Butter Chicken

 butter chicken is as good as it gets. in undergrad, i made the healthy choice of biking to and from school, but would often make an unhealthy, but very delicious, detour on my way home to mashallah sweets. i was there so often, the staff would often try to guess whether i was ordering muli paratha, samosa chaat, or naan kabobs on the particular visit. however, there was no need for guessing if i was there on a monday or friday; those were the days mashallah made butter chicken. my family was soon hooked and would bring home a feast on friday’s.

 butter chicken is a punjabi dish and it’s definitely one of my favorites. there are many methods to preparing this goodness, i generally like to eat this dish boneless, but feel free to use any cut of chicken you like! it’s a regular in my home now.  we usually serve it with salad, rice, roti and achar. this time i also sautéed mustard greens. the bitterness contrasts nicely with the creamy butter chicken.

3 lb of chicken chopped, skinless chicken breast
4 medium sized onions, minced finely
4 cloves of garlic, minced finely
1 tsp of ginger, minced finely
2 tbsp roasted ground cumin
2 tbsp turmeric
2 tbsp of garam masala
1 stick of cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 cup of tomato puree
juice of one lemon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of yogurt
1/2 cup of chicken stock or water
1/2 – 1 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper or pepper (powdered or fresh) of your choice
(start with 1/2 and increase depending on your heat tolerance)
1 cup of cilantro, chopped. (optional)

there are many ways to prepare the chicken, so i’ll leave that to your discretion, but will provide the two ways that i’ve cooked the chicken.

pan fried the chicken in some ghee and added 1/2 tsp of tumeric, 1/2 tsp of ground roasted cumin and 1/2 tsp of salt and cook thoroughly, till the chicken is golden in color.

poach the chicken, (which speeds up the cooking time and provides the stock!) put your chicken in a pot of boiling water with the above spices and cook thoroughly. i’ve been obsessed with poached chicken lately and prefer this method lately. you can also roast, braise, bake your chicken. up to you.

in a separate pan, heat up ghee or oil and add the minced onions. cook onions till golden in color and then add garlic and ginger. add the cumin, turmeric, garam masala, bay leaves and cinnamon stick. cook till fragrant and add the tomato puree and lemon juice. add butter, salt and pepper and taste; at this point feel free to add more spices to taste. add the heavy cream and yogurt and stir. add the cayenne pepper in intervals, starting with 1/2 tsp. add in the cooked chicken with either the chicken stock or water. stir and allow to simmer for about thirty minutes to an hour. before serving, toss in the cilantro. enjoy!


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