Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Butter Chicken

I've gotten quite a few requests for this recipe and I actually just sent it out to a friend just now.  Since it's all typed up for her in an email, I figured half the work is done for my post!  Copy and paste my friends.

I'm not sure if my version is super authentic and I do have 2 methods (asterik'd at the bottom) of making this dish, but it's always received well by everyone and I think it tastes better than the butter chicken you get at some Indian restaurants. Some use ketchup or use too much tomato, so it tastes sweet, or they use way too much cream, so I feel like I'm eating milk over rice, and most of the time, the dish is dyed with red dye. Eew. 

My usual version is a little less heavy on the cream and butter, but traditional butter chicken is made with plenty of both! As usual, feel free to adjust both to your liking, it doesn't affect the amount made really, just the richness (and fat content) of the dish. 

People think it's a difficult dish, but it's not.  It's pretty quick to put together and simple, but it definitely doesn't taste or present that way!

Butter Chicken:

2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1/2 packet tandoori masala (I used Shaan, no dyes)
1 cup yogurt
oil (whatever you like)
1 pat butter, or more if desired
1/2 large onion diced
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbs garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbs garlic/ginger paste
2 tbs tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream, or more if desired.
Cilantro, chopped (some for the curry, some for garnish)

Marinate the chicken chunks with masala, yogurt, salt and pepper.  Let sit at the very least for 30 min, but longer the better!

In a pot, heat the oil, add the butter to melt.  Cook onions with the cinnamon sticks until the onions are translucent and getting fried (don't brown).  Add the tomato paste and let it caramelize, like a minute or two. Then add the garam masala, cinnamon, and garlic/ginger paste.  Cook that with the onion/tomato paste mixture for a couple of minutes until you smell the spices.

Throw in the marinated chicken and I usually use the half cup of water to clean out the bowl to get the marinade out and put that in with the chicken also.  Just like my mom does.  Let that come to a simmer.  Add the cream and let simmer and reduce until cooked.  Add a little chopped cilantro and stir in.  Feel free to add more water or cream if needed.  You want the consistency of the curry to not be water-y, but creamy and rich looking.  Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati rice and/or naan!

**The second way I make this dish, if I have the time, I bake the chicken pieces in the marinade at 350 in the oven until they are halfway cooked.  Then I just throw that into the curry that's been made on the stove and let it all come together.  You get more tender chicken this way, but that's only when I have extra time.  It tastes just as awesome when the chicken is cooked with everything on the stove and it's less dishes :)**


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer Eats

I'm here sitting in bed munching on a cookie and spilling crumbs in the bed, much to my hubby's dismay.  I'm trying to hide the evidence before he gets out of shower...

It's Ramadan or Ramazan time for us Muslims out there...a time for peace, reflection, and some praying.  It's honestly one of my favorite times of the year because all Muslims are doing the same thing at the same time and it's comforting and gives us this sense of community.  We come together during this time to do good for ourselves and for others.   

This year Ramazan landed during our Texas summer, where the heat is not to be messed with.  The fasts are long and challenging without the help of water.  Our days of fasting begin with "sehri," which is the morning meal eaten before the sun comes up.  Usually I make eggs or have almond butter and toast and at least 2 glasses of water.  At night though...that's when my real cooking begins.  For some reason, during Ramazan I crave really random foods, and tend to experiment/have more fun in the kitchen. Sadly, this year we have been eating out more than in, mostly at other people's homes for iftar parties.

Cooking during Ramazan puts my mind at ease and takes it off of the hunger.  Seems odd to some that something that involves food when fasting is therapeutic, but for me it works that way.  I can watch hours of cooking shows and read food blogs and that gets me through.

Tonight I put together something very quick and summer-y, so as not to stand over a hot stove longer than I needed to.  I've been seeing recipes for watermelon salad all over Pinterest and the web, and of course, started craving.  Watermelon SCREAMS summer!  Paired with cool cucumber and mint, it was delicious, fresh, and summer.  I decided to make shrimp as the main course, literally throwing things together that I had on hand! And there we have it, iftar.

Spicy Shrimp:
2 lbs large-jumbo shrimp (deveined, shells on)
olive oil
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt
cracked black pepper
juice of 2 lemons
hot sauce (your favorite)
minced garlic
cayenne pepper
1/2 stick salted butter
parsley, chopped

Rinse shrimp under cold water and lay out in a single layer on large baking sheet or dish.  Drizzle over olive oil, Worcesteshire, lemon juice, and hot sauce.  Sprinkle on sea salt, a hefty helping of black pepper, a sprinkle of cayenne based on your spice level.  Throw on some minced garlic and sprinkle on the parsley.

Cut the butter into pats and lay on top of the shrimp.  Slip into the broiler for about 10 minutes.  Take out and let rest for about 5 minutes.  Dig in!  Use warm crusty bread to sop up the delicious juices!

Watermelon Salad:

2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1/2 cucumber, diced1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives
1/2 cup feta
1 tbs chopped mint
balsamic glaze (bought or made w/ 1 cup balsamic vinegar and 1 tbs brown sugar heated to a boil, then heat reduced to a simmer until a syrup forms)

Combine, toss, and chill. Yum, yum!