There is a fine line, they say, between bravery and stupidity. I am not sure which side of the line I fall on, having just cooked and indulged in this butter chicken at the end of what has been a weekend of culinary excess.
It started with dinner on Friday evening at a lovely Thai restaurant. I am not a big fan of chain restaurants. Typically, they lack character and there tends to be undue emphasis in the kitchen and decor on uniformity, rather than on distinctiveness and personality.
Busaba though is an exception I think, and as usual, we had a delightful meal. The pandan chicken and morning glory starters were highlights as was the Southern fish curry, which my brother, the seafood hater, cannot stop raving about.
That was followed by the streetfood of Portobello Market yesterday for lunch and dinner at Cantina Lerado, neither of which disappointed. Of course, Portfobello Market was cheap and cheerful, whereas we left with lighter wallets at the end of our meal at Cantina Lerado. Given all of this context, I am not sure if Butter Chicken for dinner on a Sunday evening was brave or stupid. In any case, it was delicious, if on the heavy side of the spectrum. This is a really easy recipe, and my go-to recipe when I can't think of anything more innovative for a dinner party. We mopped it up with some naan, but I am sure it would go equally well with some hot rotis.
The first ever homemade version of butter chicken that I tried was at the home of a good friend, Aditi. In an impressive menu, the particularly impressive butter chicken really stood out, and it is her recipe that I extracted from her soon after over a meal in our office canteen, that this recipe is derived from. Do try it out!
500 gms chicken on the bone (skinned)
for the marinade
2 tbsp yoghurt
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
a few drops of lemon juice
for the gravy
1 + 1 tbsp butter (see below)
1 inch stick of cinnamon
2-3 cardamon pods
400 grams tomato puree
3 heaped tbsp kasuri methi
4 tbsp ginger paste
4 tbsp garlic paste
250 ml double cream
Marinate the chicken overnight ideally, but as I was short of time, I fast forwarded to just an hour and it turned out alright. In a pan, heat 1 tbsp butter and add the chicken. Cover and cook on low heat for around 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the gravy, heat 1 tbsp butter and add the whole spices. Stir for a minute or two till fragrant. Next add the ginger garlic pastes and cook till done. Now add the tomato puree and kasuri methi. Turn up the heat a little and cook, stirring continuously, until the moisture evaporates. This should take around 10 minutes or so. Now add the chicken, and let it combine with the gravy. Simmer for around 5 minutes. Switch off the heat and finally, add the cream. Add salt to taste. If the gravy feels too thick or rich, add a little water to taste and adjust the salt accordingly.
Finish with chopped corainder, and if you are feeling brave or stupid, depending on how you look at it, a small (or large) pat of butter. Serve with hot rotis or naan.