Tag: cream

Garam Masala Tuesdays: Butter Chicken

I actually look forward to calling people home. Not only does it feel nice to have a a house full of friends and laughter, but it forces me to to clean my house- and no, I am not talking about the “it-would-do” kind of cleaning but the “your-mom-will-give-a-pat-on-your-back” kind of cleaning.

Now, when you call people home or host a party of any sorts, you do expect certain hiccups. You expect it would be too hot to cook. You also expect that you would be out the previous day of the party and get a heat stroke and get a mild migraine because of that. You also expect that the party would fall on that day of the month when women get their stomach cramps and the likes. So you are cooking with a slight migraine, stomach cramps in a hot kitchen. Well, you expect all that and don’t think any of it would cause a big problem. And then you hear a shatter- more specifically you hear glass shattering and that too on your kitchen floor. Ohh..kay… – its a setback but one can get past it- its just a bottle, you can clean that. But then your realize- the bottle had oil. Not only is there glass on the floor but there is oil on the kitchen floor ( and of course you needed that oil for your party!) Now who could anticipate that! You wouldn’t, right! But, I do, thanks to my track record. I have butter fingers and I am very serious when I say that. Ask my friends. Things just slip from my hands and the more I am careful the more likely they are to slip! In fact the degree of the damage I do always depends on the cruciality of the whole situation.

But then when you have a husband like V whats there to worry. He knew I was upset plus he knew I was in all probability to slip on the oil or prick my finger on broken glass (the latter happened and the former almost did), so he opted to mop the floor when my cleaning with the newspaper trick did not work.

Well, thanks to my husband’s helping hands, I was able to get the house clean and ready for the party at home. We had our eclectic International friends for dinner and I made Indian. The menu consisted of butter chicken, dal makhani, mixed vegetable, raita and roti. For dessert, we had mango kulfi and these awesome gluten-free cupcakes that our friend had got for us. I have already posted the recipe for Dal Makhani previously on Garam Masala Tuesdays (GMT). Check it out here. I will be posting the recipe for Mango Kulfi next week. For today’s GMT, I will be talking about Butter chicken.

Originating from the period of the Mughal Empire, Murgh Makhani aka Butter chicken has survived through the ages and continues to grow in popularity due to it’s rich and flavorful gravy. It is said that the modern version of the Butter Chicken recipe was invented by a person working in the kitchen of the original Moti Mahal restaurant in Daryaganj, Delhi, during the 1960s to use up leftover Tandoori Chicken.

Butter chicken is a definite order at restaurants in India and has become quite famous abroad as well, though in a slightly modified version named Chicken Tikka Masala.

Well back in India, restaurants do not serve CTM, at least I have never seen it. I have never read it on any menu card in India, even though chicken tikka is always there under appetizers but no chicken tikka masala. Butter chicken, on the other hand, is a must in every North Indian restaurant.

CTM, primarily is a UK born dish.

Chicken Tikka Masala was apparently invented in Great Britain about the same time as the modern version of butter chicken. There is a popular story that some restaurant owner poured Campbell’s condensed tomato soup on top of Chicken Tikka because a customer demanded gravy. The topic, though, is controversial as some claim it to be originating from street food in India.

CTM became popular when it was declared as British National Dish by Robin Cook (nope, he is not the famous author of Coma, Brain and the likes, but was UK’s foreign secretary). Robin Cook’s Tikka Masala speech states CTM as “a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adapts external influences.

For long I thought chicken tikka masala is what foreigners called butter chicken. But, after googling I found there are slight differences, though the concept is pretty much similar- grilled chicken in a tomato based curry. The slight differences arise in the preparation of the gravy, the kind of chicken used and the spices added.

Whereas, Butter chicken uses fresh tomatoes, CTM generally uses canned tomato puree. The gravy for butter chicken also is pretty heavy on the butter and cream, while CTM doesnt use butter at all (though I have seen recipes of CTM that do! confused? so am I!) and instead has onions. Another supposed difference lies in the kind of chicken used- one uses tandoori chicken and the other uses chicken tikka (nope, no points for guessing which uses which). Also, CTM always uses boneless chicken (since that’s what the recipe for chicken tikka calls for), whereas butter chicken is best prepared with chicken with bones, though one could use boneless pieces too. Someone also observed the use of thigh pieces or whole chicken in butter chicken, whereas CTM uses breasts pieces. Dried fenugreek leaves play a heavy role in the chicken marination for butter chicken, while they do not feature in the other, instead CTM uses cilantro/coriander in the marination.

I can not confirm the authenticity for these difference, since it is based on my observation of different recipes online and personally I feel that since both are modern recipes, originating in restaurants, the difference is primarily one of nomenclature- a difference that arose because people wanted to get attributed to the origin of the dish. For me, though, the authentic Indian dish will always be butter chicken and that is what we are making for GMT today.

Butter chicken is made by marinating chicken overnight in a yogurt, garlic, ginger paste, pepper, dried fenugreek leaves, cumin and red chilli powder mixture. The chicken is traditionally cooked in a tandoor (how I wish I had one at home), but can also be grilled, or broiled in the oven.

Makhani, the sauce, true to its name is cooked in butter (calories! but so worth it!) and pureed fresh tomatoes with various spices. Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) which is also added to the dish, lends most to the characteristic flavor of the dish. Cashew paste can also be added, and will make the gravy thicker and richer (translate: yummier).

The recipe that I use is a mix of my mother’s and Nandu’s, our cook in India. My mom gives the recipe a nice smoky twist by cooking the gravy in charcoal smoke. It adds a lot of flavor to the gravy and is pretty easy to do!

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Garam Masala Tuesdays: Dal Makhani

A week back, on this day- Tuesday, I started a new thing on the blogGaram Masala Tuesdays or as someone I know put it GMT (I tell you, these things are not intentional- they just happen 🙂 !). This Tuesday its my second post for Garam Masala Tuesday and even though I have been in no mood of cooking- it has been a 2 1/2 months long break from cooking– but I had to post something today. How can I start something a week back and not live up to the promise!

Since I had to post, and there were no two ways about it, I thought I would make something that would not require too much effort. And, something that I knew V had eaten rarely in the last 2 1/2 months. And something I love quite dearly. So it had to be Dal Makhani.

Dal Makhani is the quintessential Punjabi dish (Punjab is a state in the northern part of India). Dal means lentils and makhani means buttery; so, literally translated dal makhani reads “buttery lentils”. Dal Makhani, butter naan and butter chicken are staple to Punjabi food- the above three and rajma chawal are always top of every Punjabi’s favorite food list.

Dal makhani is a rich, creamy lentil dish that is traditionally cooked on a low simmer for hours in a pureed tomato and butter gravy. Traditionally, the dal was cooked by leaving overnight on burning charcoal. It is also called Maa ki Dal. Though Maa means mother in Hindi,  Maa is also the name given to whole unskinned black lentils and hence the name for the dish.

If you notice, the common thing to most Punjabi dishes is, yes, you guessed it- butter. Ah, butter- utterly butterly delicious butter! Being a north Indian and a hard core Punjabi, now you know the reason behind my affinity to butter and the reason for my tendency to put on weight. Well, tradition is a tough thing to break from and when tradition comes in the form of butter, you know the battle is lost!

There are lot of different versions of this dish but I like this one as its easy and the results are always great. Plus, there is no chopping involved in the recipe I use (that is exactly why I chose to make it today). And requires very little time in the kitchen. It does take 2 hours for the whole preparation but you are not required to be in the kitchen the whole time.  This dish is great even the next day- so feel free to make a day before you plan to serve it. The dish is great both with rice and with Indian flatbreads like chappati/roti or naan.

Note: Some time back I had posted another lentil recipe. It is one of V’s recipe and IT IS GOOOOOD! Do check it out!

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Bailey’s & Dulce de leche Mocha Cookie & Cream Ice Cream

If you are like me, then the mention of cookies, alcohol, and ice cream in the same breath would make your eyes brighten up and your mouth drool! That is if the long name doesn’t scare you away!

The idea behind this crazy sounding name came the other day while I was thinking of  how to incorporate the cookies left from the time I made the Mocha Chocolate chip cookies.

Now, during the visit to my grandparents’ place, somebody had invited us for dinner and I had the most amazingly creamy strawberry ice cream- which was homemade and completely eggless. The aunty told it was a fairly simple eggless recipe with equal proportions of milk, cream and milk powder and she adds strawberry crusher which lends the sweetness and flavour to the ice cream. But, I wanted to add the cookies, so I thought I would replace the strawberry crusher with crumbled cookies.

The Bailey’s was something I remember from one of David Lebovitz “no ice cream machine” ice cream. Just before leaving US for my India vacation I got my copy of Room for Dessert and I remember seeing David’s chocolate and banana ice cream that requires no ice cream maker.

Now the thing is I think I am allergic to banana. I think  so because everytime I eat a banana I get this horrible-horrible pain in my stomach. This allergy was never there before. I experienced it for the first time when I was at some one’s place and had taken my banana bread for them. I ate it at night. The next day I had severe pain. Since we had eaten out I thought it was a result of that. But it remained for quite a few days, because I was still eating bananas. Anyway, our home stock of bananas finished and so did the pain. Still it did not strike me. After few days again the same thing and the same happened when my in-laws were there. The only food that was common all these times was banana. So well, I guess I am allergic to it, which kind of sucks because I love banana bread!

So with these two recipes and a little help to get it all together from  here I set out to make my jacked up mocha cookies, dulce de leche ice cream!

Dulce de leche (pronounced DOOL-say day LAY-chay) is Spanish for “milk candy”. It tastes quite like caramel but with the additional taste of cooked milk. (Technically, dulce de leche is a type of caramel.) It’s often used in liquid form as a sauce for ice cream, cakes, cookies, just about anything that needs a sweet topping. In solid form, it is most often eaten as a tasty candy.

The ice cream turned out more like mocha cake batter ice cream.-probably because of the soggy cookies that I had used. Anyway, that wasn’t a problem. Only problem that I had was that it was melting too soon. Homemade ice creams are generally more soft than store bought- they have the soft serve consistency. But this one was melting way too fast. It is really hot here but still not so much that a ice cream can’t behave itself for a few minutes. I guess it could be the alcohol level that did not allow the ice cream to freeze too much. The person, whose original recipe I used, does not add alcohol and has a very creamy ice cream thanks to the milk powder in the recipe. And since I added alcohol, as well as the milk powder, it might have changed the science behind freezing the ice cream. I, actually like my ice cream melted. So I wasn’t complaining, but my mom likes her ice cream “ice cream consistency” (which she couldn’t get because the tub had been out for quite a while as I was busy clicking some photographs). She loved the taste though.

The melted ice cream did make a darn good adult cookie and cream shake! But next time I would skip the cognac and see how that works.

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