Yes, I know, Butter Chicken is one of those populist recipes that are everywhere. I’ve seen it as a pizza topping at one of the big chains (no, just no. A mom & pop Indian family doing it along with their own butter chicken, on the other hand, do it!).
I wanted to try my hand at this ubiquitous Indian dish because, firstly, it’s my lady’s favourite Indian dish and secondly, it’s very similar in design to a classic Hungarian dish, chicken paprikash (at least the sauce component…and I’ll be posting a recipe for Paprikash soon, honest!)
Anyways, the final reason to do a butter sauce is to use up the last of the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. Having said that, this won’t be a 100% authentic take on Butter Chicken since there’s usually a tandoori preparation of the chicken beforehand. With a quick simmer of leftover, shredded turkey, it takes a little of the time and effort away from the original, so I’ve modified my sauce accordingly to accommodate that flavour variation by adding sour cream in the sauce. The tandoori marinade for the chicken usually has yogurt and I wanted that sour component. I find when I simmer yogurt in a sauce, it splits, but sour cream blends beautifully in a creamy sauce.
Enough rambling. To the sauce. And dinner!!
For the Spice Mix:
1 Tbsp coriander seed
1 Tbsp cumin seed
8 green cardamom pods (or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom)
1-1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2-1 tsp hot Hungarian paprika (or your favourite red chilli powder), depending on how hot you like
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
In a spice grinder, grind the coriander, cumin, cardamom pods, mustard and fennel seeds until a fine powder is achieved. Add the sweet and hot paprika, turmeric and salt and quickly blend to combine. Set aside.
For the Butter Sauce:
Reserved Spice Mix
3 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil
1-1/2 tsp finely grated garlic
1 Tbsp finely grated ginger
1 small can (156 mL/6 oz) tomato paste (or Roasted Tomato Sauce)
1 cup cream
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup water
In a large, wide skillet pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the grated garlic and ginger and fry for 2-3 minutes until it starts to brown, scraping the bottom of the pan as it tends to stick somewhat. Add 2/3 of the spice mix and fry for another 2-3 minutes until the spices are very fragrant and starting to smoulder but not burn. Add the tomato paste (or Roasted Tomato Sauce, if using) and stir to toast the tomato paste (about 1-2 minutes). Add the water, cream and sour cream. Stir to combine all of the flavours, again scraping the bottom, and whisk in the remaining spice mix. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes, if using tomato paste or 60-70 minutes if using the Roasted Tomato Sauce (the sauce has more liquid so requires more simmering to thicken the sauce).
Add 4 cups of shredded, leftover cooked turkey (or chicken) to the finished Butter Sauce and simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the turkey is heated through and softened. Serve with rice. Serves 4-6.