Recently “butter chicken” was the theme for a cooking competition about Indian cuisine on the Netflix series called “Last table”. We are not familiar with this dish and have never tasted it. So a few days later when my wife saw a recipe for butter chicken in the Washington Post she decided to try it. But the recipe called for an herb call “fenugreek”. The article even said that it was the fenugreek that gave the dish its distinctive flavor i.e. it wouldn’t be butter chicken if it did not include this herb. Naturally we did not have fenugreek. So I promptly ordered some through Amazon. When this herb arrived, my wife made this “butter chicken”. We had this dish with a baguette to mop up the sauce.
The green is the fenugreek leaves. It did have a particularly distinctive smell but in the sauce, its flavor appears very subtle.
This is based on the recipe from Washington Post but has been modified.
FOR THE CHICKEN
4 chicken thighs (trimmed of excess fat), cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more to taste).
3/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons garam masala (spice blend)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup plain, full-fat yogurt
2 cloves garlic minced
One 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, minced (1 tablespoon)
FOR THE SAUCE
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
15 ounces canned plain tomato sauce
1/4 cup dried fenugreek leaves, soaked in a bowl of water for 15 minutes and skimmed off the top.
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper.
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream (we used much less)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1. For the chicken: Combine the chicken pieces with the lime juice, cayenne pepper, paprika, garam masala, salt, yogurt, garlic and ginger in a mixing bowl until evenly coated. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, and up to overnight.
2. Take the chicken pieces out of the marinade and put into a frying pan with some peanut oil (there will still be marinade on the pieces). Cook stirring occasionally until the pieces are tender. Remove the chicken from the liquid that forms in the pan and discard the liquid.
3. In a clean frying pan melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. As soon as it melts (without browning), pour in the tomato sauce. Stir in the fenugreek leaves, cayenne pepper, sugar and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high; cook just long enough so the sauce begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Put the chicken pieces into the sauce, along with any accumulated juices. Stir in the cream and cumin, then cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, so the chicken absorbs some of the rich flavors in the sauce.
5. Uncover the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of butter; once it has melted, stir it into the sauce. Serve right away.