Monday, May 20, 2013

Balti Butter Chicken, finally

My dear Ferndale Coop Preschool was so kind to us before and after the twins were born. Much like my heavenly pediatrician in Fort Collins that made it impossible for me to ever feel 100% satisfied by a pediatrician again, I will always have too high of expectations for any new preschool opportunities.

The meals that were brought to us during my "extreme baby largeness" were so lovingly made, so complete, so beyond what I had expected to receive. A meal during tough times is heaven-sent no matter what it is, but the meals from my fellow coop parents made me want to be a better food giver. I'm still working on it.

The meal that clinched my resolve and has ended up on my own table, as well as my sister's, countless times was Balti Butter Chicken with Curried Rice and Broccoli Pilaf, Raita and naan. I had originally hoped that my children and husband wouldn't like the meal so that I could enjoy the leftovers for as long as I could make them last. However, everyone loves this meal. My son turns it into a burrito of sorts, I like to try eating it without a fork, and everyone else loves it their own way. I practically harassed my friend to give me the recipe until I finally got my hands on it. (Finally meaning I had to wait maybe... a whole day).

I make this recipe without hot spices, much to the disdain of my friends from middle eastern countries. But it's easy to make it spicy by adding red chili powder to your liking. The ingredient list is long due to the number of spices, but it's actually a very easy dish to make. Garam Masala is a mixture of spices, similar to curry, that is somewhat easy to find. I prefer the Spice Island brand because it is heavier on the cumin and lighter on the cinnamon.

Balti Butter Chicken

2/3 C plain yogurt (full fat is best :)
1/2 C almonds, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp red chili powder, optional
1/4 tsp crumbled bay leaves ( I often leave this out since I don't love bay leaves)
1/4 tsp clove powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp garam masala
4 green cardamom pods (find for cheap in a middle eastern grocer)
1 tsp grated ginger or 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 tsp salt
2.5 pounds chicken (tenders are our favorite), cubed
6 Tb butter
1 Tb olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tb cilantro, plus additional to garnish
4 Tb cream

Mix the yogurt, almonds, dry spices, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and salt into a mixing bowl. Add chicken to coat and set aside.
Melt the butter and oil in a deep saute pan. Add onion and cook about three minutes until soft. Add the chicken mixture and cook through (about 10 minutes). Fish out the cardamom pods and add the cilantro, and cream. Garnish with cilantro and serve with Curried Rice and Broccoli Pilaf, Raita, and naan. I have made naan from scratch, however I prefer the convenience, taste and texture of Stonefire brand.

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