Can you believe I had never tried Indian food until after college? I know, I totally missed out. My first experience with Indian food was when I was living in Washington, DC. My friend was visiting me from out of town and we decided to be adventurous. It was the best choice we could have made. We both thoroughly enjoyed our dinner and Indian cuisine was no longer a mystery.
I had Butter Chicken (or Chicken Makhani) for the first time when my former boss, who was Indian, invited me over for dinner at his house. I had tried to look up a few other Indian dish recipes in the past but they seemed too complicated for me at the time and required too many spices I wasn’t familiar with. For whatever reason, this particular Butter Chicken recipe didn’t seem as intimidating. This dish has just the right amount of spice, creaminess and tanginess. With a few tweaks, you can make it as spicy, creamy or tangy as you wish. The combination really appeals to me and the best part is that my kids love it! I typically serve it with long grain rice and Indian naan bread, which I buy at my local grocery store. I also add samosas (Indian fried pastry with savory filling), which I get either fresh made from an Indian grocery store or frozen packaged from Trader Joe’s or Costco).
Butter Chicken Recipe (Chicken Makhani)
1 tablespoon peanut oil (I use vegetable oil.)
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken
thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Saute shallot and onion until soft and translucent. Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in halfand-half and yogurt. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat, and season with 1 teaspoon garam masala and cayenne. Stir in a few spoonfuls of sauce, and simmer until liquid has reduced, and chicken is no longer pink. Stir cooked chicken into sauce.
3. Mix together cornstarch and water, then stir into the sauce. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until thickened. (Note: I forego this step because the sauce is thick enough for my liking even without the cornstarch mixture.)
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