Everything doesn’t go your way, and you have to learn to accept that. For instance, I managed to cook a decent chicken preparation for the first time, and no one even tried it that day. 😛 But it’s alright, I was hopeful, because after tasting it a bit, Mom said, “খুব ভাল হয়েছে। দারুন!” (This tastes good and delicious.) They had it the next night for dinner, but the look on their faces told me that maybe I wasn’t completely hopeless at cooking after all.
It all started when Mom and li’l sister went to Kalyani to Grandma’s house on Tuesday, and I started thinking what to make with the 500 grams of chicken at home. I wanted them to taste a fine meal when they returned on Wednesday, and finally zeroed in on Butter Chicken Masala, as it was relatively easier than other special recipes, and I had done it once before, though unsuccessful in that try (The gravy was too much thin and oily, and the salt wasn’t enough). From a trustworthy online website, I began to look for the ingredients. That evening, I went out to buy the few missing ingredients in the cupboard, and the next morning, at 8, I started in the kitchen. It was only to marinate the chicken though. I was serving almost 5 mouths. So I’m going to read off the list keeping that in mind.
Taking the chicken in a bowl, I added about
- 5 tbsp. of yoghurt/দই along with
- 1 tbsp. ginger/আদা and garlic/রসুন paste,
- 0.5 tbsp. red chili powder/লাল লঙ্কা গুড়ো,
- 0.5 tbsp. garam masala,
- a pinch of turmeric/হলুদ and
- salt as needed.
Then I mixed it all up, the “masaladar” (spicy) chicken I intended on making, and kept it in the chill tray of the fridge. About 2-3 hours should do it for chicken. The spices penetrate the flesh and make it softer, hence more edible. For making it like those in restaurants, I suggest you keep it overnight.
At about 11.45, I went into the kitchen again and started making the tomato puree mix which was the basis of the Butter Masala gravy. Before making the puree, a little frying is required. I’m going to relay it in instructions now. On a frying pan,
- take 1 tbsp. of oil/butter/তেল/মাখন to which
- you add finely chopped onions/পেঁয়াজ, 3 medium sized, and fry on low heat until the onions turn light pinkish and the smell goes away.
- finely chopped and previously de-seeded tomatoes/টমেটো, 4 large or 5 medium sized, to this mix. Sprinkle a little salt and sauté until they become all soft and mushy, almost turning to a paste.
Now, don’t wait too long to add
- 0.5 tbsp. red chili powder,
- 0.5 tbsp. garam masala powder,
- 1 tbsp. coriander powder/ধনে গুড়ো,
- 1 tbsp. sugar/চিনি and
- 15-16 cashew nuts/কাজু বাদাম to the fried onion-tomato mixture. You can settle for a few less cashew nuts, like 10-12, if you’re planning to add cream at the end of the recipe.
Continue to sauté, always keeping the heat on the lower side, until the raw smell disappears.
Cool the mixture and take it in a blender.
Add 200 ml of water to it and blend until it looks like the latter.
The puree was done. It was time for the final stage, and then the phone rang. It was Mom. While she told me to make it carefully, without causing any major damage to the food, the kitchen and myself (specifically in that order 😛 ), I brought the marinated chicken out of the fridge and kept it ready. I took the same frying pan, added only 1.5 tbsp. of oil/butter and turned the gas on.
Back to the previous instructive mode now! Add
- one bay leaf/তেজপাতা,
- 3 green cardamom/এলাচ,
- 3 cloves/লবঙ্গ and
- one cinnamon stick/দারচিনি।
Fry them in the oil for some time, drop 1.5 tbsp. ginger garlic paste into the pan and continue frying until the raw smell goes away.
You’ll know it is the time to add the marinated chicken just as the whole thing on the pan is frizzling too much.
While turning the chicken one way to another on the pan, alternating from low heat to medium high, you’ll notice there will be a lot of water out of nowhere. Actually that water comes from the chicken which will expel moisture while cooking. And your aim now is to make the masala/spice mixture on the chicken dry, and the chicken itself paler. See the same in the next set of pictures. Don’t worry, keep on cooking, you’ll get there! 🙂
Add the puree next, and while cooking in the same way, keep adjusting the salt, sugar, red chili powder, garam masala and more importantly the water, for making the perfect gravy. Keep tasting it and improve. Butter Chicken Masala with ample gravy needs a lot of salt, otherwise it wouldn’t taste like it. The chicken finally will turn tender, so turn off the gas.
- a pinch of Kasuri Methi with
- 2 tbsp. of butter and stir.
- If you want to make it a restaurant styled dish, now would be the time to add cream.
The Chicken Butter Masala is ready to be served now. Mine didn’t have lots and lots of gravy with it in the end, but it was enough for all of us. It’s the quality of that gravy along with the juicy bites into the chicken that matters really 🙂 For garnishing, you can add coriander leaves on the top and finally feed your loved ones with roti, naan or fried rice. The whole thing took me a little more than an hour. But that’s because I am a novice. You can make it in probably half that time.
I put the lid on the pan, waited till that night when I heard that my sister couldn’t eat that chicken because of her stomach issues. I was afraid the whole thing wasn’t properly cooked, but Mom gave the thumbs-up, kept it in the fridge and we all ate it with roti the next day. They said it was the tastiest chicken they had had in a while! Nothing makes you happier if your family loves the thing you make.
This recipe has taken a close place in my heart! I’ll try it again, only to make it even better than before. This is a very easy one: if you know how to fry and light a gas, it’s right up your alley! Try and tell me how it was, and any story behind it. I would love to hear from you 🙂