LOTI COOKS | OLD DELHI-STYLE BUTTER CHICKEN
As it’s National Curry Week this month, there really is no better time to cook one up. Butter chicken is just as popular in India as it is here and this Old Delhi-style version from Vivek Singh (listen to his episode of Yes Chef here) is sweet, spicy and creamy – basically everything you want from a curry. It’s actually a pretty simple dish to make, it just takes a bit of time and care to get that sauce right, and we can confirm it’s very much worth the effort.
What You Need
2 x 750g free-range poussin, skinned and each cut in half along the backbone (alternatively use 800g boned chicken thighs)
For the marinade:
120g Greek yoghurt
2tbsp ginger and garlic paste
1tbsp vegetable oil
1½ tsp salt
Juice of lemon
3tsp red chilli powder
1tsp ground cumin
½tsp garam masala
For the sauce:
5cm piece of ginger, peeled, half crushed and half finely chopped
4 garlic cloves
4 green cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
1tbsp red chilli powder
80g butter, diced
2 green chillies, slit lengthways
75ml single cream
1tsp garam masala
2tsp dried fenugreek leaves, crushed between your fingers
What You Do
1. First prepare the chicken. Make small cuts all over the chicken pieces with a sharp knife to help the marinade penetrate. To prepare the marinade, mix together the yoghurt with all the other ingredients for the marinade in a deep bowl. Smear the cut chicken with the marinade, cover and set aside in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Use chicken thighs if you can’t find or don’t want to use poussin .
2. Cook the chicken in an oven pre-heated to 220C for 13-15 minutes. You may need to turn the pieces after 8-10 minutes or so to ensure they colour evenly on both sides. Cut the cooked chicken into smaller pieces as per your preference. The chicken should not be completely cooked at this point as it will be simmered for a few more minutes in the sauce. Strain off the juice through a fine sieve and set aside.
Make sure the oven is really hot before you put the meat in to ensure you get a good colour. If you’re using chicken thighs, drop the timings slightly so they don’t cook all the way through in the oven.
3. For the sauce, slice the tomatoes in half and place in a pan with the water, crushed ginger, garlic, cardamon, cloves and bay leaf and simmer until the tomatoes have completely disintegrated. Now blend this tomato broth with a hand-held blender and pass it through a sieve to obtain a smooth purée.
This can take a while so you could always slice the tomatoes smaller to speed the process up a bit. And if you don’t have a stick blender, just use a food processor.
4. Return to a clean pan, add the chilli powder and simmer for 12-15 minutes. It should slowly begin to thicken. When the sauce turns glossy, add the chicken pieces and the reserved roasting juices. Then add a cup of water and simmer for about 3-5 minutes until the water is absorbed and the sauce returns to its original glossy consistency.
5. Slowly whisk in the butter, a couple of pieces at a time, and simmer for 6-8 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is beginning to acquire a glaze.
6. Add the chopped ginger, green chillies and cream and simmer for a minute or two longer, taking care that the sauce does not split. Stir in the salt, crushed fenugreek leaves and garam masala, then check the seasoning and add the sugar.
If you can’t find fenugreek leaves, just used powdered fenugreek instead.
7. Serve with naan bread or pilau rice.