We love Indian food, but despite the ethnic food riches available in Las Vegas, we’ve struggled a bit to find much good Indian cooking here (though there is one new candidate). In any case, one of my favorite dishes has always been Chicken Tikka Masala. I know it’s not very “real” Indian cuisine, and it’s not particularly fiery, but I love it all the same. This recipe isn’t tikka masala, but it’s really close — and, maybe, even better. The sauce is a rich, mild, creamy tomato-based one that’s got really deep and comforting flavors. Of course, anything with this much butter should! But in any case, definitely try this one out. If you’ve got leftover chicken or turkey laying around, you could just use that and skip the separate marinating and cooking, and just put the meat into the sauce. You’ll miss a little of the flavor, but not much. This curry recipe makes enough for 6 people at $1.85 per serving.
Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken), from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s The River Cottage Meat Book
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
For the Tikka Marinade:
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
2 tablespoons garam masala
2 teaspoons chile powder
2 teaspoons ground mixed spice (some mix of cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and ground ginger)
2 teaspoons ground fenugreek
golf ball-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
2 to 4 green chiles, finely chopped
For the Tomato Sauce:
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
small nugget of fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 to 3 small green chiles, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
For the Makhani Sauce:
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons tomato puree
4 teaspoons honey
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fenugreek
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon black pepper
Mix together all of the ingredients for the tikka marinade and then add the chicken. Let the chicken marinate for at least 4 hours in the fridge, although overnight is preferable if possible.
Take out the marinated chicken from the fridge and grill it when you are ready to make the curry. We put our chicken on the bbq, but you can easily cook it on a griddle, or even roast the chicken breasts in the oven.
Put all the ingredients for the tomato sauce into a pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer the sauce for 20 minutes until it has nicely thickened. Rub the sauce through a sieve and set aside the strained sauce.
To complete the sauce, melt the butter in a large pan, add the ground cumin, and let it sizzle gently for a couple of minutes. Add the reserved tomato sauce, and bring it back to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree, honey, cream, fenugreek, lime juice, and black pepper, and continue to simmer, stirring gently, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is rich, thick, and creamy. Finally, add the cooked chicken, mix and heat through, simmering for a final 5 minutes.
Serve the curry with plain white rice and lots of naan bread to soak up all that creamy sauce.