Butter Chicken

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with everything I want to say in this post, which is kind of appropriate for this particular recipe. See, while this may be a post on Butter Chicken, as the subject states, this recipe was part of a mangled-by-Teddy New York Times article titled “Ambition’s Chicken,” which Matt and I misread initially because, up until a few moments ago, we had been referring to it as Ambitious Chicken.

But you gotta start somewhere. So, let me begin by thanking you all so much for your amazing response to my book-cover announcement. Your preorders caused the book to “trend” on Barnes and Nobles for a bit there. So, thank you, thank you, thank you! I appreciate it so much.

A friend of mine recently told me about the book 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl, which sounds great. Just the title alone seems to capture so much of today’s zeitgeist with our daily onslaught of information, emails, and things to do (and feel?).
Anyway, since Teddy was born, I too have been steadily compiling a list of essays I don’t have time to write. Here’s a small sampling from the growing Word document:

1. Why Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Makes Me Uncomfortable

2. I Know All Parents Think Their Baby is Special But I Think Mine Actually Might Be

3. On Living in My Hero Zone 
(A while ago, I bought the audio version of the book, The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level, in which the author discusses how most of us aren’t living in our zone of genius and begins to explain how to achieve that kind of living. I found it all very interesting—if not a little hilarious—and when I went to talk about all of my thoughts with Matt, he began accidentally referring to the genius zone as the hero zone. Point being, I have a lot to say about this book!)

4. Maybe Nobody Knows, Maybe Nobody Cares, But It Really Feels Like Paul Ryan Took a Bribe in Front of the Whole World*

*OK, fine. Maybe I have a bit of time right now to get into this one: In case you missed it, on CNBC, Paul Ryan publicly criticized Amazon’s treatment of Hachette authors (If you’re out of the loop: You can’t pre-order the majority of Hachette books on Amazon, and once the books come out, they aren’t given the normal Amazon discount nor are they available to ship in a timely manner. In effect, you are discouraged from buying Hachette books from the site that is believed to control over 50% of the book market--physical and electronic books.) The following day, Amazon made a major exception for Ryan, essentially flipping a switch so that suddenly his Hachette-published book was easily discoverable, discounted by 25 percent, and available to ship immediately.

We haven’t heard anything from Mr. Ryan since. Sooooooo, so much for fighting the good fight! But here’s my thinking: if he wasn’t getting special treatment from the online megastore because of his status as a congressman (which would be a violation of House ethics rules), then surely, all a Hachette author needs to do is publicly declare their displeasure with Amazon’s treatment of their book and then, the next day, the book will become available for pre-order and all that jazz—amiright?

OK, well, in that case, I would like to make this blog post my official declaration of displeasure with Amazon’s treatment of my book and, while I'm at it, the books of all other Hachette authors. (It’s probably safe to say that Amazon missed my previous blog post about all this.)

Ahhh, great. Now we can put this lousy topic behind us and finally talk butter chicken.
This is one of those recipes that you want to bookmark for your next dinner party. Sure, the ingredient list is long and it’s going to take some time to make, but it is also one of those dishes that can simmer away, unattended on the stovetop, just becoming better and better, and it is also one of those recipes that is undeniably delicious. Even if you know someone who says they don’t like Indian food, I bet they would like this meal. If you have a rice cooker, serve it with some basmati rice. If not, maybe get that naan bread they sell in the freezer section at Trader Joe’s? Oh, this is fun—now I’m imagining a dinner party! (I can’t remember the last time we hosted a dinner party!) But even if you’re not the entertaining type, you probably want to make this recipe. We ate the leftovers the following night and were even more impressed.
Butter Chicken via The New York Times
1 ½ cups full-fat plain yogurt
about 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons garam masala
2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 pounds chicken thighs, on the bone (As you probably already noted from the photos, I used whole chicken legs with the skin on, but next time I'll probably use skinless thighs like the recipe calls for. It would just be easier to eat and portion out.)
¼ pound unsalted butter
4 teaspoons neutral oil, like vegetable or canola oil
2 medium-size yellow onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely diced
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 medium-size tomatoes, diced
2 red chiles, like Anaheim, or 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
Kosher salt to taste
⅔ cup chicken stock, low-sodium or homemade
1 ½ cups cream
1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons ground almonds, or finely chopped almonds
½ bunch cilantro leaves, stems removed.

Whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala and cumin in a large bowl. Put the chicken in, and coat with the marinade. Cover, and refrigerate (for up to a day).

In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter in the oil until it starts to foam. Add the onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds, and cook until the onions start to brown.

Add the cinnamon stick, tomatoes, chiles and salt, and cook until the chiles are soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken and marinade to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes.

Stir in the cream and tomato paste, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the almonds, cook for an additional 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Garnish with the cilantro leaves.
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Matthew said...

Why did you delete my first comment? Was it because I said Hero Cheshin yum yum yum? xoxoxoxooox

Rebecca Altman said...

You're right that is a long ingredient list. Until reading it I was all gung ho for the butter chicken because I seriously.love.butter.chicken. But now its gone in the 'to make on a night when I feel like something fancy' recipe list. That said, I love the Teddy photos. I think you should have a dinner party. I think we should go back to gymnastics. I think those essays deserve to be written, especially #1. And I think Amazon should extend the Paul Ryan deal to you too. Because let's face it, you're way more interesting than he is*.

*did you know that if you do an image search for Paul Ryan, 'paul ryan abs' comes up as a choice. I guess he has abs and people are into odd looking politician abs? I still think you're more interesting.

tannaz sassooni said...

Deeply interested in Why Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee makes you uncomfortable. Please make time to write that one!

Elle said...

I had the best butter chicken of my life in a Tokyo restaurant at the top of some skyscraper. I lived there for a year and that restaurant became our default go-to for special occasions. It was very surreal to get genuine tandoori baked naan, (essential for scooping up that sauce), 30 floors up off the ground...fyi, I ate plenty of amazing Japanese food too, but that chicken/sauce/naan was Special.

Would also love to read each of those proposed essays...

sshaver said...

The Big Leap sounds unspeakably dreary, but other than that, a post that combines food and books?

Nothing better.

Andrea said...

I love butter chicken! Yum.

Who is the dog tussling with Mavis?

Carilyn said...

I was so surprised when I saw that Paul Ryan story, too! So weird! This whole Amazon/Hachette feud is so unfortunate, and it has been amazing to me to read about authors claiming that Amazon isn't doing anything "unseemly".

The chicken looks really yummy! Can't wait to try it!

Mary Anne said...

Neal and Jodi's dog Penny? (Do I get an award for being such a good reader and knowing that??)

Mary Anne said...

OK so is there any backlash on Paul Ryan because of that? Is anyone else calling this out as a House ethics violation?

And more importantly, I LOVE butter chicken and would love to make this, but only if it tastes as good as what I could get in a restaurant. Whaddya think? Indian restaurant level??

Amelia Morris said...

Yes, Mare! Yes, you do get an award. (Please report to Echo Park to claim your prize.)

Amelia Morris said...

The Paul Ryan story seems to have been dropped from the news cycle.

As for the chicken, YES, I think it is Indian-restaurant level!

Amelia Morris said...

Rebecca! When Matt and I ate this, we actually both thought of that delicious curry you made us all those years ago... so maybe you don't have to make it after all?

Let's open a gymnastics gym somewhere equidistant from both our houses. What do you think? Maybe Paul Ryan (and his abs) will show up for a class?

Jodi Hildebrand said...

Your award is cuddles with Penny and Mavis! (and Teddy?)

Sarah Fennel said...

Well this looks insanely delicious. Also I want to know why Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee makes you uncomfortable. I have always felt weird about it, but haven't been able to put my finger on it. However, the Louis CK episode where they animate his trip up the Hudson with his daughters is one of the best laughs I've ever had.

Rebecca Altman said...

That would be awesome. Then you could get Amazon publishing tips from him, or maybe get him to promote your book?

Mary Anne said...

The episode with Tina Fey was soooo awkward! I was cringing the whole time.

Lynn @ TheActorsDiet.com said...

I want to know more about Comedians/Cars/Coffee! Maybe I can get you to be on my podcast and you can talk it out with me.

Amelia Morris said...

Totally, sounds like fun! Can I bring Teddy? :)

Amelia Morris said...

@Sarah -- yes, the Louis CK one was brilliant. Loved it so much (but I think that's b/c Louis CK is brilliant)...

@Mary Anne --- totally! Me too!!

Marie said...

I love Indian food, but don't cook it at home much because I have this idea that the flavors won't be as intense. But, this butter chicken looks so inviting! May have to give it a whirl.