Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

On our first official date together, my husband took me to his favorite Indian restaurant. I had never had Indian food before and was hesitant, but he assured me that I would not be disappointed. He certainly took a risk, but we did eventually get married. 🙂 And, to this day, we still enjoy Indian cuisine.

As I mentioned in my last post, I try to avoid eating out by planning our meals ahead of time. But we don’t have to sacrifice our favorite restaurant dish because I can easily make it at home.

Chicken Makhani (also known as Indian Butter Chicken) is a flavorful dish. The one I made today came from an issue of The Costco Connection magazine, and it’s one of the easier versions I have tried out.

INGREDIENTS LIST
2 tbsp canola oil
2 boneless chicken breasts
3 tsp garam masala, divided
1 29-oz can tomato puree
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne (more if you like the heat)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp brown sugar
6 tbsp chilled butter, cut up
1 cup heavy cream
sliced toasted almonds, optional

If you want to give it a try, here is what I did. I made some modifications to the original recipe to save time (used canned tomato puree, instead of making it from fresh tomatoes) and to save money (used only 2 chicken breasts  sliced lengthwise and vegetables as filler items).

To make the chicken, heat 2 tbsp canola oil over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and sear, around 3 minutes per side. (Note: Usually, I cut up the chicken breasts before cooking them, but I was just being lazy today. The original recipe did not say to do this, but I think I like it better cut up anyway.)
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Add 1 tsp garam masala and 2 tbsp water. Cover and cook until tender, around 10-15 minutes. Although a spice, like garam masala, may be found at your local grocery store, it will probably be less expensive to buy at an Indian market, if you have one nearby. (Funny thing happened today … I misread the tsp for tbsp when measuring the garam masala. Let’s just say the dish was a tad bit spicier than usual.)
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While the chicken is cooking, this might seem like a good deal of waiting time. Some of you may want to work on the sauce at the same time that you’re cooking the chicken. I personally don’t like having too many pans to wash, so I usually wait until the chicken is done and use the same pan to cook the sauce. During the 10-15 minutes that the chicken is cooking, you can wash the dishes, sweep the floor, read some blogs, or write a blog post.

To make the sauce, combine the tomato puree, 1 tbsp tomato paste, and 1 cup of water. Cook at medium high heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will bubble and splatter, so keep it covered, except when you have to stir. Be careful when you lift the lid to stir. I use the lid to shield myself from unwanted hot splatters of sauce.
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During this 20 minute wait, you can measure out the next ingredients, so they are ready to toss into the sauce. 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cayenne (more if you like the heat), 1 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp brown sugar, 2 tsp garam masala. You’ll probably have time to blog some more, but don’t forget to stop now and then to stir the sauce.
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By this time, the sauce should be very thick with the water almost completely evaporated. Add 6 tbsp chilled butter, cut up into chunks. Stir until the butter melts and combines with the sauce.
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Add 1 cup heavy cream and the chicken. Cover and cook 8-10 minutes more.
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Add sliced toasted almonds to garnish (optional). Serve with rice and veggies. As an alternative to rice, we like to eat this dish with naan (Indian bread), but we can’t always find it at our store. One of these days, I will have to learn how to make this delicious bread from scratch.
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Do you have a recipe that reminds you of a favorite restaurant dish?

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