Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Indian Feast Part 4: Chicken Makhani

Chicken Makhani, also known as butter chicken, is a really common "beginner" Indian dish because of how mild and familiar the flavor palate is. This dish, though slightly time consuming because of the marinating time and multiple steps, is delicious and worth the effort. This recipe can serve 4 people.

Chicken Marinade Ingredients:
2 lbs boneless chicken, cut into chunks (I used thighs because I like dark meat, it's more moist)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup plain yogurt (I used greek yogurt)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 cloves garlic, grated
1-1/2 tablespoons grated ginger
bamboo or wooden skewers

Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of cloves
pinch of cardamom
8 cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoons grated ginger
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of almonds
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup heavy cream
**optional: cayenne pepper if you want the sauce to be spicy
Start by marinating the chicken in lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper. This should marinate for 20 minutes. The acidity of the lemon juice helps to tenderize the meat.

Then add in a mixture of yogurt, garam masala, turmeric, grated ginger, and grated garlic. Let this marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, up to 1 day.
While the chicken marinates, you can soak bamboo skewers in water so they won't burn. If you have metal skewers, they obviously don't need to be soaked.
Now it's time to make the sauce. Here's what grated garlic and ginger look like.
Puree the canned tomato (do not drain, add in all the juices from the can) and the almonds. I used a blender but a food processor would work just as well.
Skewer the chicken and cook on a sheet pan in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the chicken is completely cooked. The skewers should be rotated once halfway through the cooking time. The yogurt marinade does a great job with keeping the chicken really moist and delicious.
While the chicken is cooking, warm butter, cinnamon stick, and just a pinch of cloves and cardamom in a shallow pot. When the butter starts to bubble add in the tomato and almond puree mixture. Let it come to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Let the mixture cook for 20 minutes until it's a thick paste. At that point, add in the grated ginger, garlic, sugar, and boiling water.
Just before serving, add the chicken (removed from the skewers) and heavy cream and stir. The butter will separate a bit but it's okay. If you've ever been to an Indian restaurant, you'll see that happen to most dishes.
Serve over rice and enjoy.

Next up: Part 5, vindaloo.

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