Food on Friday: An Indian feast


By Julia Westhoff

It’s been India week at Olivia’s school. She’s been coming home every day with these precious little bindis on her forehead and henna (a.k.a. pen ink) on her hands. We’ve been talking about Gandhi and Mother Teresa and red wedding dresses. But mostly we’ve been eating Indian food. Lots and lots of Indian food. Truth be told, I’ve made this recipe five times in last three weeks, even before I knew it was coming up on the school curriculum.

Because, dudes, Indian food is just the greatest. I never stuff myself more than when I’m sitting in front of a pile of naan, chicken curry and lentils. Of course my favorite Indian food involves butter, yogurt and a mix of sweet, spicy and salty. And this recipe might just be my favorite of all. I make triple the recipe and freeze it to reheat later with some rice and store-bought naan (easily available at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods). Paired with a mango lassi (mango, yogurt and sugar blended and served over ice) and you’ve got yourself an Indian feast, my friends.

Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)
Adapted from All Recipes

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Juice from one lime
3 tablespoons ginger garlic paste (I just chop and mash it together)
1 teaspoon garam masala (I found mine at Better Cheddar)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken
thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Saute shallot and onion until soft and translucent. Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in half-and-half and yogurt. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat, and season with 1 teaspoon garam masala and cayenne. Stir in a few spoonfuls of sauce, and simmer until liquid has reduced, and chicken is no longer pink. Stir cooked chicken into sauce.

3. Mix together cornstarch and water, then stir into the sauce. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.