Monday, February 21, 2011

Mortar Monday, Butter Chicken

It's Monday again so I decided to do another Mortar Monday.  This week features my favorite mortar & pestle.  This is my little workhorse, but she only has one job......bashing garlic.  Oh yeah, baby!!  I searched & searched for the perfect garlic pounder & finally came across this little beauty.  It's made of some type of unfinished wood so the first thing I had to do was "season" it.  See a pattern here?

 Every day for a week I lovingly rubbed mineral oil into the mortar & onto the pestle. Even though it was ready to use after a few "oilings" I continued to oil it once a week for a month.  I still oil it as needed, but after it's conditioned, with proper care, it doesn't need it that often.  

This little thing just perfect.  The pestle fits my hand & the mortar is small enough that I can easily hold it while I pound the heck out of garlic.  I use this mortar almost every time I cook something that needs garlic, which is a lot.  

In this recipe I used it to make a paste of the ginger & garlic.  I just add a little salt & start pounding & within about a minute I have a lovely, creamy paste.

This is not really a recipe for a quick dinner because of the marinade time, but perhaps it could be started in the morning & marinaded in the yogurt mixture in the fridge until dinner time that night.  I've never tried it so I don't know if the acidity would effect the texture of the chicken if it was left that long.

I marinaded the chicken with a little salt, ground red chile pepper & the lemon juice.

After about 30 mintutes I added a yogurt mixture comprised of turmeric, cumin & garam masala & let it languish for about 4 hours.

I popped the garlic & grated ginger into my garlic pounder with a little kosher salt to help with the paste making.

About 60 seconds later....voila!!!  A lovely garlic/ginger paste:

After some cooking & stewing & more chopping & stirring my meal was ready.  I served it with basmati rice, dal & naan.  I garnished quite liberally with cilantro because I like it.  Even though this is a huge plate of food, (yes, I cleaned my plate) I still had 3 more servings that were packed away & popped into the freezer.

I did include the recipe this time for myself & for any of y'all who may want to give this a try.  I used about 3 different recipes to come up with this one & realized that I really do need to write this down before I forgot what parts I used from which recipe.

This seems like a long recipe with a long list of ingredients, but most, if not all of the ingredients can be found in your local market & you probably already have a lot of the ingredients on hand.  It isn't a complicated dish & could easily be accomplished by adding everything to the pot at the same time, but I tend to cook in "layers".

I don't know that this is an authentically Indian recipe, but this is how I do it.

Butter Chicken

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken cut into 1" chunks (I used breasts but prefer boneless skinless thighs)
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground red chili pepper

1/2 C plain yogurt, divided
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala

2 T butter
1 large onion sliced into thin wedges
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 garlic cloves, smashed into paste
2 tsp fresh ginger, smashed into paste
1 T ground coriander powder
1/4 C ground almonds (I bought unsalted, raw almonds & ground them in my coffee grinder)
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 T tomato paste

Toss chicken with lemon juice, ground red chili pepper & salt.  Let this sit for about 30 minutes.
Mix 1/4 C of the yogurt with turmeric, cumin & garam masala.  Stir this into the chicken & let this marinade for about 3-4 hours.

Over medium heat, heat butter in large sauce pan or pot until frothy then toss in the onions, stirring to coat the onions.  If using unsalted butter, I add a little salt to help sweat the onions.

When the onions are tender, add garlic & ginger paste, stirring to keep the garlic from browning too quickly & becoming bitter.

After about a minute, stir in cinnamon & coriander powder followed by the tomato paste.  Stir well to incorporate the paste into the onions & keep it from sticking to the pan.

Once that is simmering add the chicken, including the marinade. Let this simmer gently on medium-low heat until chicken has cooked through.  Don't let this boil or the yogurt will break & look curdled.  I don't think it effects the taste, but it doesn't look so pretty.

When the chicken is cooked, add the almonds & diced tomatoes.  Cover & let this gently simmer for about 30 minutes.  I think I let it simmer about an hour, but 30 minutes is fine.

Adjust the seasonings as needed, then stir in the remaining 1/4 C yogurt & heat through, being careful not to let it simmer too hard.  I actually forgot to add the final 1/4 C yogurt & it was still great.

Serve this with balsamic rice.

This is not a crazy hot dish, to me, but if you're not sure, you can reduce the amount of chili powder in the first step to 1/2 tsp.

I hope you try this & I hope you like it.  I'm kinda new to Indian food, but have had fun experimenting with different recipes.  This one is a keeper for me & even my Southern bred Grandma loved it.  I did reduce the chili powder when I made it for her.

Hope you have/had a great day.


Kathleen said...

looks agamzing!

kathleen xx

Willow Branch said...

Thanks Kathleen. It really was good. You should give it a try.