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Masala – Monica's Spice Diary – Indian Food Blog

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken – the celebratory, spice laced comfort dish that satisfies every single time. It’s quite possibly the most famous and popular Indian dish too. The ultimate Butter Chicken requires a perfect balance of creaminess, sweetness & heat. All levels need to sing together harmoniously to create a decadent dish that you want to stick your face in.

So this wasn’t a “passed down” recipe, it’s one I’ve spent a little time perfecting in my own kitchen. After much tweaking, recipe developing and eating, (I’d like to think) I’m now onto a winner!

Interestingly Butter Chicken is not a “home-style” dish – it was created relatively recently (in the 1970’s) in a restaurant in New Delhi as a way or dressing up unsold tandoori chicken. It was an instant hit and over time became the dish most synonymous with Indian food all over the world.

If you missed the live cookery class of me teaching this, but want to catch up and watch, you can do so by clicking here. Also, if you have any dish suggestions for the next class which will be on 24th July, comment below or drop me a message on Instagram or Facebook. I would love to hear from you. In the meantime, happy cooking! x

Butter Chicken

Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • Food processor (optional)
  • Pestle & Mortar (optional)
  • Heavy bottom pan

Ingredients
  

For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 500 g skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt
  • Juice of 1/4 lime/lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic grated
  • 2" ginger grated
  • 3/4 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder/mild paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp oil

For the Butter Masala:

  • 1 good tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves optional
  • 4 green cardamoms optional
  • 3 cms cinnamon stick/cassia bark optional
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder optional
  • 2 onions (approx 175g) finely diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 garlic cloves grated
  • 3" ginger grated
  • 8 tbsp tomato passata/blitzed plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp double concentrate tomato puree
  • 2 bird eye chillies 1 finely chopped & 1 halved vertically
  • 12 cashews soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, made into a thick smooth paste (using a food processor)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder/mild paprika
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp double (heavy) cream
  • 3 good pinches kasuri methi/sun-dried fenugreek leaves

To Finish:

  • 1 black cardamom crushed into a powder (optional)
  • Juice of 1/4 lime
  • Handful fresh coriander finely chopped

Instructions
 

  • Turn your grill on at the maximum temperature. Place all "marinade" ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Ideally allow to marinade or 2-3 hours (overnight is best). Then, place the marinated chicken on a foil lined oven tray. Grill for 10-12 minutes or until just fully cooked (the chicken should be white all the way through with a slight char all over). Remove from grill and keep aside.
  • In a pan, heat the butter and allow to melt. Using a pestle & mortar, coarsely crush open the cloves and green cardamoms and add to the pan along with the nutmeg powder and cinnamon. Then, add the onion along with 1 tsp salt. Cook on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until soft and translucent.
  • Now add the garlic and ginger and mix. Cook for 3-4 minutes until light golden in colour. Add the chillies and mix. Then gradually add the tomato passata and tomato puree. Now add the creamy cashew paste and mix well. Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes on a low/medium heat.
  • Add in half of the fresh coriander now. Then add the garam masala, coriander powder, Kashmiri chilli powder/paprika, turmeric, salt and sugar mix well. Add in 5-6 tbsp water and allow the spices to cook for 1-2 minutes. Now grind the the kasuri methi into a powder using your fingers and then add to the pan and mix.
  • Now add the cream and mix well. When you see the oil begin to separate from the masala paste, at the edges, add the grilled chicken as well as any juices on your grill tray.
  • Add ¼ cup (60ml) water and bring to boil (I like to deglaze the grill tray with water and use that for maximum flavour). Pop a lid on the pan and allow the chicken to absorb the flavour of the masala for 3-5 minutes on a medium heat.
  • Finish with black cardamom powder, lime and fresh coriander. Allow the butter chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before digging in. Serve with steamed basmati rice or hot and fresh naans!

Notes

If you are vegetarian, instead of chicken, use 225g paneer and 2 handfuls of peas. You do not need to marinate the paneer so you will not need the marination ingredients.
Using a good quality tomato passata and tomato puree makes a big difference in this dish!

Channa Dal Keema Mattar

Keema Mattar is one of my favourites. This recipe is cooked with channa dal (optional) which add delicious nuttiness and a lovely bite. I love to mop it up with hot buttery chapatis and sometimes with a fried egg on the side when I feel like I need an extra hug in the stomach department!

When I fancy something lighter I sometimes make keema lettuce wraps and sometime swap out the lamb for quorn (which also works a treat!).

There was no live cookery class this week but I shall be back next Friday, 15th May cooking up another delicious storm on my Facebook page so I hope to see you then. Until then, enjoy the below recipe!

Keema Mattar with Channa Dal

monicasawhney
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 6-7 tbsp oil for cooking
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 black cardamom coarsely crushed, optional
  • 2 green cardamoms coarsely crushed, optional
  • 2" “ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion (150g) cut into small rough chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1" ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 5 tbsp tomato passata
  • 1 tsp double concentrate tomato puree
  • 2 birds eye green chillies sliced vertically in half
  • 400g lamb/mutton/quorn mince
  • 5 tbsp peas defrosted
  • 2 small potatoes cooked, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 150 g channa dal lentils soaked & boiled with salt for 45 minutes or until tender** – optional
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Large handful coriander
  • Juice of ¼ lime optional

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil in a pan. Blitz the onion, ginger and garlic, together in a food processor until coarsely ground together. Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaves, crushed cardamoms, cinnamon stick and cumin seeds to the pan.
  • Now add the ground paste to the pan and cook on a medium heat for 6-7 minutes. Once you see the paste has turned golden in colour add 3-4 tbsp water and continue to cook for 7-8 minutes on a low/medium heat. If it ever catches, add a splash of water or a little more oil.
  • Now add the salt, paprika, turmeric and garam masala. Cook for a minute and then add the pasata and tomato puree as well as the chillies. When you see the oil separate from the masala, add the lamb/mutton/quorn mince and cook for 4-5 minutes or until you see the colour change. Then add the peas, potato, channa dal as well as the remaining spices and sugar. Mix well.
  • Add 1 cup of water then place a lid on top and cook for a further 10 minutes on a medium heat, stirring every few minutes.
  • Finish with the coriander as well as the lime juice. Taste for salt/chilli and adjust accordingly.

Notes

*I cooked the dal exactly as I did for the lentils in my tadka recipe which can be found here. You can soak the channa lentils for 3-4 hours for warm water to help soften but it’s not essential. 

Punjabi Murgh Masala

I can’t count the number of times I have cooked this dish; yet every time I sit down to eat it, I still get a tiny bit excited. It’s because it never disappoints. It is for that reason that I decided to teach my Punjabi Murgh Masala at my third LIVE COOKERY CLASS this afternoon. I have also decided that it deserves to be flagged under my “Spice Club Staples” recipe collection because once you have nailed how to make the masala part of this recipe, you can actually use it as a base for countless recipes, so tis a great go-to in our current climate.

The masala is also fantastic to cook in bulk, store in a jar, top with a little bit of oil & keep in the fridge. When you come home and fancy a delicious chicken/paneer/mixed veg/fish prawn masala…you know it will be ready in just a matter of minutes.

Sure you can reach for an expensive jar of a pre-made “curry” paste. But why would you when you know the fresh masala you have made from scratch in your own kitchen is (so much) tastier, has no additives/colourings, is more nutritious and not to mention cheaper. Okay my sales pitch is officially over. Now you have to try it for yourselves and let me know your thoughts!

If you missed the live cookery class but want to catch up and watch, you can do so by clicking here. Also, if you have any dish suggestions for next week’s class, comment below or drop me a message on Instagram or Facebook. I would love to hear from you!

Punjabi Murgh Masala (Chicken Curry)

Ingredients
  

For the chicken marinade:

  • 500 g skinned boneless chicken thighs cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt Plain/Greek works (a full fat type is preferred)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp garam masala

For the masala:

  • 5-7 tbsp oil or ghee, or a combination of both
  • 3 bay leaves optional
  • 3 cloves optional
  • 3 green cardamom pods optional
  • 1 black cardamom optional
  • 2 medium onions (approx 175g) very finely diced
  • 1 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves grated
  • 2 " ginger grated
  • 5 tbsp tomato passata/blitzed plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp double concentrate tomato puree, optional
  • 1-2 chillies finely chopped, (or you can use 1/4 -1/2 tsp chilli powder)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 heaped tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp sun dried fenugreek leaves/kasuri methi, ground into a powder, optional
  • Handful fresh coriander with stems finely chopped

You will also need:

  • 1 x Foil lined oven tray
  • Jug of water (room temp is fine)
  • Pestle & Mortar if you have one. Don't worry if not!

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat your grill at the maximum temperature setting. Place all "marinade" ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Place the marinated chicken on a foil lined oven tray and spread out. Grill for approximately 10 minutes or until fully cooked (the chicken should be white all the way through and have a slight golden char all over). Remove from grill and keep aside.
  • Heat the oil/ghee in a pan. Using a pestle & mortar, coarsely crush the cloves and cardamoms until coarsely ground. Then add to the oil along with the bay leaves. Immediately after, add the chopped onions along with 1 tsp salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat until soft and translucent.
  • Now add the grated garlic and ginger and mix. Continue to cook for a further 3-4 minutes until completely golden brown.
  • At this point, add the tomato passata as well as the puree and green chilli to the pan and stir for a a minute.
  • Now, reduce the heat. Then add the garam masala, coriander powder and paprika and mix well. Cook for a minute. When you see the oil begin to separate from the masala paste at the edges, add the grilled chicken. Add approximately ¼ cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly, place a lid on the pan and allow to simmer for 6-8 minutes.
  • Finish with the ground, dried fenugreek leaves and fresh coriander. Allow to simmer for a further 2-3 minutes.
  • If you like your curry to be even more saucier, you can add a little more water (you may need to adjust the seasoning slightly if you do this)
  • Taste for salt and chilli and adjust accordingly.