Boneless chicken pieces cooked in the Tandoor and then simmered in a mild spiced tomato, butter, cream sauce.  Fire up your Tandoor about 30-40 minutes in advance of being ready to cook the chicken.

Main ingredients (enough for 4-6):

1.5 kg skinless chicken thigh fillets

4 teaspoons ground coriander

5 teaspoons sweet paprika

4-6 cloves fresh garlic - crushed

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 large knobs of butter or ghee

1 piece casia* (or cinnamon) bark 6cm long

1-3 teaspoon salt (to taste)

1-2 tablespoons brown sugar (to taste)

425g can condensed tomato soup

1 cup cream

4 teaspoons garam masala

2 teaspoons chilli powder (less if sensitive to chilli)

3 teaspoons fresh ginger - grated

4 tablespoons white vinegar

500ml natural yoghurt greek style

1 large onion finely grated or pureed

6 green cardamon pods

2 whole star anise

3/4 cup chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon tandoori colouring**   

2 teaspoons kasoori methi***                                                     

fresh coriander leaves to serve

1/4 cup almond flakes to serve

Extra ingredients:

1-2 medium potatoes to act as heat shields during cooking the chicken

*Casia bark can be obtained from most good Asian grocery stores.  If you can’t obtain it, use cinnamon bark instead.

** The tandoori colouring agent gives this dish its vibrant orange/red colour.  Again, it can be obtained from most good Asian grocery stores.  If you can not obtain tandoori colouring agent, you can substitute it with beetroot powder (this provides more of a red colour). The colouring agent adds little if no taste and leaving it out will not change the excellent flavour of the dish, but it will not look like the dish you see in restaurants.

*** Kasoori methi = dried fenugreek leaves and can be obtained from most good Asian grocery stores.  The Mengal brand is quite common in Australia.  You can leave it out if it can not be sourced, but it does add a key characteristic flavour to butter chicken.

Combine garam masala, ground coriander, chilli powder, sweet paprika, grated ginger, crushed garlic, kasoori methi, white vinegar, tandoori colouring and tomato paste in a bowl and mix thoroughly.  Reserve about 2/3 of this mixture for later, cover and put in the refrigerator.  Cut the chicken thigh fillets in half across their width (i.e. shortest length).  Use the remaining 1/3 of the spice mixture to rub all over the cut chicken pieces.  Marinade the coated chicken in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or over night if you can - this will add more depth of flavour.

Slide chicken pieces up the skewers leaving a gap at the top and bottom (see “using Tandoor skewers” page).  Try leave a small gap between each piece of chicken.  Cut the potato into pieces and slide a piece on each skewer to just under the chicken to act as a heat shield when cooking in the Tandoor (see picture above).  Then place the skewers in the Tandoor and close the lid to be adjacent the skewers  Cooking time of the chicken will vary depending on the temperature of the Tandoor.  As a guide, it will take about 15-20 minutes to cook in the Tandoor at about 240oC.  If the Tandoor is too hot, simply remove the lid for a while. Cook the chicken long enough to get a few crunchy chared edges.

Remove the cooked chicken from the Tandoor and set aside.  If you want to cook naan bread to accompany the butter chicken, keep the Tandoor up to temperature so that it is ready to use just before your serve.  In the meantime, in a heavy based pot heat 2 large knobs of butter and fry the finely grated or pureed onion for about 2-4 minutes.  Then add the casia bark, cardamon pods, star anise and continue to fry for 1-2 minutes extra or until the onion starts to slightly brown.  Then add the reserved 2/3 of the spice mixture, soup, yoghurt and stock and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the cooked chunky chicken pieces and then the cream.  Once the cream has been added do not rapidly boil, just simmer the mixture.  Add the salt and sugar to taste.  Simmer for 10-20 minutes and serve (its even tastier the next day - just refrigerate and reheat).  Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and almond flakes. 

Accompany with freshly cooked garlic naan and rice. You can easily cook 6-7 naans in a few minutes just before you sit down to eat!

Chicken pieces for butter chicken cooking in Tandoor

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butter chicken

Authentic butter chicken recipe