Smoked butter chicken with my twist

Smoked butter chicken – This is not one of those quick fix dishes. It required patience and time so don’t attempt it if you are in a hurry. This is my version of the butter chicken which I cooked for every family party and then never cooked it for more than 25 years. I had to dig deep into my head and heart to put this together and it worked. The fact that the dish says butter chicken does not make it inauthentic because the recipe has no butter. The correct translation would read creamy chicken. 

Chicken – 1 kilo

For the marinade
Fresh sweet thick curd ( don’t compromise on this) – 250 gms
Chilly powder – 1 tea spoon
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tea spoon
Cumin powder- 1 tea spoon
Coriander powder – 2 tea spoon
Ginger & garlic paste – one large tea spoon
Red food colour – optional( but i suggest you add)

For special mix
Star anise ground (चक्र फूल) – one teaspoon
Sauf  or fennel – one teaspoon
Ajwain or carom seed- three pinches

For the gravy
Onions puréed – two
Tomatoes – four large or five medium
Ginger and garlic paste – one teaspoon

Grind together
Cumin whole – one teaspoon
Cloves – two
Cardamom – one
Coriander seeds – two tea spoons
Turmeric – 1/4 teaspoon
Kashmiri chillies – four
cinnamon – one inch stick

Grind separately
20 cashew nuts

You will also need
Fresh cream -100 ml
Kasoori methi
Piece of coal

Whisk the curd and make sure it is fresh and sweet or else you will end up with sour chicken. Add all the marinade ingredients with some salt and stir well. Food colour is optional but helpful if you want to see a restaurant style dish. To this add my special mix. This special mix is going to give the chicken a lingering aftertaste. The above can also be used  as a tandoori chicken marinade.Now add the chicken (I cook with bone) and marinate for two hours.When you cook chicken with bone the flavours in the bone enhances your chicken gravy. If you put this marinade mixture in the refrigerator to rest then ensure that you let it stand out for half an hour more till the marinated chicken returns to room temperature. When the marinated chicken touches hot oil it must be at room temperature.

In a pan heat oil to just below smoking temperature and add half the quantity of the chicken in the pan. If you add all the chicken it will sweat as most commercial gas ranges dont really have burners with high heat. What you want to do is seal the juices inside while browning it on the outside. When you add this semi fried chicken later to the gravy it will retain shape and not break as chicken does. Fry this chicken in batches and cook it 50 percent only. Retain all spare marinade and all pan juices as you will need it.

For the gravy – grind the dry masalas which have been indicated above and set aside. Blanch(tedious but helpful for final look of the dish) and purée the tomatoes, purée the onions and cashew nuts all separately.

In a pan heat some oil and add the puréed onions and cook the liquid out. Now add the ground masala and ginger and garlic paste and fry for two minutes on low flame. Add the tomatoes and let this cook for five minutes with some salt, the left over marinade (if any) and the pan juices. When this is done add the chicken which has been half fried and continue to cook for ten minutes. Lower the flame and add the cashew paste (which will thicken the gravy) cream and kasoori methi. Always add cream last and when the gravy is not boiling or else the cream will split. 

On the gas heat a piece of coal. When red drop this in a small container and lower the container in the chicken dish. Pour two tablespoons of oil over the hot coal and cover with a lid. Let it stand for ten minutes. Now open the lid and remove the container with the coal and oil and you can dispose this. This coal or oil is not to be reused or should not spill in the gravy.

 Your smoked butter chicken is done.

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