Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chicken Makhani

     The first Indian meal my wife ever had was Chicken Makhani. I took her out to an Indian restaurant. She was a little leery, thinking everything would be spicy and overwhelming. She tried the makhani and it began her love affair with Indian food. I've been cooking Indian around once a week now. One of The Wife's demands is that I replicate the restaurant's makhani. This recipe comes very close. We had to do some tinkering. The restaurant used yogurt, so we swapped it in here. We also kept it mild.  I was super pleased with the results here. The sauce was creamy and extremely flavorful. This is a good place to start if you have never had Indian food. There are quite a few notes and changes made in this recipe, so read carefully if the text is blue.

Chicken Makhani
via Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking

  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (I stopped making it myself and just started buying it by the jar. In the end, it costs almost the same and is way less of a hassle)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (as I watch my salt intake, I cut this back to 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (we like the heat, so we went with the 1/2 teaspoon. I wouldn't ramp it up much more than that because you'll start drowning out the other flavors)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (we used 2 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (we subbed 3/4 cup plain yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (we used bottled)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro
  • 1 fresh, hot green chile, finely chopped, with seeds (since we were trying to duplicate a restaurant recipe, we omitted the hot chile. The makhani we had was mild)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen peas (omitted)
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless chicken
  1. Combine sugar, ground cumin, garam masala, salt, cayenne and tomato paste. Slowly add 2 tablespoons water, mixing as you go. Add the cream (or yogurt, if that's what you're using) slowly and mix. Put in the lemon juice, cilantro and green chile (if using). Mix again and set the cream sauce aside
  2. Put the oil in a large frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the cumin and mustard seeds. IF YOU WANT TO SKIP THE PEAS AND USE CHICKEN, SKIP STEP #3 AND GO TO STEP #4. 
  3. After a few seconds, the mustard seeds will begin to pop. When this happens, put in the peas. Stir and fry the peas for 30 seconds
  4. Add the chicken and stir and fry until cooked through.
  5. Add the cream sauce. Cook on high heat for about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until the sauce has thickened (if you used yogurt instead of cream, it's going to be plenty thick already. Just cook it until everything is heated through). Stir gently as you cook. 
Good times!

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