Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fancy a Curry, Love?

Everyone has a go to dish they make when they want to impress guests/coworkers/in-laws. For my mom, it was baked ziti and homemade garlic bread; for me, it's a deliciously creamy, slightly spicy makhani that is incredibly versatile.
The best thing about this curry is that it's so flavourful. It can be mild without being bland, and spicy without simply being a tear-jerker - it's up to you. Also, it's just as good with paneer (my husband even asks for a bit in his chicken version) as it is with any meat.
I think lots of people are scared of making a curry without a jar of Patak's because there are so many spices involved, most of them unfamiliar. While this recipe has a lot of ingredients, it's actually quite simple to make, and I've made it so many times that the tweaks I've made to the measurements will ensure a perfect curry every time.

Paneer (or Chicken) Makhani

Ingredients (in order of appearance)

1t coriander powder
1t cumin powder
½ t tumeric
½ t garam masala powder
1t chili powder
1t cayenne powder (optional - if you like it with a little kick, I’d recommend it)
¼ c cashews or almonds
1 softball sized onion
2T dried fenugreek/kasuri methi leaves
2T canola/vegetable oil
1lb chicken or paneer, cut into cubes
3T butter
1t ginger paste
1t garlic paste
2c tomato puree (or one 15 oz can)
2c any vegetables you’d like (broccoli, bell peppers and frozen green peas are usually nice)
salt to taste
½c cup heavy cream
1T chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation (45 minutes)
  1. Measure out the coriander, cumin, tumeric, garam masala, chili powder and cayenne powder and combine in one bowl.  This will save you burning things later, as I have done hunting through the pantry for one spice.
  2. Put cashews or almonds in a bowl of warm water, and leave to soak.  If you happen to have cashew or almond nut paste, then just use 1T of that.
  3. Cut onion into chunks and boil until soft/translucent.  If you do this in a 3 qt saucepan, it will be the only pan you have to use for the whole dish.
  1. Drain water (and reserve) and blend onions into a smooth paste.  Allow to cool.
  1. In a 3qt saucepan, dry roast the kasuri methi for five minutes over medium heat.  Remove it from the pan, and crush it into a fine powder with your fingers.  If is not turning to powder, dry roast it a bit longer.  Set aside.
    1. Dry roast bowl of spices over medium heat for 5 minutes to cook out the raw flavour.  Set aside.
    2. In the same saucepan, heat oil and cook chicken.  I like to toss a little tumeric, cumin and coriander on the chicken while it is raw.  It gives it a lovely yellow colour and some extra flavour.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

    Note: If you are using paneer, do not dust with spices.  After browning, soak the paneer in salted water until later to keep it soft.

    1. Melt butter in the saucepan and add onion paste.  Cook to a golden brown.
    1. Add ginger and garlic pastes and let simmer for 1-2 minutes.
    2. Add the bowl of roasted spices and mix well.
    1. Add the tomato puree and simmer over low heat.
    1. Take cashews or almonds out of the water and grind to a paste.  If you have a mortar and pestle, that will work best, but I usually just place them between two sheets of wax/parchment paper and mash them with a rolling pin or can.  Add to pan.
    2. Simmer for 10 minutes.  If it starts to get to dry, add some of the reserved onion water.  
    3. Salt to taste.  If it’s too mild for you, you can always add some more cayenne pepper at this point.
    4. Add cream and kasuri methi powder and simmer for 5 minutes.
    5. Add any vegetables you’d like (broccoli, peas and bell peppers usually work well) as well as the chicken or paneer, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
    1. Remove from heat, serve over rice and garnish with chopped cilantro.  Enjoy!

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