Slow Cooked Thursday – Butter Chicken

A little while before Mr Good and I were married he was offered the opportunity to work in India for a couple of months.  He loved it and he loves Indian food as a result (actually he probably already liked Indian food), but unfortunately I’ve never really mastered the art of Indian cooking.  And now that we have the girls and their palates prefer very mild levels of spice there is rarely a curry coming out of my kitchen.  Tonight however I decided to test out the butter chicken recipe from the slow cooking recipe book I borrowed from the library.  Butter chicken is a super mild, creamy, rich and tomatoey Indian dish that the whole family can enjoy.  This one probably isn’t ideal for cooking while I’m out at work all day as it only takes four hours and I think the chicken would dry out if cooked for too much longer than that.  It also involved a bit of work to get it going so would be better suited to cooking either in the evening or on the days I’m not working (like today).  But as we all know curries are much better eaten the next day anyway, so it would be the perfect one to have ready cooked in the fridge just needing to be reheated when we want dinner.

12 chicken thighs, no skin
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon chilli powder (adjust to taste, 1 teaspoon makes it mild enough for the kids, add more if you want a bit more heat)
3/4 cup Greek style yogurt
5cm piece fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons garam masala
45g butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium brown onion, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
410g tinned tomato
2/3 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoon honey
1 cinnamon stick
1/3 cup pouring cream
1.3 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup loosely packed coriander leaves

Mix the lemon juice and chilli powder together and combine with the chicken pieces, cover and leave for half an hour.
Add the yogurt, ginger and half the garam masala and mix together until the chicken is well coated.
Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan and cook the chicken in batches until browned on all sides.  Place the cooked chicken in the slow cooker.  Then add the onion and garlic to the same frying pan, cooking until the onion is softened.  Add the rest of the garam marsala and other spices, stir over the heat until it becomes fragrant.  Take the pan off the heat and then stir in the tomato paste, tinned tomato, stock, honey and cinnamon.  Add this mixture to the slow cooker and give it all a good stir.  Turn the cooker to low and cook for 4 hours.
Stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve crumble over some fresh ricotta cheese and coriander leaves.  Serve with steam rice and flat bread.

Once again I found the sauce a little thin, so took the lid off and turned the slow cooker up to high for the last thirty minutes.  I think I need to start adjusting the amount of liquid I put in too.  In terms of taste, it was delicious and even with a slightly thin sauce the flavour was lovely and intense!  I ate far too much and am regretting it now.  Mr Good was well satisfied, but it still didn’t quite match up with authentic butter chicken (no surprises there I guess).  I’m pretty sure they cook the chicken in a tandoor first, I’m never going to be able to recreate that.

The flat breads I served it with were technically flour tortillas (from here) which I made the other day and froze.  I didn’t roll these ones out as thin as I would for wrapping and I think they worked really well with this curry.  I just warmed them up a little in the oven first.

And most importantly it got the thumbs up from BOTH girls, that must be the first dinner Miss Three has eaten all week.

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10 Responses to Slow Cooked Thursday – Butter Chicken

  1. Sounds delicious. Can I ask how many serves this made? And I am guessing that to freeze, it would before the adding cream & seasoning step?

    • Barbara Good says:

      Hi Natasha, yes it was very yummy. This fed the four of us (two adults and two toddlers), plus two more servings for lunch and enough chicken left after all of that for another meal. According to the recipe it serves 6, that sounds about right. And yes freeze before adding the cream and seasoning etc.

  2. PBR says:

    The best butter chicken I’ve had was when camped on the inside of an elephant-proof fence in Karnataka working on a project to build eco-sanitation toilets in the nearby village – called Anaikatty. I think. You never can be sure with remote Indian names. Anyway, chicken at the time was a bit of a luxury and of course buying chicken meant… buying a chicken. That clucked. And presumably laid eggs.
    One of the teenage boys got all testosterone charged (he was an Eton College student… *sigh*) and said he’d put said bird out of its misery. His attempt to break its neck failed dismally and the half-strangled bird survived – the poor young lad went white as a sheet. Having played up my country Victorian heritage since making camp with my fire building/wood chopping/tent pitching skills, the task of course fell to me to dispatch the bird. I used a machete… and then pretended this was something I did every day back in the ‘Sham. You know as well as I do just how big of a front that was. The curry was good, although I think I ended up with a bit of chicken liver in mine. Blerch.
    Anyway, the point is – I’ve been thinking of buying a slow cooker, which mum continues to call a “crock-pot” and I will probably stubbornly follow in her in this habit. I think this post has sold me – if you can feed a three-year-old, I can probably feed the Recalcitrant Swedish Boyfriend… and best of all, I don’t have to kill a chicken with a large, blunt knife.

    • Barbara Good says:

      Quite a story there PBR, but why doesn’t that surprise me and I can totally see you rocking a large blunt knife. I love that your mum calls it a crock pot, as long as she doesn’t have a mustard yellow, orange or lime green version. I’m pretty new to the whole slow cooker thing and this is definitely the best thing I’ve made so far, but I need a bit more practice yet. As for feeding the Recalcitrant Swedish Boyfriend, are they as difficult and frustrating as cantankerous and defiant three year olds? If so, I feel your pain, though I’m hoping he doesn’t throw rice all over the floor, climb on the table, kick your chair continuously throughout the meal because you won’t let him sit on your knew and finally shove the entire bowl to the other side of the table with a determined, “I’M NOT HUNGRY!” Can you tell I just love meal times?

  3. We love butter chicken at our house – I’ve never thought to try it in the slow cooker – great idea. I’m going to make it one day next week. Thanks!

    • Barbara Good says:

      I thought it was a great use of the slow cooker. I’m looking for different types of dishes to do it, I like variety in my diet so if I’m going to use it I need to be able to all sorts of different meals in it.

  4. Phoebe says:

    Ohh Barbara, looks fab! I’ll give this one a go tomorrow!!!

  5. Liz says:

    My kids always like a curry too. That recipe has a lot of tomato in it. Perhaps too much? Otherwise it sounds delicious. If you want to recreate the tandoor type flavour try marinating the chicken in ginger, garlic, lemon juice, yoghurt, chilli and garam masala and then barbecue it. If you do a large enough batch you’ll have enough for one meal of kebabs and another to make butter chicken with.

    • Barbara Good says:

      I was hoping you’d comment Liz, you know your Indian cooking much better than me. I’ll try with adjusting the tomato levels next time – actually I thought the tomato paste was a bit much at the time – having said that I didn’t find it too tomatoey, I actually liked that flavour of it. I think the last recipe I tried was marinaded in yogurt and something else (quite possibly a jar of tandoori paste) first, but I don’t think it was bbq’ed. This recipe was better than that one, but I can see how bbqing it first would give it a more sort of smoking taste. I really would need to be organised to do that as well (perhaps a good weekend dinner, good footy food anyway so a weekend would work). Thanks for the tips.

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