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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Claire's Butter Chicken

When my 3 year old granddaughter likes something as delicious and exotic as Indian Butter chicken, it's time for me to create a recipe just for her. So here it is princess.

1 kg boneless chicken skin removed
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
1 tsp red chilli powder
6 cloves
8-10 peppercorns
1" stick of cinnamon
2 bay leaves
8-10 almonds
Seeds from 3-4 pods of cardamom
1 cup fresh yoghurt (use a rich type)
3 tbsps vegetable/canola/sunflower cooking oil
2 onions chopped
2 tsps garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsps coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
400g/ 14 oz of chopped tomatoes, ground into a smooth paste in a food processor
1/2 litre chicken stock
2 tbsps dried fenugreek leaves
3 tbsps unmelted, soft butter
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves to garnish

Mix the chicken, lime juice, salt and red chilli powder in a large, non-metallic bowl. Cover and allow to marinate for 1 hour.

Heat a flat pan or griddle on medium heat and gently roast (stirring frequently) the cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, bay leaves and almonds till they darken slightly. Cool and add the cardamom seeds. Now grind into a coarse powder in a clean, dry coffee grinder.

Mix the yoghurt, above whole spice powder (from previous step), coriander, cumin and turmeric powders together and add them to the chicken. Allow to marinate for another hour.

Heat the oil in a deep pan on medium heat. When hot, add the onions. Fry till a pale golden brown in color and then add the ginger and garlic pastes. Fry for a minute.
Add only the chicken from the chicken-spice mix and fry till sealed (chicken will turn opaque and the flesh will go from pink to whitish in color).

Now add the tomato paste, chicken stock, fenugreek and remaining part of the yogurt-spice mix to the chicken.

Cook till the chicken is tender and the gravy is reduced to half its original volume.

Melt the butter in another small pan and then pour it over the chicken.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with Naan and Kaali Daal.


4 cups White bread Flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Milk
1 tbsp Sugar
1 Egg
4 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Nigella seeds (known as kalonji in India and in the United States they are called charnushka)

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and make a well in the middle.
Mix the sugar, milk, eggs 2tbsp of oil in a bowl.

Pour this into the center of the flour and knead adding water if necessary to form soft dough.

Add the remaining oil, knead again, then cover with damp cloth and allow the dough to stand for 15 minutes. Knead the dough again and cover and leave for 2-3 hours.
About half an before the naan are required, turn on the oven to 450F.

Divide the dough into 8 balls and allow rest for 3-4 minutes.

Sprinkle a baking sheet with nigella seeds and put it in the oven to heat while the dough is resting.

Shape each ball of dough with the palms to make an oval shape.

Bake the naan until puffed up and golden brown. Serve hot.

Kaali Daal (black lentils)

1 cup split urad daal (black lentils)
2 large onions sliced thin
2 green chillies slit
Salt to taste
A pinchof asafetida
2 large tomatoes chopped into cubes
2" piece of ginger jullienned
1 tbsp garlic minced
2 tsps coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 cup thickened/ double/ heavy cream, whisked
2 tbsps vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil
2 tbsps ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds


Soak the Urad Daal (black lentils) in a bowl of water, overnight if possible.
Boil the soaked lentils with 3 cups of water, 1 sliced onion, green chillies, asafetida and salt to taste till they are very tender.

In a separate pan, heat the oil and fry the other onion till soft. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute.

Add the tomatoes, coriander, cumin and red chilli powders and fry for another 5 minutes.

Add the boiled lentils and enough water to make a thick gravy-like consistency and mix well. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Pour in the whisked cream and mix well. Turn off the heat.

In another small pan, heat the ghee and when hot add the cumin seeds and cook till they stop spluttering.

Pour this into the lentils (it will all sizzle) and mix well.