Tonight, we had a taste of India!  I have two good friends who are from India and who were so supportive in helping me find a traditional recipe for Butter Chicken, giving me ingredients, telling me about their culture and how each area in India is so different.  I love listening to them talk about their experiences and learning more about what life is like in other countries.  One of my friends even had her husband, who was on a work trip to India when I was looking for recipes, bring home some traditional dessert sweets for us to try!  Awesome, right?!  She also bought us Naan and Kulcha and gave me some of the spices that I did not have.  The other made sure that I knew how to properly eat the Butter Chicken with the Naan.  You don't use silverware, you just tear off part of the bread and scoop the chicken and sauce with the bread.  I would never have thought about eating it that way.  I am so fortunate to have such wonderful friends who are so passionate about their homeland and are so willing to help me learn.

The dessert sampler from India
The Verdict:  Yum!  The Butter Chicken was less spicy and more sweet than I anticipated.  It was very rich and full of flavor.  The kids liked it and enjoyed eating without using silverware!  Ebabe was not fond of any of the desserts, which are made of different kinds of nuts and sugars, but everyone else had at least one favorite!  The Butter Chicken was easy to modify for a dairy-free meal, although the naan, kulcha, and various desserts did contain some milk products.

Butter Chicken (original recipe from Sanjeev Kapoor)

You will need:

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken cut into 1½ inch pieces
1-2 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP & 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
1 tsp salt
4 TBSP Earth Balance Spread
1/2 cup plain Coconut Yogurt
3 teaspoons Ginger paste
3 teaspoons Garlic paste
1/2 tsp Garam masala powder
2 tsp vegetable oil 
1/4 tsp ground cardamom  
1/4 tsp ground clove  
2-3 Black peppercorns
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup tomato puree
2 TBSP sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kasoori methi
1/2 cup cream of coconut

The first step of the original recipe was to use 400 grams of lemon juice.  I could not for the life of me figure out how you could convert grams to cups.  Chip did the calculations and said that 400 grams is approximately 1.6 cups.  So, I mixed 1 1/2 cups of lemon juice, 1 TBSP of the Kashmiri red chili powder, and 1 tsp of salt and let the chicken pieces soak in the liquid for half an hour in the fridge.  After thinking about it, I believe that you should make a simple paste using a few TBSP of lemon juice and the ingredients listed just above.  My way worked, I'm just not sure that it was what the original recipe wanted me to do.

The original recipe also says to hang the yogurt in muslin cloth for 15 minutes to allow for extra water to be removed.  Since I was using coconut yogurt, which is a bit thicker than normal dairy yogurt, and I didn't have muslin, I scooped it onto a piece of paper towel and let it sit for a few minutes.  No liquid came out.

In a medium container, add the 2 tsp of ginger paste and 2 tsp of garlic paste, 1/2 tsp red chili powder, garam masala powder, 1 tsp salt and the vegetable oil to the yogurt. Mix well.  

 Apply this marinade to the chicken pieces and place them in the refrigerator for three to four hours.  
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Thread the chicken on to skewers and place on a baking sheet. 

Cook the chicken for 12-15 minutes.  Baste with Earth Balance spread and allow to cook for 2 more minutes.  Remove and set aside.

To make the makhni gravy, heat 2 TBSP butter in a medium non-stick pan. Add the cardamom, clove, peppercorns and cinnamon. Sauté for two minutes, then add 1 tsp ginger paste and 1 tsp garlic paste, and sauté for two more minutes. Add to the mix, the tomato puree, 1/2 tsp red chili powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes.

After 10 minutes, add the sugar, powdered kasoori methi and the tandoori chicken, removed from the skewers.  Coat the chicken with the gravy.  Simmer for 5 minutes.

 Add the cream of coconut and stir over low heat until completely mixed.

Serve with naan or kulcha.

To see how we celebrated India during the 2010 Olympics, click here.

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