Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Butter Chicken

Mr Minx and I made a trip to Patel Brothers Indian grocery in Catonsville and found the place to be very clean, organized, and well-stocked with a plethora of ingredients from the Subcontinent. Among the things we bought was a bag of curry leaves, because it seemed that every recipe I wanted to try called for them. Of course, when we got home and I flipped through my favorite Indian cookbook, Camellia Punjabi's 50 Great Curries of India, I couldn't find a single recipe that required them. At least, none that also required ingredients already on hand. So I do what I usually do and improvised.

Butter chicken, or murgh makhani, seemed the simplest dish to alter. It required fresh tomatoes, but I substituted tomato paste. Chopped cilantro and curry leaves, plus ground fenugreek, replaced the fenugreek leaves called for. We also had a fresh pineapple in the house, so I used part of it in a pineapple curry.

And it was all so seriously good, I had a hard time believing that I had made it with my own two hands.

Butter-y Chicken Adapted from 50 Great Curries of India

1 cup plain yogurt, drained in a sieve or a piece of cheesecloth for about half an hour
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1" fresh ginger, grated finely
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 lb bone in, skin off chicken thighs
canola oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon fresh curry leaves, cut into a chiffonade
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, torn into small pieces
1 oz half and half or light cream
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1 tablespoon cold butter

Combine first nine ingredients in a bowl. Add chicken and mix to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour and up to overnight.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons or so of canola oil, then the onions. Cook onions until wilted and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken with its marinade. Cover pan and cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, turning chicken occasionally. Remove lid and stir in tomato paste, curry leaves and cilantro. Cook an additional 20 minutes before stirring in cream, garam masala and fenugreek. Just before serving, turn off heat and stir in cold butter.

Serve with hot basmati rice, pineapple curry, cucumber raita, and warm naan bread.

Pineapple Curry

1/2 cup onion, sliced
canola oil
pinch salt
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder (I like Penzey's Sweet)
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
pinch cayenne
freshly ground black pepper

Over medium heat, saute onions in a tablespoon or so of canola oil and a pinch of salt until they begin to brown. Stir in brown sugar and curry powder. Cook an additional minute or so, stirring constantly. Add pineapple, cover pan, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add a pinch of cayenne and some black pepper. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

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