Weeknight Cooking: Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

Before we begin, please be aware that there is a Boxer Short Advisory on this dish. That is, if you are wearing boxers while eating this dish, rest assured, they are being roxored.

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This is an Indian dish with a tomato base. The sauce of the dish is both sweet and savory, and very satisfying.

The first question I received about this dish is the one that I always receive about Indian food: Is it spicy?

The answer: Not so much. In fact, this is less spicy than the Chicken Curry with Golden Raisins dish that I shared a while back. Like most Indian dishes, the spice level can be changed by the person preparing the dish. I do not add extra spice, but the chef is more than welcome to change that according to their taste preference.

I was really concerned about this dish because the list of ingredients is very, very long, but if you take a second to read it through, most of the list is spices. And of the spices, a lot of those are repeats. To abate some fears of a long and unmanageable recipe, I have taken the liberty of bolding the items that are not spices.

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Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil (repeat!)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 teaspoon garam masala (repeat!)
1 pinch cayenne pepper (repeat!)

As you can already see, the list has been cut in half because of the spices.

In a large pot (I used a frying pan so I could take pictures more easily), saute shallot and onion in peanut oil until translucent (about 2 minutes).

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Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger garlic paste, 1 teaspoon garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Allow to cook for 1 minute.

Quick note about the paste: I couldn’t find ginger-garlic paste at the supermarket, so I just used 1/2 Tablespoon of ginger paste and 1/2 Tablespoon of garlic paste.

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Add tomato puree, half-and-half, and yogurt. Stir to combine, then turn the burner down low. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

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While the tomato sauce is simmering, take out another frying pan and heat up another tablespoon of peanut oil on medium heat. Add chicken and cook for about 5 – 7 minutes.
Reduce heat and season with 1 teaspoon garam masala and cayenne.

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Stir in about 1/3 of the sauce and simmer until liquid has reduced and chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Pour the rest of the sauce into the chicken.

Eat!

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