Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice and “Non” Naan (Garlic/Za’tar)

 

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Hello everyone!

You should watch my Youtube Video Tutorial to see all the steps in action!

I am obsessed with Butter Chicken–it’s one of my Indian go-to orders (but I also love, in no particular order, Navratan Korma, Chicken Korma, and Saag Paneer). This recipe I have today was an exclusive one from Cook’s Illustrated. I made a few tweaks to their version of Indian Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani), but they deserve all the credit and praise for this one. I have tried many home cook renditions of this, and it just never has that authentic taste. This one absolutely does!

The spices absolutely matter–do not substitute them. Also, don’t use standard “yellow” curry powder–for this recipe, with a few simple spices you can find, you can make your own, and it’ll be that much better. In fact, I hand ground my spices (I had coriander and cumin seeds) with my mortar and pestle, and I think freshly grinding the spices took it to the next level, for sure.

And although I am team “make your own everything,” Garam Masala is a difficult spice blend to master. This, I would suggest, buying already prepared.

Garam Masala gives the Butter Chicken its sweetness (Garam Masala tends to be some sort of variation of cinnamon, cardamom, etc.). It’s absolutely divine.

In addition, this recipe is smart because it uses yogurt to tenderize the chicken, and there’s use of tomato paste (instead of sauce) for better concentration of tomato flavor. In addition, I made this recipe so that both low and high carb eaters can enjoy (yes, even the “non” naan).

Most of my readers know how much I love my cooking gadgets, and today, I would like to feature my Blackstone Griddle. For those of you who don’t know what that is, essentially it’s a flat top grill, and it is one of the most versatile tools I have. The reason I use my Blackstone for this recipe is because a.) my fire alarm goes off easily, so when I use my broiler, I will have an incessant headache, b.) the Blackstone has so much “real estate”–32 inches of room to evenly sear all my chicken and not smoke my house, and c.) I can multi-task–I was able to make my sauce by putting my cast iron pot right on the griddle top and still have room to sear the chicken.

If you don’t have a Blackstone griddle, no fret. Just broil as specified below (the Cook’s Illustrated way). Any sort of grill would work here! Cooking outdoors is just something I love so much.

Ingredients for Butter Chicken (4 Servings)

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces and chilled, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 4 teaspoons minced serrano chile
  • 3 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1⁄2 cup tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons sugar (or if you’re low carb, use a sugar substitute of your choice like Lakanto/Swerve–but use the powdered kind so it blends well)
  • 2 teaspoon table salt, divided
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 1⁄2 cup plain Greek yogurt (if you’re low carb, I use the plain “Two Good” brand as it has the least amount of carbs)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Cooking Steps for Butter Chicken Sauce

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger, and serrano and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is softened and onion begins to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add garam masala, coriander, cumin, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add water and tomato paste and whisk until no lumps of tomato paste remain. Add sugar and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to boil.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in cream. Using immersion blender or blender, process until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. Return sauce to simmer over medium heat and whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Remove saucepan from heat and cover to keep warm. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 4 days; gently reheat sauce before adding hot chicken.)

Lei Mangia’s Method for Preparing Chicken (using a grill, preferably Blackstone Griddle)

  1. Dice chicken into small, bite sized pieces. Combine chicken, yogurt, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in bowl and toss well to coat. If you have time, leave chicken marinating for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat your grill on high (you’re looking for 450 or higher!) for a few minutes.
  3. Throw chicken with marinade on hot griddle/grill top and cook until caramelized and cooked thoroughly. Use tongs/Heavy Duty Griddle Spatula to keep chicken moving every minute or so.
  4. Put chicken aside to put into sauce later.
  5. Tip: The yogurt from the chicken will be left on the griddle. Scrape off your grill while it’s hot to make cleaning the easiest!

Cook’s Illustrated Method for Preparing Chicken (using an oven broiler)

  1. Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Combine chicken, yogurt, and remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt in bowl and toss well to coat. Using tongs, transfer chicken to wire rack set in aluminum foil— lined rimmed baking sheet. Broil until chicken is evenly charred on both sides and registers 175 degrees, 16 to 20 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through broiling.

Finishing Steps for Butter Chicken

  1. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes. While chicken rests, warm sauce over medium-low heat. Cut chicken into 3⁄4-inch chunks and stir into sauce, if you did Cook’s Illustrated method. If you did Lei Mangia’s, the chicken is cut into chunks already.
  2. Stir in 2 tablespoons of cilantro and season with salt to taste.
  3. Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with remaining 3 teaspoons cilantro, and serve.

Bonus Side Dish Recipes:

Basmati Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Indian basmati rice (or use jasmine rice, if difficult to find–good substitute)
  • 1-3/4 cups water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Cooking Steps for Basmati Rice

**Please don’t skip rinsing the rice–it makes a difference!**

  1. Place the rice in medium bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Using your hands, gently swish the grains to release any excess starch. Carefully pour off the water, leaving the rice in the bowl. Repeat four times, or until the water runs almost clear. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain the rice.
  2. In a medium pot, bring the water, butter, salt, and rice to a boil. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. If the rice is still too firm, add a few more tablespoons of water and continue cooking for a few minutes more.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

Non “Naan” (Garlic/Za’tar)

**Or use actual Naan, if you have it/are making it!**

Ingredients

  • 2 pita bread/Naan bread (Pro Tip: if you are low-carb, you can use this. It works not just as a Pita, but also as a Naan substitute!)
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder (or use two cloves of fresh garlic!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of za’tar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cilantro (optional)

Cooking Steps for “Non” Naan

  1. Preheat a pan/griddle to medium heat for two minutes.
  2. Put a light coating of olive oil down and brush oil on both sides of bread.  (About half a teaspoon to 3/4 teaspoon)
  3. Cook each side for at least 30-40 seconds to soften.
  4. Drizzle remaining olive oil on top and put seasonings on top. Take off heat.
  5. Cut into eighths to make triangles (think of a small pizza).
  6. Enjoy!

Navratan Korma (Vegetable Korma) and Jasmine Rice

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Happy Martin Luther King Day! I very much needed today off. And to help spread the word of peace as per MLK, I decided to think of the most peaceful country of all–India.

I love the flavor of Indian food; the problem lies, however, in its presentation: it looks like mushy baby food. It’s truly hard to get a wonderful presentation out of the saucy curries, but if you put looks aside, you’ll enjoy one of the most unique flavors known to the world. Another fear lies in that it can also be overwhelmingly spicy if one is not cautionary. Again, put your fears aside, and know that even the wussiest eater could indulge in certain dishes, particularly this one!

Often times people are afraid of Indian food; they rarely eat it out, and even more seldom, cook Indian at home. Honestly, the largest obstacle is getting the authentic ingredients. If you go on kicks like I do, you’ll eventually stock up enough spices to make every thing.

But in case you want Indian and you don’t want to invest like I have, today’s post is a popular dish with simple ingredients. I have seen recipes with even more authentic ingredients, but the issue is that it’s not very accessible even for the Indian spice hoarder like me.

No, I am not an Indian historian, but the little I do know I will tell–firstly, Navratan means “nine gems” and, if I’m not mistaken, korma is the cooking process, which is “braised.” Korma is not exclusive to Indian; for example, Turkey has their own version called “kavurma.” Countries within this region have variations of this curry with yogurt/cream sauce.  While we are not literally eating an array of rhinestones, the dish is loaded with assorted vegetables and possibly fruits.  In theory, you should have nine different vegetables and/or fruits. I will provide a suggested list in case you’re not feeling too daring.

Another reason I am posting this recipe is that there are very few rules; you can add whatever vegetables (even fruits) you have in your refrigerator and pantry.  Do not be afraid to make it your own. I will advise, however, that you eat Navratan Korma (or Chicken Korma) out at a reputable Indian restaurant to make sure you have some sort of reference point when making your own Korma. It’s always a good to be inspired!

To me, this dish is comparable to a beef stew (without the meat, but the meat is welcome–chicken is your friend here). It’s saucy and comforting to eat; similar to stew, it is best soaked up with a carbohydrate. This dish is excellent (and I will almost like to say it is required) with jasmine rice, and even more divine with garlic naan to mop up the sweet deliciousness. And while the consistency, appearance, and vegetables are akin to a “beef stew,” the flavors are simply distinct. There is this sweetness that comes from the Garam Masala, a purely Indian flavor. There is a creaminess from the coconut milk that is married with curry. The vegetables take on all the gold (as the color, if you’re not like me and put too much curry powder, could be a yellow) that this sauce has to offer.

Before I begin, I want to say there are some ingredients on my list that are not negotiable. I know, I told you I would be flexible, but without some of these, it’s no longer a korma. It might still be a curry, but it’s not a korma if you don’t have…

*Cashews

*Coconut Milk (you can use heavy cream, but more authentic approaches would be coconut milk)

*Garam Masala

*Curry Powder (I don’t care if its simply McCormick Curry Powder–it’ll work here! You need the yellow from the Tumeric)

Okay, simple enough? Here we go…

Non-Protesters

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or any other oil)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon of minced fresh ginger root (add more if you want)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 potatoes cubed ***
  • 4-8 ounces of tomato sauce (this depends on how much you’re making–you may need to add sauce as you go–I recommend the sauce you don’t need to open with a can so you can throw it back in the refrigerator)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons of curry powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons of garam masala
  • 1-2 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 1 cup of frozen peas ****
  • 4 carrots cubed ***
  • 1 can of canned corn***
  • 1 can of coconut milk (full fat if possible!)**You can also use heavy cream; it won’t hurt!
  • 1/4 cup of cashews, crushed finely (plus more whole)
  • 1 cup of Basmati rice

*** = you can leave out and substitute with whatever you want/have

Vegetables I highly recommend in addition to the ones above: green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers (green, yellow, and/or red). I believe that peas, corns, and potatoes are very standard as well as cauliflower.

Fruits I recommend: I believe dried fruits are very authentic; often times golden raisins  are put in this dish by traditionalists; however, I did not have any so I threw in craisins (dried cranberries.) Also, diced pineapple can complement the dish and is used in some recipes! I would stick to dried fruits  and try to keep the fruits in similar taste profiles.

In addition to fruits and vegetables, you could certainly add chicken (or any other white meat); chicken korma is equally popular as Navratan Korma! 

A Peaceful Demonstration

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the onion, and cook until tender. Tip: If your onions are taking a while to become translucent, throw a small (I mean a very little amount) of water to the pan with onions; the onions will sizzle and sweat faster!
  3. Once the onions are translucent, mix in ginger and garlic, and continue cooking 1 minute. You may add the curry powder at this point, if you wish. 
  4. While the onions are becoming aromatic, parboil (or microwave) your vegetables; at the very least, cook your potatoes!
  5. Also, either food process the cashews or mash up with a hammer in a plastic bag. They should be pulverized!
  6. Mix potatoes, carrots, cashews, and tomato sauce. Add sauce as needed (if vegetables are not well coated.) Season with salt and curry powder. Cook and stir 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Leave mixture covered to 
  7. Meanwhile, measure out one cup of Basmati rice to two cups of water. Add a little bit of oil/butter and salt. Bring to a rolling boil, and immediately cover to release steam. Rice should be done in about ten minutes (make sure you take the heat down to low so you don’t burn your rice, and whatever you do, DO NOT OPEN THE LID.) Once the rice is almost finished steaming, throw in some frozen peas. Fluff rice with a fork and keep covered to stay warm.
  8. Going back to the sauce, stir in peas, corn, and cream (coconut milk) into the skillet. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. The longer you simmer, the better. I recommend even putting this into a crock-pot if you would like to want until the next day, too.
  9. Before serving, throw in garam masala and sugar (garam masala should be saved towards the end as cooking can take away the flavor). Adjust seasonings to your taste. Sprinkle whole cashews, dried raisins, and other desired toppings.
  10. Serve rice with the Navratan Korma; you should also have garlic naan for the leftover sauce. Get those brownie points! 🙂