Friday, January 29, 2010

Oh My Dickens, It's Butter Chicken

After Brian went to Shanghai several years ago for work, he fell in love with Indian food. Yeah, I was surprised, too. I expected a new love for egg rolls, maybe--but Tandoori Chicken?

We got to work after he returned, learning how to make certain dishes. I got a cookbook, and we tested a few recipes. It was daunting, as the recipes listed were multi-step with many ingredients...some I had never heard of. However, we had a great time cooking together and we developed a new appreciation for Indian Fare.

One day, I stumbled upon this Food Network recipe and it's gooooood. And amazingly easy. Have you tasted Chicken Tikka Masala? This is very similar.

One of the key characters in Indian cooking is a spice blend called Garam Masala. You can buy the ingredients, grind them up, and mix them into your own spice jar. Or, you can visit your local India store and find a very affordable package of it. I suggest the latter, as it is a treat for the senses to browse through the aisles surrounded by thick, swirling tones of cumin, coriander, and cardamom. Beautiful, resonating chimes fill your drums. The vast array of produce is a party for the eyes. It's really something to see the beauty of foods from other cultures.

This recipe was submitted by Carla Fitzgerald Williams, and she recommends using rotisserie chicken, as it "stands in quite well for the original tandoori chicken in this version of the simple north Indian dish...meltingly tender". I couldn't agree more. She suggests pairing this dish with spinach, quickly cooked in oil and garlic, however, we usually can't resist a jaunt to our nearby Indian restaurant for a couple of orders of garlic and lamb naan.

If you've never had the privilege of trying Indian fare, this is the perfect dish to get you started.

Butter Chicken

Spice Blend:
1 Tablespoon garam masala seasoning
1-1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne

3 Tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14-1/2 oz) can diced tomatos in juice
1 skinless rotisserie chicken, boned out and pulled into chunks
1-10 oz box of frozen peas, placed in a colander and run under hot water to thaw
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

hot basmati rice for serving
pita bread, warmed (though I suggest going for that naan bread instead!)

To make the spice blend: Stir the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the pieces just begin to turn gold--about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste and spice blend, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning. The spices will be fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and stir well. Add the chicken pieces, spoon the sauce over the top and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is warmed through and the sauce is flavorful, about 10 minutes.

Stir frequently. Shake any excess water from the peas. Add the peas and cream to the sauce in the pan. Stir well and heat through. Do not boil. Spoon the sauce over the chicken. Serve over rice.

Note: I generally use only a small portion of the chicken, saving the rest for other meals or soups. The Wieber's like lots of sauce and we don't like sharing it with the chicken! :o)

Note on feeding the kids: While this dish, like many Indian dishes, is too spicy for our girls, the ingredients are such that they provide a well-balanced meal. Simply reserve portions of it before mixing together in the skillet. Save out some of the chicken, then serve it alongside the plain basmati rice, peas, and naan bread.

Warning: your home will smell WONDERFUL while cooking this dish. Remember when I mentioned the fragrant delights in an Indian market? This is a small piece of that heaven.

Enjoy! And please share some of your Indian dishes with us!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love Indian cooking and I adore spicey food so this recipe ticks all the boxes for me.


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