Staff Favorite-Saffron to Sassafras

24 Jun

Kelley Y.  has a favorite locally produced cookbook, Saffron to Sassafras (LA 641.638 S128s). This one of a kind cookbook, in which the Indian community of Baton Rouge shares their most prized recipes, is not to be missed. Kelley loves the traditional butter chicken recipe, known as Makhani Chicken.

Makhani Chicken

2 pounds chicken breast or 3 pounds chicken thighs, boneless

For Marinade:

1 cup yogurt

4 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons salt or to taste

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 tablespoon hot red pepper

For Curry:

1/2 cup oil

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped

2 medium yellow onions, sliced

1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped

2 large hot green peppers

1 tablespoon black pepper

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons coriander powder

For Butter Masala:

1 stick (4 ounces) butter

1 cup onion, sliced

3 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon garam masala

For Garnish:

1/4 cup cilantro

1/4 cup sliced red onion

1 medium tomato, sliced

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon garam masala

Cut chicken into 2-inch cubes. Mix marinade together and pour over the chicken and refrigerate for 4 hours.  Heat oil in a large heavy skillet.  Sprinkle cumin seeds, add ginger and garlic and stir for 30 seconds.  Remove chicken from marinade and add to the skillet. Cook until brown.  Add sliced onions, chopped tomatoes, and green peppers.  Cook until tomatoes are soft and chicken is coated.  Cook chicken fully on medium heat, turning frequently.  Do not add any water.  Add leftover marinade, 2-3 tablespoons at a time to prevent sticking.  Use all the marinade, continue to cook until chicken is tender and oil separates from the curry. Add red and black pepper, coriander, cumin powder and mix well.  Remove chicken from the pan.  Add 2 cups of water to the leftover curry in the skillet and reduce to half. Pour over chicken.

Melt butter in clean heavy pan.  Fry onions until light brown, add green onions and continue to fry until brown.  Turn off the heat.  Add paprika and garam masala, stir.  Add cooked chicken and mix well.  Remove to a serving platter.  Garnish with cilantro, sliced onions and tomatoes.  Sprinkle lemon juice, paprika and garam masala just before serving.  Makhani chicken tastes better the day after.  So make it a day in advance.

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