When the weather turns cold, I like to eat something that’s a little hot and spicy to get the warmth back in my body. The problem is that my kids won’t eat anything hot and spicy, except this very mild version of the Indian dish murgh makhani or butter chicken as we Westerners like to call it. I only use the hot spices in this recipe in sparse amounts, and I use honey to soothe down the taste to accommodate the delicate taste buds of little ones, and yet there is still heat enough to get the internal fire going, but not enough to burn or scare off anyone.
And if you are not just cooking to impress your offspring, you can also make this dish when you have friends over. I like dishes where most of the mess can be over and done with beforehand, and this is one of those. Make this dish ready an hour before the guests arrive and you only need to cook the rice, maybe throw a naan or two in the oven, and reheat the butter chicken and you are good to go. An extra bonus is that your guests will surely be impressed with your international cooking skills, and isn’t that worth something too? I like to think so.
Butter chicken (serves 4)
2 lbs (800 g) chicken fillet (either breast or inner thigh as you like)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp kashmiri chili powder (If you like it hot you can add more)
1 tsp sweet paprika powder
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt (not low-fat)
1.5 oz (50 g) butter
3 pods of bruised cardamom pods
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp tomato paste
7 oz (200 g) pureed tomatoes
3.5 oz (100 ml) chicken stock
5 oz (150 ml) cream
2-3 tbsp clear honey, preferably acacia (or more if you like it)
salt and pepper
Fresh cilantro (as much as you like)
1. Mix garlic, garam masala, the finely grated ginger, coriander, cumin, chili powder and the sweet paprika together with the yoghurt in a bowl.
2. Cut the chicken into pieces preferably no smaller than 1x1x1 inches. Put the chicken pieces into the yoghurt mixture and mix it together so that all the chicken is covered. It will seem there’s not enough of the yoghurt mixture, but it will do the job, don’t worry. Once you are done with the mixing you, cover the chicken and leave it in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or even better overnight.
3. After the chicken has soaked in the yoghurt, it’s time to finish the rest. First melt the butter in af non-stick pan together with the crushed cardamom pods and the cinnamon stick. Add the chicken and fry it till it starts to take on some color. It is important to stir a lot while you do this, as you don’t want to burn the pieces of chicken.
4. Add the vinegar, tomato paste, tomato puree and the chicken stock and let it all simmer til the chicken is tender. That should take about 30 minutes.
5. When the chicken is done you add the cream and once it’s all heated up, you add the honey to taste along with salt and pepper.
6. Put the butter chicken in af serving bowl and throw fresh cilantro on top for both show and taste. I always serve this dish with basmati rice which I cook according to the instruction on the pack. I also make a little Greek yoghurt with honey, salt and pepper to drizzle on top and maybe some naan on the side to dip in all the yummy sauce.