Butter chicken is a favored meal in my house. Third, sometimes even second, for my children on their all time favorite list for dinners. The only problem with that is that they seem to prefer a butter chicken sauce that comes from a jar, filled with too much sodium and who knows what else.
Not my idea of a healthy way to feed my family, though good in a pinch. Sauté some chicken, pour on a jar or two, while the rice steams, heat up the naan bread and make a quick veggie. Quick, easy, everyone will eat it, but not what I want.
Enter this recipe, a real butter chicken recipe, given to me by a friend, another Mom that I see regularly at school for child drop off and pick up. A friend from India, with family and roots, and a knowledge of what real butter chicken should be.
Unfortunately reactions to this were mixed: I loved it, the husband said, "It's butter chicken (he's not fond of chicken), but the best one so far." The youngest inhaled it, and the oldest ate the chicken but touched nothing else - the sauce was on his rice and he doesn't like the sauce so he would not eat his rice.
I guess 2.5 out of4 isn't too bad.
1 tbsp oil
6 3/4 inch cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1 1/2 tsp crushed ginger
2 lbs chicken, skinned, in small pieces (I used boneless, skinless chicken breast, it is what I had)
1/4 cup butter
2 cups crushed/canned tomatoes
5 tbsp crushed, fried onions (I didn't find these so used dried onion pieces instead, and it worked)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp garam masala
It is important that you have your mise en place ready before starting this recipe!
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves and cumin seeds. Sauté for 1/2 minute. Stir in garlic and ginger, sauté for another 1/2 minute. Add chicken and butter and cook until chicken is half cooked, about 5-10 minutes. Add more butter if he chicken has very little fat or seems dry.
Add tomatoes, onions, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric and salt to chicken. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes to finish cooking the chicken.
Add 1 tbsp of the cilantro leaves. Continue to cook until the chicken is tender and the oil begins to separate. Add the garam masala and remaining cilantro.
Serve with warm Naan bread.