Whoever invented the ever-so-rich-finger-licking-melt-in-your-mouth delicious Butter Chicken, truly did not take my whims and fancies into consideration! Let me explain…
I’ve never enjoyed eating Butter Chicken. Yes, you heard me right, and no, I’m not kidding! Whenever I refuse to order this age-old dish at any restaurant, people dining at my table often look at me like I’m from out of space. But it’s true, I don’t quite care much for this dish that is considered to be the epitome of the Indian cuisine. Though Hubby Dear has been seen wiping his plate clean of this dish whenever he gets the (good) fortune to dig into it, being the sweetheart that he is, he has not once asked me to cook it at home. You see, I hate cooking with cream and/or milk. There’s something about adding cream/milk to my food that makes me look at it with such torment. While I happily add dollops of cream to make my own chocolate desserts, adding it to my actual meal gives me the jitters. So clearly, Butter Chicken, which is as rich as the amount of cream and/or milk added to it, steered clear from my palate.
But then now, I also have Baby Dear’s whims and fancies to cater to. This roly-poly little person is infamous for watching The Food Network (I only have myself to blame of course!!), pointing to anything that looks even remotely delicious on the screen,and request that I serve him that for dinner. Need I add, his way of requesting something to be cooked sounds much like this, “I WANT THIS DINNER!!!!”. Yes, the letters in caps are there to make a point. Just the other day, I was catching up on one of my favourite Indian cooking shows by Sanjeev Kapoor and he just happened to be making Butter Chicken. Being an ardent fan of chicken, Baby Dear almost fell off his 2-foot car. I just had to oblige.
It was already too late to defrost the chicken, so I used paneer instead and created my low-fat version of this crowd pleaser. Paneer Makhani is the vegetarian version of Butter Chicken and the sauce for both dishes can be used interchangeably. Try this recipe once, and I promise you that you’ll come back asking for more. Just remember to leave all that butter and cream at the door!
Prep time: 10 min | Cooking time: 20-25 min | Serves: 4
400-500 gms of Paneer, cut in 2-inch long rectangles
4 riped tomatoes, pureed
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tbsp fine ground cashews
1/2 cup plain yogurt, beaten fine
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
2 tbsp light cooking oil
salt, to taste
water as needed
Heat oil in a deep non-stick pan and saute ginger-garlic paste till fragrant. Add tomato puree and cook till it begins to dry and give out oil.
Add red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala, cashew powder, fenugreek leaves and tomato paste, and fry for a minute or two. Add beaten curd, stirring well to blend in. Add water to make a thinner consistency and allow it to come to a boil.
Stir in salt and add paneer pieces. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, adding extra water if required.
NOTE: For a vegan version, substitute paneer with firm tofu and use dairy-free yogurt instead.