A very Happy 2009 to you all! I hope together we can make 2009 as delicious as 2008 was.
(There was supposed to be one neat peak of ketchup for each month of 2009 but I counted wrong as there are only ten. So this kind of fell flat but I like the picture so much that I want you to imagine the other two and I hope your 2009 is filled with new highs and lots of color.)
For some of us, it's time to pull out that trusty tape measure and start making New Year's resolutions. Or stand on the weighing scale and swear to make it to the gym.
Not me. Uh-uh. Never. I don't make New Year's resolutions. If I need to change something, why wait till the end of the year? Besides, I am looking forward to snowshoeing in the mountains every weekend - almost - for the next six weeks so I am hoping that all those extra inches that love my short frame so, will just melt away.
Our New Year's celebrations are usually low-key with just the three of us ringing in the New Year, first at the Indian Standard Time, then at all the time zones within the US. By the time we're done, those we called earlier in the day call us back to wish us and it gets really confusing after a while, as everyone tries to figure out if we've already spoken or if they spoke to someone we spoke to and thought they had spoken to us instead. Anyway, it's just plain mayhem!
Medha and I have been freaking out on Guitar Hero and I'm the cat's whiskers on some songs already - so what if it's at the Easy level! Her Dad, who kicks ass at Wii Sports, can't hold a candle to me! Medha plays the drums while I play bass, cos the drums are too complicated. There are 3 drums, 2 cymbals and a foot pedal. The mind boggles at that! My eye-brain-hand coordination has improved considerably but not enough to work the drums. I now manage to hit both the colored button and the strum at the same time on the wireless guitar. If only my aerobics instructor could see me now! She wouldn't walk up to me, grab hold of my hands to bring them down and say "Stop!" with a deeply pained expression in her eyes. The Eye of the Tiger and Beat it are our favorite songs. So we rocked late into the night and let the phone ring...
But, before the ball dropped in Times Square and the Clintons hugged each other like there was no Monica Lewinsky between them, we had a scrumptious dinner. We said goodbye to 2008 on a rather rich note. Murg makhani. Yup, butter chicken with just enough butter and cream to make it rich and luscious.
It is a two step process where the chicken is made tandoori-style and then released into a delicately flavored buttery tomato sauce. I say delicate because the sauce is sans onions or garam masala. It rides on the tang of tomatoes, lots of ginger and garlic, the inherent buttery goodness of cashewnuts and of course, butter and cream. It's so good that the serving spoon is always licked clean and the bowl in which it is served looks like it was just pulled out of the dishwasher.
I base my recipe on Makhani Chooze from one of my fave recipe books, Prashad: Cooking with Indian Masters by J Inder Singh Kalra.
Jen, my dear, this recipe is especially for you!
- 1.5 lbs of boneless chicken, breast or thigh meat
- 2-3 tsp red chilli powder
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 tsp salt (use more depending on your taste)
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp grated garlic
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- a good pinch of saffron threads
- 2 tsp red paprika
- butter for basting
- Rub red chilli powder, lime juice and salt onto the chicken and set it aside for about 15 minutes.
- Whisk together yogurt and cream and then add grated ginger, grated garlic, garam masala, saffron and paprika and mix well. This is your main marinade.
- Add this marinade to your chicken and ensure that the chicken is coated well with this mixture.
- Marinate it for at least 4 hours for best results.
- Arrange the chicken on a rack with a tray underneath to collect the drippings. Discard the marinade.
- Set your oven to broil on high and broil the chicken for 5 minutes. Turn it over, baste with butter and broil for another 5 minutes. If you use chicken breasts then adjust the time accordingly.
- At this point, you have several options: serve it with roast potatoes and salad or eat it as is and hope for some leftovers so that you can move on to Step 2. Or put a hand of steel on your heart and move on to Step 2.
- If you use breast meat, don't forget to make a few deep incisions so that the marinade can seep in as much as possible.
- The original recipe calls for a drop of orange color. I prefer to use red paprika instead.
- I made this without garam masala last week as we had visitors who were not big on spice and it worked just fine.
- While 4 hours is preferable, I have marinated it for as little as 2 hours and the chicken has not been any the worse for it.
- If you like the burnt bits on your meat, broil the chicken until that point.
- I have tried cooking the marinade with the drippings from the tray but it wasn't very popular. The chicken is very moist and tender and has a fair coating of the spices that it does not need any gravy with it when served tandoori-style.
- 1/2 stick butter
- 3 tbsp grated ginger
- 3 tbsp grated garlic
- 1.5 cans of diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
- 3-4 Thai chillies. slit vertically and deseeded (use more if you want to up the heat)
- 5 tsp ground cashewnuts
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (or cayenne pepper and red paprika)
- 1/3 cup cream
- salt to taste
- chopped cilantro for garnish
- Melt butter in a kadhai and add grated ginger and grated garlic.
- Stir over medium heat for a few minutes until the fibers turn a golden color.
- Add diced tomatoes and about 2 cups of water.
- Cover and cook down until most of the water has evaporated.
- While this is cooking, chop the tandoori-style chicken into bite-size pieces.
- Blend the cooked down chunky sauce into a smooth mixture using a hand blender or in your blender. If your blender is like mine, you may want to cool the mixture quickly using a few ice cubes.
- Pour the smooth mixture back into the kadhai and add the chopped ginger and green chillies. Cook for a few minutes and then add ground cashewnuts and stir to ensure they mix well into the sauce.
- If you like, adjust the sauce to a thickness of your liking by adding some water.
- Add salt and Kashmiri chilli powder and bring the sauce to a boil.
- Gently add the chopped chicken into the sauce and simmer for 7-8 minutes.
- Stir in heavy cream and remove from heat.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with naan, roti or with rice. The choice is yours.
- The original recipe called for 2 sticks of butter and 2/3 cups cream in the sauce. I think that much is rather unnecessary. Also, I don't particularly care for a floating layer of grease on my chicken.
- I used almonds instead of cashewnuts yesterday and it worked just as well.
- I used half the number of green chillies. Add more green chillies to make it spicier if you like.
- And, yes, there really is all that ginger in the sauce. Do not reduce the amount of chopped ginger as it gives a lovely bite to the sauce.