Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Quick and Healthy Butter Chicken -- faux but easy

I have been planning to write about Fall, about Fall in New Hampshire, about Halloween but it seems I am seriously lagging. I will write about all of that when I get a little time but today let me do this post, only because this very easy and quick butter chicken is an absolute favorite with my daughters. Well, they actually like this Butter Paneer more but since this one has a similar gravy, they nod their head in unison and agree to put it on their favorite list.

Butter Chicken, quick and healthy

Now, I have said many times about Big Sis's aversion to eat chicken. Lately I have realized that her aversion is not because she is concerned about animal welfare neither because of any high moral grounds(don't ask me). She will eat chicken if I am using small pieces of chicken breast which have been made into a Chicken 65 or Chilli Chicken. Actually she will be more than glad to eat these dishes, at home or outside. She will also eat the chicken kababs I make for the egg roll. Yes, amazing. The bottomline is she will eat bite size pieces of chicken breast or tenderloin when cooked with enough spices.Honestly, who wouldn't?

After the dry chicken dishes, this butter paneer is another favorite of hers. With due respect to chefs of "Moti Mahal" who are held responsible for this calamity, that is loved so much across the globe that the face of Indian Cuisine in the West is the Butter Chicken, I post my recipe today. I usually balk when people take traditional recipes and turn it up side down or leave out important ingredients but I also practice the fact that  "In my kitchen, I will cook what works for me and what my daughters will like".

So here is my disclaimer.

I do not claim this recipe of mine to be the real thing though it tastes very close to the real thing. This is a very simplified and quick version of butter chicken which my daughters love. You can also say it is a healthier version as it has very less butter and no cream. I use Evaporated Milk instead, which is Milk whose water content has been evaporated. You are free to add little cream to finish off and to make it more rich with cashew paste and such. So far, I haven't felt the need to do so in my home. We are perfectly happy with our quick and easy version of Faux Butter Chicken.

But all said and done, this is NOT the traditional recipe of Butter Chicken. It tastes mighty good though and is super easy to make. The gravy also freezes well and I always freeze a part of it. Then on a weekday evening, when every one is dead tired, I just add some paneer or chicken or even egg to it and a great meal is ready in minutes.

Quick Butter Chicken

First we will prep the chicken

Cut 1 lb of chicken breast or chicken tenderloin in bite size pieces.

Marinate the chicken in
1/4th cup of hung yogurt( Put regular yogurt on a strainer and strain the excess whey to give a creamy yogurt)
2 tsp of Garlic paste
1 tsp of Ginger paste
1/4 tsp of Black Pepper powder
2 tsp of tandoori masala(I use Rajah brand)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp of homemade Garam Masala
1 tsp of crushed Kasoori methi
for at least an hour.
I usually do it overnight so that when it is dinner time next evening, I already have something in the refrigerator.

When you are ready to cook, take out the chicken. Add 1 tbsp of melted butter or regular cooking oil and mix together.

Now pre-heat oven to 350F.

Put the chicken pieces on an oven rack with a drip tray below it. The drip tray ensures to catch the drippings and thus prevents any oven mess.

Cook the chicken in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until it is done.

Now, I have noticed that if I use this chicken in the gravy, it tastes great on that day but the next day there is a faint smell.

So, this is what I do.

In a frying pan or wok, heat little oil. Flavor the oil by adding 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper and 1/2 tsp ginger paste. Add the chicken pieces and fry for a few minutes. This chicken is now great to go in the gravy.

To Make the Gravy

Start Cooking

Heat 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil in a deep bottomed pan or kadhai. Add 1/2 tbsp of butter.
On occasions that call for rich gravies, I increase butter to 1tbsp. For only family meals I often skip the butter totally.

Temper the warm oil+butter with
2 Tej Patta
2 Black Cardamom lightly bruised in the mortar
1/4 tsp of methi seeds

Once the methi seeds start sputtering, switch off the heat for a minute and let the oil soak in the flavor of methi seeds. I don't think switching off is necessary but I like to give the oil a little time to absorb flavor of methi seeds and cardamom while I make tomato puree.

Now put the pan back on heat again and add
1-2 tbsp of tomato paste

Follow with
1.5 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste

Fry for a few secs

Next goes in
2 Cups of pureed tomato(fresh tomato pureed in blender)

Mix well with a spatula and add
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch powder
1 tsp Coriander powder
1/4 tsp of homemade Garam masala

Now stir and mix and let the tomato puree cook for about 7-8 mins at medium heat until the raw smell is gone. Keep stirring in between else it will char. You have to really cook the tomato well.

Add salt to taste and about 1/2tsp sugar and mix. As a reader Hasina Ahmed said, the sugar prevents the milk from breaking up later so make sure you add it.

Once the tomato is cooked and you see the oil seeping around the edges, lower the heat and add
2 Cups of Evaporated Milk(from can)
+ 1 cup of warm water
If you don't have Evaporated Milk, substitute with Whole Milk.
Remember to simmer at low heat as milk will break if you cook the gravy at high heat

Mix well and let the gravy simmer at low medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Adjust for taste and fine tune salt/sugar. You can add little more Garam masala and kashmiri mirch at this point if you think the dish needs more

Now add about 2 tsp of Kasoori methi crushed between your palm. Ahhh...the fragrance.

Now I make the gravy in a larger quantity as I freeze half of it while I add the chicken to the other half.

After you have taken out the gravy that you intend to store, add the chicken pieces to the remaining and let it simmer for a few more minutes.

Serve with naan or rice.

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  1. Good easy recipe..never mind if its faux..the only thing that matters is how it tastes once cooked..looks great to me

  2. good idea to freeze the gravy and use later....

  3. Even advay loves butter chicken this looks yum

  4. Its good that you have shared this recipe. I was looking for some new chicken recipe from last few months. I will surely try this.


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