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Spice heaven

Posted Feb 02 2013 1:00am
Ever since I can remember I have always loved spicy food. Narrowing that category down, my favorites have been Thai and Indian because the spices in the dishes have always been so flavorful and complex. Back in Auckland my parents had slowly started to introduce various ethnic cuisines to me and my brother. One of the first places we tried was an Indian restaurant close to home. This is where I fell in love with butter chicken (murgh makhani). 

On the menu: aloo gobi, butter chicken, and brown Basmati rice
I look for it everywhere but many of the versions I've tried here in the U.S. have been very red and the taste was not quite as nutty and rich as I first remembered it being. I came across a Chicago food blog ( What's Cookin, Chicago? ) whose recipe utilized ground cashews, and I knew this recipe was gonna get me closer to my favorite version of butter chicken than many other restaurants could ever do.

I decided to prepare this as part of a dinner for some of my friends before we headed out to a Mardi Gras parade last weekend. This recipe is very easy to follow and as long as you make sure you do not omit any spice listed this will yield a creamy, flavorful, and spicy (however much you can handle) dish. There was definitely none left by the end of the evening. Adding some dried fenugreek leaves would also give the dish a more authentic flavor.

 Some papadums and raita to go with the butter chicken and aloo gobi.

I hope you like this recipe as much as I do. This is so much easier than I thought it would be (definitely just as long as you have all of your spices out, measured, and ready to go in the pot), so much so that I could never bring myself to make any curry from a jar ever! I like my butter chicken spicy so I've included the spice adjustments I've made in the recipe below. The original recipe is here , and another version I'd like to try is here . I can't wait to make this again and this time devour it all by myself. 

***
Butter Chicken

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cayenne pepper

Sauce:
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 white onion, chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste (or 1 tbsp minced ginger and garlic)
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp tomato paste dissolved in 2 cups water
1 pinch salt1 pinch black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
1/2 cup ground cashews + extra for sprinkling
1-2 tbsp flour or cornstarch

Directions:
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and season with garam masala and cayenne. Cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by heating 1 tbsp oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Saute onion until soft and translucent. Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and water mixture and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in cream, yogurt and cilantro. Reduce heat to low, and add the browned chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cayenne if you want it to be spicier. Just before serving, add the ground cashews and stir. If you wish the sauce to be thicker add the flour. Sprinkle with extra ground cashews if desired. Serve over steamed basmati rice.

***

xo,
k.
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