The quest for Butter Chicken

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.

Butter Chicken

1 tbsp oil
6 3/4 inch cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
6 cloves
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.


Megan said...

That recipe had me until I saw the cinnamon.I don't like cinnamon or nutmeg in savory dishes. Otherwise it looks really tasty. And 2.5 out of 4 is a pretty good ratio.

BTW - the pasta e fagioli al forno was really good. Just make more white sauce than you think you'll need - otherwise the pasta will be dry. And beware - the recipe makes ALOT!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I'd say 2.5 out of 4 is making it. That you have any little one who will eat all those spices I say way to go!
Personally I think it looks excellent!

BC said...

We love butter chicken too and the stuff fromthe jar does not quite cut it.

Punjabi Chef said...

Hi this a good recipe, although I rarely use cardamom in curries some Indians do. I would probably reduce the pods by half. Prob reduce the cloves/cinnamon and up the garam masala and even a tumeric a bit. Some cayenne or hot paprika wouldnt hurt. The other thing is the addition of a few TBs of full fat yogurt, sour cream, or both near the end of cooking. Other variations are using fresh diced tomatoes, or some tomato paste/sauce along with crushed. Also a bay leaf can be used although some is already in the garam masala.