I went to a huge restaurant in Birmingham recently who refused my request for a hotter butter chicken, telling me they only served one very mild flavour. Seriously? Just throw in some extra chilli powder, that’ll fix it.
However, the worst experience I had was in Edinburgh where they had added sultanas. Sultanas in butter chicken – hello?! Whose bright idea was that? Sultanas do NOT belong in Indian food.
Thankfully I have my own recipe I’ve been using for years. I passed it onto a friend who tells me her boyfriend loves it as well as her friends so there is more than one person other than myself who can verify it works and tastes alright.
I’ve studied other recipes but they didn’t capture the taste I was after. To me butter chicken should be a thick, creamy and buttery. A lot of these other recipes use yoghurt and other strong spices, but that is more of a tandoori mix (I have a recipe for that too – will post soon) . One version of butter chicken I made had a really watery gravy sauce – again as wrong as the sultanas debacle.
You can omit the chicken with king prawns (about 300g, deshelled) or a packet of paneer, cubed (indian cheese). The cooking time will vary obviously as prawns cook relatively quickly. You may wish to make the paneer cubes quite small so they cook quicker.
100g salted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp crushed garlic (fresh or paste)
1 tsp crushed ginger (fresh or paste)
1 – 2 tbsp tomato puree
1 green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
a handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped (extra for garnishing)*
½ – 1 tsp red chilli powder (depending on how mild to hot you like it)
100 ml single cream
2 chicken breasts, cubed
*anti coriander brigade leave this out
Serves 3 – 4
- Melt the butter in a saucepan (be careful to not let it burn!) and fry the chopped onion until golden brown on medium heat.
- Add the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute or two. You can use freshly prepared or frozen cubes bought from the supermarket. If you plan to use fresh, you can make this in advance but be sure to use it up within 3 days.
- Then add the green chilli, chopped coriander leaves, tomato puree and chilli powder and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Turn down the heat and slowly pour the cream into the mixture (stirring constantly) which will turn from dark red to a creamy, orange colour. Do not let it boil. Cook for a few minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken.
- Then add the chicken and stir for about 15 minutes, scraping the sides, till the meat has cooked thoroughly but remains soft and tender.
- Garnish with coriander leaves and serve immediately with chapattis, naan bread or rice.
Have a crack at this and let me know how you get on.
TIP 1: Before adding the chicken, blitz the sauce with a hand blender.
TIP 2: If you’re a vegetarian you can substitute the chicken with paneer. Just fry it separately first before adding it to the sauce.