|Rich and hearty butter chicken, the cure for the Twilight Vampire Pacific Northwest - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
Butter Chicken. It just makes you happy saying it out loud, or letting the words linger in your mindgrape. It's a popular Indian dish, similar to tandoori chicken, but saucier -- oh, behave! It's seasoned chicken marinated and tenderized in yogurt, then cooked in a gravy of spices, tomato and of course, butter. I love this dish, the meat is flavorful and tender, the sauce is tart and acidic from the tomato base and a bit of citrus. It's like a spiced-up marinara sauce that went on holiday to an exotic land.
The base ingredients are simple enough, but getting the right spices for the marinade and sauce can be tricky. The seasoning typically includes cumin, fenugreek, turmeric, coriander, and chili, along with garam masala, which might be the one exotic item that's not at the corner grocery store. It's a spice blend that's generally made up of pepper, cumin, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom, which if you have the whole spices you could make some from scratch, but given its popularity in Indian cuisine, it's more convenient to buy it already ground and blended. It's available at specialty stores and the next time you pass by an Indian grocer, just run in and grab a bottle o' garam masala, so you always have some on hand. Garam masala is one of those fancy-sounding seasonings like Chinese Five Spice powder that you bought for one experimental dish, but rarely use and just stare at it, wondering how the heck you're going to use it. I can't say much for the Chinese Five Spice, but if you've got a lone bottle of garam masala feeling like it needs some purpose in its life, here's its special day!
|Using the whole chicken, from meat to bones - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
This keeps this version of butter chicken a somewhat one-pot meal (if you minus the homemade chicken stock the day before), a convenience I can appreciate, especially when I'm using our heavy duty dutch oven. It holds heat marvelously, sears meat like a boss, but is also a monster to clean, as it's quite heavy. I feel like I've wrestled a bear after cleaning this thing, so it's nice to have the dish washing one-and-done complete after this beast.
Another one-pot wonder is beef stew, but I get bored of the same old English-style beef stew, where you often add beer for the cooking liquid. Not that I don't enjoy a basic beef stew, but sometimes you need to mix things up. And clear out some room in that spice rack because, damn, where did all that marjoram come from? Earlier this year, I came up with a spice mixture that put a Mediterranean twist on a typical beef stew, and it was a nice thing to revisit on a miserable rainy night. Making another version of this exotic beef stew, I threw in a few more dry spices like turmeric and some extra chili powder for heat, but that's the nice thing about making your own spice mixtures -- customize as you like! Be a rebel. A spice rebel.
|Revisiting old recipe friends - Photos by Wasabi Prime|