It's funny how our family dinners now are getting dictated by my kids more and more. Growing up here, they are more attuned to the western recipes and prefer that to most of the recipes I long for. They can't handle the spice and the mouth tingling masala combinations. So most days the recipes are simplified and lightened up to handle their spice level, resulting in my spouse and I reaching for the spicy pickles.
I bet my folks are sitting and laughing now remembering how picky I was and how my mom used to ask "enthu kazhikannulla vishappanu?" meaning "what are you hungry for?' instead of just telling me what is there to eat.
Our food is spicy and our traditional curries are rich with onions and chilies, all pieces to be fished out and kept aside. Not many of our gravy recipes are pureed into a silken ubiquitous green / yellow/ rainbow hued sauces used as a drizzle all around a white plate. It's rough textured and it's meant to be mixed into rice, mopped up with a naan or roti and dipped into with a puri. When I tell my not so little ones about some of the recipes I showcase here in this blog, they look at me as if I am from another country.
And one week of the kids being home (mid winter recess) meant a lot of kid friendly food... Now that I feel is the toughest thing to write about in a blog. What works once for the kids may or may not work the next time so I really wing it each day and hope that some of what they eat stays in their memory and one day they will ask for it by name. (Or maybe all that will remain will be relegated to "butter chicken, erachi curry, dal, beans, naan and biryani.)
Anyway, growing up , I can't remember eating butter chicken at all. Its such a restaurant item that its only now its become mainstream in households. Wonder why? Its so easy to make!! Or maybe its a dish more popular outside India!! Butter chicken or Chicken Makhani is grilled pieces of chicken in a tomatoey creamy sauce. It can made with boneless chicken or with bone in chicken, marinated in a tandoori spice and lightly fried or grilled.
Well, amongst our friends's families and our house too, it is a popular item with the kids, so gets made at every get together, ensuring the kids will eat naan and butter chicken without any fuss! What's not to like.. it has a smooth velvety sauce with simple flavors, not too spicy(though I can't resist spicing it up!!) and the grilled chicken adds a smoky twang to it. The main flavors are the garam masala and the kasoori methi, which is the dried fenugreek leaves, without which it just won't taste the same. I add Amul butter if I have it.. does it taste better? I believe so but any butter is fine. I use more milk than cream for the family but guests get the richer creamier experience. The grilling is avoidable and instead just dry cook it on a hot cast iron skillet with very little oil..not frying though.
You will need: Serves 4
Chicken-1 lb cut up into pieces (without bone or bone in)
1/2 pack tandoori masala(National or shaan)
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste(fresh)
1 cup regular unflavored yogurt
1 tbsp oil
1 can (425 gm) tomato puree without any added flavors
Garam masala- 1 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder- 1 tsp (add more as needed)
Kasoori methi- 1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Amul butter-1 tbsp
Cream+Milk -2-3 cup altogether, any amount of each
1/2 cup water
Marinate the chicken(washed and drained) with all the ingredients of the marinade and keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 hrs or overnight. Preheat the oven to 450 f and then place the chicken on a foil line tray and grill for 8-10 minutes. Raise heat to broil and broil the pieces for 2-3 minutes till the outside just starts to crisp. Remove(it will be undercooked, but will finish cooking in the gravy) and keep aside.
Heat a pan with 1 tbsp of oil and saute the onions. The onions have to be chopped really fine so it melts away. After a 2-3 minutes, add the ginger garlic paste and saute well for a minute. Add the tomato puree and the red chili powder, turmeric and saute on medium heat till the tomato comes together and moves as a mass.
Add the salt, butter, the water, the milk and cream combination(if you add just milk, it will curdle, so add a bit of cream or butter and then add the milk.)and let it simmer. Add the grilled chicken pieces and cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes on very low heat..barely a simmer. Add the kasoori methi and the garam masala and adjust taste. You may need a bit more of salt or even some butter or sugar or cream to cut the tartness. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with hot butter naan.