So the first time I remember trying butter chicken was one of the times I went with @genevrael and The Bearded One to Remedy Cafe in Edmonton. His Nibs claims I had it before that, but he also claims I’ve seen that movie I don’t remember having seen, like, three times. So. Really, there’s no way of knowing whether or not that was the first time I’d had it.
One of the reasons I’ve not been a huge fan of Indian food is because cilantro. Cilantro is a horrible substance that makes you want to dig out your own tongue with someone’s used IUD. If Al Quaeda really wanted to destroy western civilisation, they’d just put cilantro in our high fructose corn syrup, and then everyone would be so incapacitated with sugar withdrawal that the insurrectionists could just walk on in and do whatever they wanted. Cilantro. World-ending herb.
(Strangely, I love parsley, which is closely related to The Devil’s Buttwipe [my pet name for cilantro]. Even more strangely, my co-worker, Captain D, once told me that yes, he can taste the soapiness when he eats cilantro, but that he doesn’t mind it. I don’t know what kind of kid Captain D was, but clearly he’s wound up with some kind of Stockholm Syndrome from having his mouth washed out with soap so often that he likes the soapy taste.)
ANYWAY. After I had that butter chicken that I remember having, I started trying butter chicken all over the place. Most of it is, you know, okay. But none of it has been as good as Remedy’s. And, as with many things, when I try something that I really really like and find myself ordering it more than twice at different restaurants, I often try to make it at home. So I started looking up butter chicken recipes. All of them called for this thing called garam masala. I didn’t know what that was. And I certainly didn’t have it in my spice cupboard. So I made it. And to sound even MORE like Mrs. Stewart, which is quite funny if you know me, I also grind most of my spices from whole …uh…spices. I think if you find a spice blend that you like, you should stick with it.
1 c butter
1 medium onion, chopped fine or minced (my boys don’t like chunks of onion)
7-8 cloves garlic
1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped finely or grated
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1-2 c tomato sauce (I make mine using tomato paste and chicken broth)
2-3 c heavy cream or 1 c thick yoghurt & 2 c half and half
salt to taste
2-4 skinless (boneless) chicken breasts or thighs
4 tbsp oil (I use coconut oil)
2 tbsp tandoori masala
What to Do:
- Wash chicken and pat dry. Cut into bite-size pieces and toss with oil. Lay chicken pieces on a baking stone and coat with tandoori masala. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until chicken is white throughout but still tender. Set aside when finished.
- While chicken is cooking, sauté onions in 2-4 tbsp butter over medium heat, until onions caramelize; set aside
- Mince garlic and make a paste with ginger and a little of the melted butter from the onion. Set aside.
- Melt remaining butter over medium heat. When it bubbles, but before it turns brown, add garlic ginger paste, cayenne, and garam masala. Cook for about 1 minute.
- Add tomato sauce, cream, and salt. Allow to simmer. Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add carmelized onions and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add chicken pieces and simmer for 25 minutes or until ready to serve.
This is especially good with fresh, warm naan. This recipe is good when fresh, but it’s EXCEPTIONAL when you refrigerate it overnight and heat it up in a slow cooker or in a saucepan the next day. It seems to do well after resting to allow the full robustness of the …um… robustible thingummies to…er…robust.
coriander (about 1/3 the amount of cumin)
cardamom (about 1/3 the amount of cumin)
cinnamon (about 1/4 the amount of cumin)
cloves (about 1/8 the amount of cumin)
nutmeg (about 1/8 the amount of cumin)
peppercorns (I don’t put a lot in because I’m not fond of peppercorns)
a pinch of turmeric
a pinch of paprika
crushed bay leaf
When I made this spice, I mixed up enough to fill a spice bottle, then roasted the whole spices together until they got aromatic, then I ground them up with a mortar and pestle.
ground coriander (about 1/2 the amount of garam masala)
paprika (about 1/2 the amount of garam masala)
fenugreek seeds (a little less than 1/2 the amount of garam masala)
turmeric (about 1/4 the amount of garam masala)
a pinch of chili powder
I don’t roast the tandoori masala.
These spices keep well for about a month if you keep them in an airtight container.