It takes a lot of will power to resist butter chicken. Far more will power than I have. In a nutshell, I made this on Sunday for the second time in a week, and I very rarely do that. We had it for dinner last night, I had a bit after work for a snack. Gabi took her little spoon and ate a plateful for dinner this evening. Her face smeared orange with sauce, she tapped her little fingers together demanding “Mo?”
Twenty-four hours later, this double batch of butter chicken is about gone. Good homemade Indian food is one of life’s best pleasures. The smells of the spices, the complexities of sweet, sour, spicy. If you’ve never had butter chicken, it’s very much like chicken tikka malsala, one of the most common dishes Americans order at Indian restaurants. The chicken is marinated for a few hours in spiced yogurt, then roasted.
The sauce is velvety and rich, a creamy tomato gravy that involves heating butter and sauteing garlic, ginger, tomatoes, cumin, mace, cardamom pods, chili powder. You strain the mixture into a bowl, puree the solids, then strain it again. The first time, I added about 1/4 cup of the solids to the strained sauce and preferred the flavor intensity to what I made Sunday, which was just the strained sauce. You put the sauce back on the heat, then stir in dried fenugreek leaves, cream and honey. Mmmmmmm mmmm!
A word about ingredients: this recipe and others you’ll see on this site from time to time call for ginger and garlic paste. It’s available at most international markets and will keep in your refrigerator forever. If you can’t find it, you could substitute by finely chopping 10 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons minced ginger and a teaspoon of water in a mini-food processor. Whir until a paste-like consistency forms. It’s not a perfect substitute, but in this case the paste is only needed for the marinade. This substitute should work.
For the roasting, I used metal skewers. Wooden ones require soaking, and why do the extra work if you don’t need to?