Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

I made naan for my Tuesdays with Dorie group and of course needed something to serve it with!  A few years ago I had Butter Chicken at a restaurant and it was really good, though I don't remember specifically what it tasted like.  Seemed like a perfect opportunity to make it myself!  My base was this recipe from AllRecipes, but it was thoroughly tweaked based on the recipe's reviews and my own tastes.  It turned out really well and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.  The flavors in the sauce melded perfectly after simmering and it was just delicious.  I will definitely make it again!

Quick Note:  I used my little food processor to grind the cashews, finely chop the onion and shallot (just coarsely chopped them by hand, then pulsed them together in the food processor), and make the garlic ginger paste.  For the garlic ginger paste, I just tossed in a head's worth of peeled garlic cloves and an approximately equal sized piece of peeled fresh ginger, then a tablespoon of water to help turn it into a paste.

Chicken Makhani

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 T oil
2 T butter
2 T garlic ginger paste (see note)
1 bay leaf
1 t garam masala
1 t chili powder
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
a pinch of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 t lemon juice
1 C unseasoned tomato sauce (an 8 oz can)
1/4 C finely ground cashews
1 C half and half
1/4 C plain yogurt
3/4 to 1 t salt, or to taste
1 T oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into bite size pieces
optional: 1 additional t garam masala and about 1/2 C water

Place oil in a nonstick skillet and heat over medium high.  Add finely chopped onion and shallot and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add butter, garlic ginger paste, bay leaf, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and lemon juice, and cook, stirring frequently, for about a minute.  Add tomato sauce and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in cashews, half and half, and yogurt, then salt to taste.  Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.  Pour sauce into a bowl and puree with an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor (let it cool a bit first if you use a regular blender or food processor!).  Wash skillet and add oil.  Heat over medium high, then add chicken and cook until golden on the outside.  It's okay if it hasn't cooked through yet.  Add the sauce back into the skillet and simmer over a very low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  The chicken will finish cooking during this time and the flavors in the sauce will marry and mellow.  You can add the reserved teaspoon of garam masala if you'd like, and water if it gets too thick.  Serve over rice or with naan.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

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