn’t have the right kind of space to do it safely. We barely have a place for a grill! So I struggle to get flavor that’s good enough for it to be worthwhile but easy enough to make without pulling my hair out (or dirtying up more than half the kitchen). This hits the balance pretty well — not too difficult (especially if you buy the right canned tomato product), flavorful, tender, even fairly quick. My roommates seemed to enjoy it as well — my hopes for leftovers to eat for lunch were dashed! Ah well.

I made one mistake with mine — no raisins. They provide an excellent counterpoint to the sharp acidity of the tomato and lemon and the tang of the yogurt. Don’t let your raisins dry out to a state of rocky unusability! Take it from me!

Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani), adapted from Too Many Chefs

3 Tbsp. butter
4-5 shallots
5-6 chicken tenders and a chicken thigh or two*
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated or minced fine
1 Tbsp. garlic, grated
1 Tbsp. garam masala
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. hot paprika
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. water
1 1/2 c. (1 can, ish) tomato puree
1/4 c. plain yogurt
2/3 c. cream
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.

Halve the shallots and slice them thin. Put them in the butter to soften — about 6-8 minutes — and cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Once the onions are soft, remove them from the pot, leaving as much of the butter behind as possible. Crank up the heat and add the chicken, salting it and then letting it brown while you grate the ginger and garlic and measure the rest of the spices. (And, um, puree your tomatoes if you accidentally bought diced ones.)

Once the chicken is browned, add the garlic, ginger and spices; stir them around in the pan until your kitchen smells a bit like an Indian restaurant. Add the water and scrape the delicious browned bits off the bottom of the pan, then add the tomatoes and lemon juice and drop the heat. Put on some basmati rice at about this point, and then taste the sauce for spices — you may need more paprika, or salt and pepper, or what have you. (Don’t go too light on the salt — it’s an important flavor enhancer for everything else, as well as providing seasoning itself.)

When the rice is about done, take a few tablespoons of the tomato sauce and mix them into the yogurt and cream, then mix the yogurt and cream back into the pot. Add the raisins, cilantro and almonds and taste for seasoning again. Let it simmer for another minute or two, until the rice is ready, and serve over said rice.

*Yes, that’s what I had in the freezer. This is a good way to use up meat that may be a wee bit freezerburned.

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~ by iliadawry on 6 August 2012.

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