Recipe Review: Butter Chicken from Chef Varun Inamdar

What’s this? I’m finally getting around to posting recipe reviews again? What is this world coming to?

Yes, it’s true – now that my husband has moved in and we’re cooking for two people finally (which is WAY easier than cooking for one person!), we’ve been trying a lot of new recipes lately. I got a couple of cook books for Christmas, and he’s found a few recipes he wants to try, so we’re trying almost a new recipe a week. I don’t think I have a backlog of recipes yet, but I’m absolutely going to be adding what I can, when I can.

This week’s recipe is Butter Chicken from The Bombay Chef, better known as Varun Inamdar.

Here’s what we learned:

The Spices: We tried to go to a local Asian supermarket (which I knew had an Indian aisle), but we couldn’t find any Indian spices! We learned later that there are at least two Indian supermarkets in our city, but we’d already ordered the spices on Amazon (paying a premium, according to our friend who’d told us about the Indian markets). Kashmiri Chili Powder | Red Chili Powder | Garam Masala | Kasoori Methi (beware that Kasoori Methi, even though it says 3 oz, comes in a gigantic jar because it’s a leaf lol)

We made our own ginger-garlic paste by crushing half a tablespoon of minced garlic in a pestle and mixing with some squeeze ginger that I found at the grocery store.

The Spice Level: We used the recipe’s recommended red chili powder amount for the amount of chicken we used (1 pound instead of 300 grams), and I regretted it. It was insanely spicy. The second time, we used half of the recommended amount. Both times we used half of the recommended amount of kashmiri chili powder for the sauce (or “gravy,” as its called in the recipe), and while it was still spicy, it was more tolerable than the chicken. If you’re a wimp with spices, I would say cut the amount of both chili powders you use down to one quarter of what it calls for in the recipe.

What we changed: We used 1 pound of chicken instead of 300 grams; we cut the amount of spice in half; we used heavy whipping cream instead of regular cream (since we couldn’t find any in our stores that looked like what he used); and we used a real blender instead of a hand blender.

What we learned from reading YouTube comments: The first time we made the dish we used the recommended 4 tablespoons of sugar, not thinking that it would be wrong since it’s what written on both the website and the YouTube description. The comments are all saying it should be four teaspoons instead, but we liked the way it tasted with the four tablespoons. We adjusted it down to 3 tablespoons the second time, and I think we’ll continue doing that. It’s not too sweet for us. We also learned that the amount of water you put into your pan should just cover the top of the tomatoes (because neither the recipe nor the YouTube video says how much to put in). This makes the sauce nice and creamy.

We served our butter chicken over rice, with some warm pita bread (since we couldn’t find naan in our local grocery store), and it was delicious. We’ve now made it twice in a week, and it makes enough for four full servings!

Final thoughts: It takes about an hour from start to finish (between marinating the chicken, waiting for stuff to simmer, blending, straining, etc.), which is just enough time for our rice cooker to do its job. It’s fast enough for a weeknight meal, and I’m sure if you wanted to you could marinate some chicken ahead of time so you cut that part out. The first time we did this, it took us almost two hours because we didn’t realize we’d have to marinate, then we didn’t have a big strainer (we used two tiny cocktail strainers!!), then we didn’t make rice (we just said “oh well” and used extra pita bread). This is a recipe that has shot to the top of our favorites list, and there’s no way I’d give it less than 5/5 stars. The spice level is easily adjustable, and if you serve this over rice it soaks up all of that delicious sauce and you lose nothing. I am incredibly pleased with this recipe, and I am so glad one of our friends recommended it to us!

Image from Chef Varun Inamdar

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