I went out to lunch the other day with a couple of friends and we went to a Thai restaurant, within walking distance of my suburban home. I suspect all you city folk find this inconceivable! But I can easily walk to Thai, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, Spanish, Mexican, and more… When I was growing up, I lived in Sonoma (CA) and Mexican was about as exotic as we got–although my parents were big fans of Juanitas, out in Boys’ Springs. But now, in the SF Bay Area, you can’t keep track of the various “ethnic” restaurants.
The first time I ate Chinese food that my mother hadn’t tried to fix after taking a cooking class was when I worked for a Chinese/Bostonian architect just out of high school. He would take me to dinner if we had to work late–but only after calling my mother to ask permission! Indian… I can’t remember the first time. But I loved it. I worked for a few years with a group of Indians and it was fun to go out to lunch and have some of them order food (Indian or Chinese or whatever) extra spicy and others extra mild.
I found the basics for this in a Cooking Light magazine. I made it for a “date night” a couple of years ago and it was a big hit but I was nervous about fixing it for the kids somehow. But tonight, because of the Thai lunch somehow, I really wanted something with some different flavors. I didn’t want to go shopping just for one meal and I had one girl to feed. I made this with some plain steamed rice and it was a big hit–although she insisted on putting soy sauce on her rice. Ugh.
Indian Butter Chicken
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 6- oz can tomato paste
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4″ chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup butter
- fresh cilantro
- lime wedges
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil over high heat and cook the onion and ginger, stirring often until the onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes . Stir in the garam masala, then put it all in a blender, add the tomato paste and chicken broth, and whir until smooth.
- Put the sauce back into the pan, add the half and half, and simmer, stirring often, about 5-10 minutes until reduced to about 3 cups. Pour sauce into a bowl and set aside. Rinse the pan and reuse for the chicken.
- Heat 1 Tbs of the butter over medium-high heat, sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken pieces, then add the chicken to the pan, cooking a few minutes until the outside is no longer pink, 2-3 minutes. Pour the sauce back in and bring to a simmer. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside. (Take a piece out and cut in half to make sure.)
- Cut the remaining 3 Tbs of butter into chunks and stir in until melted. Serve over steamed rice. If you like, sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp crumbled bay leaves
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves