In our family the birthday boy or girl gets to pick whatever they want for dinner regardless of what the rest of the family thinks. It doesn’t matter how fussy, plain or weird the menu is. Birthday Person picks the meal. Thems is the rules.
This year, I asked for Indian. I was a bit sneaky. I’d been meaning to test The Complete Curry Cookbook by Byron Ayanoglu and Jennifer MacKenzie, and when Mom asked what I wanted for dinner, I handed her the book with my chosen recipes tagged with Post-Its. As penance for my selfishness, I picked mildly spiced recipes. After all, while I like a bit of heat, I was born into a family of gustatory wimps. If it weren’t for my classic Christie nose, I’d suspect I’m adopted.
This gentle curry has good depth and just a hint of warmth. The book also includes an Indian-Style version, which is more authentic, but twice the work since it starts with precooked tandoori chicken. While I’m not above getting my mother to do recipe testing on the sly, I know where to draw the line.
If you buy de-boned chicken, you can have this dish on the table in half an hour. Mild, simple and relatively quick. With credentials like this, butter chicken won’t be just for birthdays anymore.
British-Style Butter Chicken
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp gingerroot, minced
- 2 tsp hot green chile pepper, minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tbsp tandoori or tikka curry paste
- 1 can (28 0z) rushed tomatoes
- 1 cup whipping cream (I used half & half and it turned out just fine)
- 1 1/2 lbs chicken, skinless, boneless, cut in 1 1/2″ cubes (white or dark is fine)
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (avoid fat-free and types that contain gelatin, they curdle)
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice, freshly squeezed
- Preheat oven to 350F. Put 1 tbsp butter in a 9 X 13″ glass baking dish. Place in hot oven for a few minutes, until melted. Swirl to coat dish.
- In a large bowl, combine chicken, yogurt and 1 tbsp tandoori paste. Coat chicken evenly. Place in single layer in buttered dish and bake for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, melt 1 tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Add ginger, chile, cumin, paprika and 1 tbsp tandoori past. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Continuing to stir, add tomatoes and bring to a boil.
- Stir in cream, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until sauce has thickened (about 10 minutes).
- Pour sauce over the chicken. Return to oven and bake another 10-15 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the chicken is cooked all the way through.
- Sprinkle with lemon or lime juice and cilantro. Serve over rice.