If you’ve never had Butter Chicken before, there’s a chance you're worried it might be a little too extra for you. A mild disclaimer: our Butter Chicken IS lush, but it’s not that lush. Butter Chicken is a kind of curry, and for people who aren’t super familiar with Indian food, yes, there’s more than one kind of curry. That's why we can have close to a dozen different types of curry powder. “Curry” is one giant umbrella term that is broadly applied to vegetables and proteins that have been cooked in some kind of sauce with a blend of spices. Usually curry is associated with Indian cooking, but curries are also very popular in Thai cooking, and pop up in Japanese and Jamaican cuisines as well.
Butter chicken comes in a velvety sauce made from butter, cream, and tomatoes. In terms of spice levels, Butter Chicken has more of a tang than overt heat, and the Kashmiri Chile Powder that’s used is actually pretty sweet and fruity. Madras Curry Powder has some red pepper flakes and a little bit of brown mustard, which gives it a zing that plays well with the acidity and brightness of the tomatoes. Make sure when you buy canned tomatoes for this dish, you just buy tomatoes and not ones flavored with basil or garlic, or whatever else they’re canning tomatoes with these days. To help balance the zing in the Madras we used cozy, fragrant Garam Masala, which contains cinnamon, along with clove and nutmeg. This recipe balances tartness from lemon juice, fresh minced ginger, and tomato, against sweet Demerara Sugar and Garam Masala. There's a beautiful smoky note from uniquely warm and savory Black Cardamom Pods, and these all combine to make Butter Chicken a dish that could appeal to anyone who is looking for a recipe to check off all the boxes mid-winter comfort meal checklist.
- Ingredients for marinade:
- 1 ½ Cups plain low fat yogurt
- 1 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp Ginger root, minced
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 2 tsp Kashmiri Chile Powder
- 2 tsp Garam Masala
- 2 tsp Madras Curry Powder
- Ingredients for chicken:
- 1½ Lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 Tbsp Ghee
- 1 Vidalia onion, diced small
- 2 tsp Ginger root, minced
- 2 tsp Garlic, minced
- 1 14oz. Can of tomato puree, or plain tomato sauce
- 1 Black Cardamom Pod
- 3 Tbsp butter, unsalted and chilled
- ⅓ Cup 2% milk
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, ginger root, kosher salt, sugar, Kashmiri powder, Garam Masala, and Madras curry and mix well. Add chicken and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or over night.
- In a Dutch oven heated to medium high, add ghee. Add onions and cook about 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken and marinade and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the chicken is cooked on the outside and the juices are released. Add the tomato puree, and black cardamom black and mix well.
- Return to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes. Remove cardamom pod and remove from heat. Stir in the 2% milk and 3 Tbsp of butter.
- Serve with brown basmati rice, fresh made naan, and garnish with cilantro.