Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Butterless Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken, Chicken Makhanwala, Murg Makhani, chicken tikka masala... there are many names for this amazing dish which, along with naan many times generalizes Indian cuisine. Though I do feel that Indian cuisine is too vast to be generalized by just these two dishes, I also admit that butter chicken can be addictive. But the only caveat is the amount of butter, heavy cream, cashew paste, khoya, oil or whatever the recipe calls for in order to make it rich!

In order to keep up with my new year resolution of cooking/eating good & healthful food, I have found the most amazing butter chicken recipe. I thought I will share it with you too. This recipe is based on an absoultely amazing cook book "The secrets of Fatfree Indian cooking" by Priya Kulkarni and Anita Ranade. This book is full of ideas and recipes for fat free cooking from Samosa, Batata vada to butter chicken and naan. It even has a recipe of faux coconut milk where fat free ricotta cheese is used. I haven't tried it yet, thinking a small amount of light coconut milk would be okay rather than coconut essence flavored ricotta cheese. But let me talk about this awesome butter chicken. The best part is that everyone enjoys this butter chicken without feeling guilty about the usual heavy cream/butter content and more importantly, taste is still not compromised.

Making a butter chicken is indeed a topic of debate. I had read a wonderful article written by Mr. Siddharth Kak in Times of India, where he had actually reviewed numerous recipes and secrets of many readers of his regular foodie column. Mr. Kak was in search of the best butter chicken and thought the one served at Gulzar, Hotel President, Mumbai was the best
(his childhood favorite remains Kwalitys/Moti Mahal of Delhi!). He has shared the recipe by chef Ananda Solomon and Chef Esaw Johnson. But I will write about it some other time since I just can't blog about it on the first day of the new year. :-)
All the recipes of butter chicken are indeed heavy on calories as well. Though that article and the tips were really wonderful to make a better butter chicken, I didn't try any one of them. I have modified the recipe by Mrs. Kulkarni and Mrs. Ranade to suit my family's requirements. For the original recipe, see here.

I have used two tricks of Ms. Madhur Jaffrey. First is making a tomato puree without the usual blanching/de-seedeing/peeling of tomato. Ms. Jaffrey says you can just grate the tomato as if you would grate - say carrot -even without peeling. You get a pulp and the peel is what is left behind when you are done. Ms. Jaffrey found this innovative time saver way of making pulp/puree when she was visiting Punjab. and second trick is to use red bell pepper in the chicken marinade to get the rich red color to the gravy without using any color.

The original recipe also called for tomato paste in a tin. I simply increased the amount of regular tomatoes. The real two magic ingredients in this recipe are fat-free sour cream and fat-free evaporated milk. You can even use reduced fat versions if you do not want it completely fat free.
For the vegetarians - Though I have not tried it yet, vegetarians can substitute Paneer for chicken and follow the exact same recipe to get Paneer Makhanwala. You may need to reduce the baking time if you are using Paneer.
For the eggatarians - Hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved can be used in this gravy for a simple butterless egg makhanwala.

Butterless Butter Chicken (serves 4)
8 oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1" chunks
4 tomatoes
1 tsp oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
salt to taste
1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), crushed by hand
1/4 cup nonfat sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup evaporated skim milk

Chicken Marinade
2 garlic cloves
1 red bell pepper
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 of small onion
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt

1 tsp finely chopped cilantro/coriander leaves
1 tsp evaporated milk
lemon wedges
onion rings

1. Grind all the ingredients for the marinade to a smooth paste.
2. Pour the marinade over chicken chunks. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Grate tomatoes using grater to make a pulp. The peels will be left behind and you get a tomato puree in a jiffy.
4. After the marination, arrange all the chicken cubes in one single layer on a baking tray. Preheat oven 450 F. Bake for 30 minutes. You can also use a charcoal grill or gas grill if your time permits.
5. Heat oil in a nonstick wok. Add garlic. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Do not let the garlic brown.
6. Add tomatoes. Bring to boil. Cook for 5 minutes till the liquid evaporates.
7. Reduce the heat. Simmer on a low flame. Add paprika, ketchup, salt and kasoori methi. Stir well. Add sour cream and water. Mix well.
8. Add the baked chicken cubes. Increase the heat. Simmer for 1 minute. Stir in sugar, garam masala. Mix well.
9. Add evaporated milk. Simmer for 2 minutes.
10. Garnish with cilantro, evaporated milk, lemon wedges and onion rings.
11. Serve with Naan or simple rice/pullao.
Note -
1. You can use ready made Tandoori chicken masala or paste instead of marinade, to get an authentic color & taste.
2. Kashmiri chilies can be used instead of red bell pepper to get wonderful, red color.
3. I have heard of "Ratanjyot" to get the color. But I am not sure if this is a name of chili or something else. If anyone knows about it, please enlighten me.:-)
4. In order to make a tomato puree usual way, you need to cut a cross on the tomatoes. Drop them in a hot boiling water for a minute. Take them out and put them on an ice bath. Remove the now wilted peels. and then mash them.
5. It's advisable to eat the butter chicken as soon as it is ready. But if you are going to eat after some time, it may become thick and the masala may just cling to the chicken pieces. In that case, pour some more evaporated milk and reheat on the stove top.
6. If you do not have mughlai garam masala, use any garam masala including commerical brands.
Credits -
1. The wonderful book "Secrets of Fat-free Indian Cooking" by Priya Kulkarni & Anita Ranade. Though I have not tried all the recipes, I am really happy that I bought this book for the awesome results I got with these butterless butter chicken and fat-free Naans.
2. Ms. Madhur Jaffrey for her time saving tip of making tomato puree and using red bell pepper as a color for the gravies.


LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs