First things first. This is not Chicken Tikka Masala. There are some similarities but someone who heard I was making it said, ‘Oh you mean Chicken Tikka Masala’ and I wanted to clear that up. They’re both wonderful dishes but there are also real differences between the two. Butter chicken is a typical Punjabi dish which is a rich, creamy and yes, buttery dish that can be made as mild or as spicy as you like. Although similar, Butter Chicken originated in northwestern India and eastern Pakistan while Chicken Tikka Masala hails from the UK and incorporates different spices and uses very little butter.
Butter Chicken is one of my favorite Indian dishes and it was time to make it in my own kitchen. I have a great friend from India who is a terrific cook and If I’m thinking about making something Indian inspired I’m heading to Ansh blog Spice Roots first since I’ve had her food and I know I can trust that if it’s there, it is good. Lucky for me, Ansh and I decided to get together and cook this dish. She had not been to my new house yet so it was especially fun to have her come over for the day and we had a great time in the kitchen. We get each other; that joy of preparation that some can not begin to understand; all cemented by enjoying the fruits of our labors. I had promised a cocktail; she was taking meds for a cold so that did not happen and I won’t forget I still owe her!
Ansh had joined a local bloggers group that I started a couple of years ago; we would get together once a month just to get to know each other and of course share some food. She brought a dish called Chicken 65 to our gathering and I have to tell you, I LOVE that dish. It became sort of pathetic each time she would be coming to something that I would beg her to bring some Chicken 65 to the event, so this was a big deal; there was no Chicken 65 in sight and I was good with that. Still, I am reminded I have to make it and share the love here…very soon.
I’ll be honest; if I think I like foods with heat; compared to Ansh I’m still that girl from NC who couldn’t even touch jalapeno when I first moved to Denver. She will typically ‘Americanize’ a dish for me and even then I’m often left fanning my tongue. She did her magic on this recipe too but I still needed that dollop of cold yogurt on top to temper the heat and enjoyed it so much I’ve shown you how I love to serve it. Not just to cool the heat but also because I love the juxtaposition of a hot dish with that touch of cold and creamy yogurt. It was just perfect. I bought the na’an bread but I think we’ll make that next; another friend has mastered Ansh’s recipe for na’an and said it was easy. This time buying it from Costco was easier but I’m game!
Prophetic it seems I’m sure but I had just received a sample case of Tillamook Yogurt and we were both so impressed with this new addition to their product line. Their Greek yogurt is amazingly thick and creamy; we used it in the recipe and dolloped a big spoonful on top and it was perfect. Both Ansh and I are particular about ingredients in the foods we buy and we love that Tillamook is truly an all natural product. I’ve long loved their cheeses and now I’ve got a newfound love for their yogurt. So good.
You must try this dish…simply decrease the amount of jalapeno peppers a bit for a less spicy version. Or make it as is and add a big dollop of yogurt like I did; it’s fabulous! Either way; try making your own Naan bread like we did; it is the BEST!
Indian Butter Chicken
- 8-10 boneless chicken thighs
- 2 cans diced tomatoes and juice
- 4 jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh ginger root peeled and chopped
- 10 Tbsp 1-1/4 sticks butter
- 4 tsp ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup yogurt
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds roast on the stovetop in a small pan.
- ¼ cup firmly packed minced cilantro
- Cut the chicken pieces neatly into quarters.
- Put tomatoes, jalapeno and ginger in a blender or food processor and blend to a fine puree.
- Place 1 stick of butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. When the foam begins to subside, add the chicken pieces, a few at a time, and sear until they are nicely browned all over (about 2-3 minutes per batch). Remove them with a slotted spoon into a bowl and put aside.
- Add the 4 teaspoons of cumin and the paprika to the butter in the pan and cook, stirring rapidly, for 10-15 seconds. Add the tomato mixture and cook, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened (about 5-8 minutes), stirring constantly to prevent sticking and burning.
- Add salt, cream, yogurt and chicken pieces (with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl) to the pan. Gently stir the chicken to coat the pieces evenly and thoroughly with the sauce. Be careful not to break the fragile chicken pieces. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the fat begins to separate from the sauce and a thin glaze appears on the surface (about 10 minutes). Check and stir often (but only one or two stirs at a time) to ensure that the sauce is not burning.
- Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) of butter, garam masala, and roasted cumin.
- Turn off the heat, and let the dish stand, covered, for 1/2 hour before serving. When ready to serve, heat thoroughly, check for salt, and fold in the chopped coriander leaves. Serve with rice and na'an.
This post was sponsored by Foodie.com; I was also provided with a sample case of Tillamook Greek Yogurt that I used for my recipe. All commentary is my own.