May 8, 2020

Butter Chicken

Where do I even begin describing my love for Butter Chicken. It has been my most favorite dish ever since childhood and no other dish has taken its' place. 
My very first cooking experiment was in my 7th  grade when I was living in Mumbai and it began with Shaheen's Butter Chicken recipe. Shaheen lived in our neighboring building and it would be an understatement to say that her mom made 'the best dishes ever'. Every evening my sister, myself and other kids in our neighborhood would gather outside to play Badminton or Hide-n-seek and Shaheen would often bring some snacks from home, sometimes even curries n chapathis for us to taste and they were all always mind blowing. So damn tasty!

I somehow persuaded her to give me any recipe to try from her mom's recipe book, and she gave the recipe to her favorite dish. I was so excited to get the recipe and I remember that I asked my mom to not step into the kitchen while I made the dish. I probably made a lot of mess and did inaccurate measurements b'coz mummy had to come and help out a bit here and there while I made it but finally I made my first ever dish, Butter Chicken! To me it tasted quite good, but not as good as what I had tasted from Shaheen's, but pretty decent for a 7th graders first time cooking venture.
I have lost that original recipe now over the years, but thanks to Youtube and tons of blogs with wonderful recipes I've made it several times, atleast whenever I have heavy cream at hand. 

Butter Naan or Garlic Naan is our favorite accompaniment to have with Butter Chicken. But fragrant Basmati rice is another wonderful option to have with this creamy delicious dish. If you want to indulge yourself a bit more, maybe make some Jeera Rice.  Basmati rice, naan or chapathi is what goes best with Butter Chicken. 

Since Butter Chicken is more on the creamy side and less on the spice it's a rich and superb dish for kids. Both my little ones love this dish and although Manish usually enjoys whatever I make, he always prefers dishes that puts his tongue on! 

This time it was Manish's college going cousin bro, Saurav, who actually made this dish pretty much from start to end.  He had come to visit us during his spring break early March but had to stay back due to the covid-19 lockdown. We and the kids have been totally enjoying his company here with us. He loves any chicken dish and was game to make it from scratch. 

Saurav chose a recipe he had already tried with his hostel friends from HomeCooking and it came out really good. I just helped with gathering the ingredients, grinding the puree and taking pictures....haha! 

Butter Chicken
Serves : 3-4

You’ll Need
To Marinate Chicken
1 Lb Boneless Chicken (Breast or Thigh meat)
1 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic paste
1 Tablespoon Thick Yogurt
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice / White Vinegar
2 teaspoons Kashmiri Red Chilli powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
Salt - as needed
1 Tablespoon Oil/Butter (to fry marinated chicken)

For the Gravy paste
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Oil
1 Large Onion (chopped)
1 Tablespoon Ginger-Garlic paste
2 Large Tomatoes (chopped)
¼ cup Cashew Nuts
1 Tablespoon Kashmiri Red Chilli powder
1 teaspoon Corriander powder
1 teaspoon Cumin powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Sugar
½ cup Water or as needed
Salt – as needed

Final Butter chicken gravy
1 Tablespoon Butter
teaspoon Kashmiri Red Chilli powder
1 teaspoon Kasuri Methi
½ cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoon chopped Corriander leaves

Marinate the Chicken
Cut the boneless chicken into 1” cubes and marinate by mixing with everything under ‘To Marinate Chicken’ for atleast 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Fry the chicken
In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter or oil, add the marinated chicken cubes and fry them until the chicken is fully cooked. Transfer the cooked chicken onto a plate and keep aside.

Making the gravy paste
1. In the same pan, heat butter and oil and add Onions and Ginger garlic paste. Sauté until Onions caramelize into a golden brown color. You can add some salt to quicken the cooking.
2. Next add in the Tomatoes and cashew nuts and sauté until the tomatoes turn soft.
3. Add Kashmiri chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and garam masala, sugar and salt (as needed) and some water, cook for 2-3 more minutes and turn off the heat.
4. Once the mix has cooled, take a grinder and grind everything into a smooth paste. (I added some more water while grinding to make the paste smoother and to add more gravy)

Putting together the Butter chicken dish
1. Again in the same pan, heat 1 Tablespoon Butter and add 1 teaspoon of kashmiri red chilli powder and roast it for a minute.
2. Now add the pureed gravy paste and bring the gravy to a boil
3. Add the fried chicken pieces, kasuri methi , heavy cream and simmer for a minute.
4. Garnish with chopped Corriander leaves and turn off the heat.
5. Serve Butter Chicken with Basmati rice, Naan, Rotis etc

1. I used 4 large boneless Chicken Breasts for this recipe.
2. Kashmiri Red chilli is not as spicy as regular Red Chilli powder and gives a bright red color to the dish. However, if you do not have Kashmiri chilli, use regular Red chilli powder and a pinch of orange food coloring for that bright color for the gravy.
3. Adjust spice levels to your taste. 

This Sunday, May10th, is Mother's Day...So wishing all wonderful moms a splendid, healthy and Happy Mother's day! Show this recipe to your spouse or family and let them make this easy dish for you and pamper you to the core ;-)


May 5, 2020

Mexican Flan | Creamy and delicious | Low Fat recipe

I just came to know from my work colleague that today 5th of May is Cinco De Mayo. It's a historical military victory of the Battle of Puebla celebrated in some parts of Mexico and USA. So here's wishing all who are celebrating, a very Happy Cinco De Mayo. My office always celebrates all kinds of cultural festivals both regional and international and we would have been treated to some yumm Tacos and mexcian treats today had it not been closed to the quarantine. I do miss all that but here's some fun facts shared by one of my office colleagues about the festival.

And to celebrate I thought it's a perfect day to be sharing with a you a truly delicious Mexican dessert...Flan! And this coming Sunday is Mother's Day, so if not for Cinco De Mayo you can always prepare this delicious dessert for another fun celebration.

Mexican Flan is known by many names, Caramel Custard, Egg Pudding, Creme Caramel etc to name a few and it's basically a cooked vanilla egg custard/pudding with caramel sauce and best enjoyed chilled. It's always seen in most Mexican restaurant menu.

My Mom called it Caramel Custard and made it several times in our younger days. She used a deep bottomed steel bowl and made one large Flan with the delicious caramel running down it's sides. It was quite the magic act when she inverted the bowl and waited for the mild thud of the custard being released from the bowl into the plate below. We used to wait with keen anticipation and hope it would stay in shape and it always! I believe she used to steam her caramel custard instead of baking it, but it works just fine both ways. 

There are so many recipes for Flan, but I specifically wanted to try a low-fat version. Most recipes call for condensed milk or heavy cream etc and lots of sugar. It tastes divine no matter how it's made but I wanted something that we could indulge in but still not too high in calories. Eating Well had the perfect recipe and it took me less than 1 hour to put it together, bake the flan and refrigerate.  

Its best to either prepare the Flan at night and enjoy the next day, or make it in the morning and it'b be ready to indulge in by evening as it needs a few hours to set and get chilled before serving.

Mexican Flan (Low fat recipe)

Serves: 6
Prep time: 10 mins
Bake time: 35-40 mins
Serve: in about 4-12 hours (after chilling)

You’ll Need
For caramel sauce
⅓ cup sugar

For Flan
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk (1 ½ cups)
⅓ cup sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 small ramekins 
Rectangular baking tray
Hot water

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Caramelize the sugar:  In a saucepan, spread ⅓ cup sugar evenly and cook over medium-high heat until sugar starts to melt. Once sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low. Cook until all of the sugar is melted and golden brown, stirring as needed with wooden spoon.
3. Immediately divide caramelized sugar among six ramekins; tilt the ramekins to coat bottoms evenly. Allow to cool slightly. (the caramel hardens quickly so be as fast as possible taking care not to touch the piping hot caramel)
4. In a bowl, combine eggs, evaporated milk, 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla. (can use a magic bullet to mix everything together)
5. Place ramekins in a rectangular baking pan (I used my 9"x13" cake pan). Divide egg mixture equally amongst the ramekins. Place baking pan on oven rack and pour hot water into baking pan around ramekins to a depth of about ½ inch.
Baking the Flan in ramekins placed within baking tray filled halfway with hot water
6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center of each flan comes out clean. Remove ramekins from water. Cool on wire rack.
7. Cover  the top of ramekins and chill in refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours.
8. To unmold, loosen edges of the flan (from the sides and bottom) with a knife and invert a dessert plate over each flan; turn plate and custard cup over together. Remove ramekins from flans. Spoon out any caramelized sugar that remains over the flan.

Serve it just as it is or with some whipped cream or fruits.

Other delicious Mexican inspired treats on the blog include: