I love butter chicken. In fact, I don’t know of many people who don’t. It’s the sort of lunch or dinner or midnight snack that’s happiness-inducing. There are few foods I really crave anymore, but butter chicken is one of them. Sometimes give in and go fulfill my desires an east Indian lunch buffet where I almost always shame myself on the stuff, with fresh naan.
Contrary to its name, butter chicken doesn’t generally contain actual butter. Heavy cream, yes. It’s rich and wonderful and velvety, but not typically buttery. I made a batch recently, in response to a Facebook request to lighten a recipe that had – gasp – 1 cup of butter and 3 cups of whipping cream! This time, rather than overthink things or turn to my (still totally disorganized) bookshelf or laptop in search of what (some may claim as) the ultimate recipe, I just did it.
Onions and chicken and tomatoes and spices – I might have been making cacciatore if it weren’t for the curry paste and splash of cream at the end. It was easy. And fast. And used up ingredients I usually have in the freezer and pantry. And made just enough to feed everyone, which is a far better idea than the bottomless steam insert of the buffet.
And when I said we were having butter chicken for dinner, there was a lot of grinning and maybe even some jumping up and down. I may do this again sometime.
And next time, make a batch of fresh naan to go with. Think of the glee!
canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
6-8 skinless chicken thighs (with or without bone)
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 28 oz. (796 mL) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1-2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. curry paste or powder
1-2 tsp. garam masala (optional)
1/2-1 cup half & half or whipping cream
salt and pepper
steamed rice, for serving
In a large, heavy skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute for 5 minutes, until soft. Add the chicken thighs, pushing the onions out of the way, and brown them a bit on all sides – don’t worry about cooking them through. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or two.
Add the can of tomatoes, the tomato paste, chili powder, curry paste, garam masala and cinnamon and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the lid and cook until the mixture thickens and looks more saucy and uniform.
Stir in the cream, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve hot over rice. Serves 4-6.
January 19 2012 10:48 pm | chicken & turkey