Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dairy-free butter chicken

Okay, I used actual butter. I try not to think of butter as dairy. To me, it's a fat. A non-dairy fat. If you are serious about your dairy allergy, you can use butter-replacer.

4 chicken thighs, fat removed and separated by drumstick and thigh

1/2 cup plain, unsweetened, non-dairy yoghurt (I used Wildwood Soyogurt)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne/red chili powder
1 tsp tandoori masala
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
a few squeezes of lime, I just squeezed half a lime a bit. I didn't completely squeeze it dry.

Sauce (separated by steps):
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, chopped roughly
1 tbsp garlic, chopped roughly
1 tbsp ginger, chopped roughly

1 can whole tomatoes, drained and seeds rinsed out (rip each tomato open with your hands and pull/rinse out the seeds)
1 tbsp tomato paste

1-2 bay leaves
2-3 cloves
2-3 cardamom pods (crushed a bit)
1 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp Demerara sugar (you can use any non-white sugar)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
black pepper
salt to taste

Let's do it!

To make the marinade, buzz all the spices and salt in a spice grinder until it's powdery. If you're old school, use a mortar and pestle. Mix all the ingredients together and put it in a container with the chicken, stirring well to incorporate. Put this in the fridge and let it sit for at least an hour.

To make the sauce:
Melt the butter in a big pot under medium-high heat. Add the onion and cumin seeds. Let soften for maybe three minutes, then add the garlic and ginger. Cook for another couple few minutes, then transfer in a slotted spoon to a blender and blend. Try to leave as much butter in the pot as possible. This is your onion paste. Put it aside.

Add the tomatoes to the pot and let them saute in the butter for a few minutes. When they look softer (they're already cooked, really) transfer them with the slotted spoon to your blender. I didn't wash it in between, so it still had onion paste in it. I don't think this is a problem. Blend it into a puree.

Add the bay leaves, cloves and cardamom pods to the pot. There should still be plenty of butter in there. This is NOT a healthy recipe. Fry for about a minute, then add the chicken, reserving the marinade. I tried to brown it a bit, but I lost my patience and just dumped the rest of the chicken in there, and covered it with the remaining marinade, onion paste, tomato puree and the tomato paste. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.

Add the turmeric, red chili powder, cinnamon and sugar and let cook for another 15 minutes, covered.

Swish the almond milk in the marinade container, the blender and the thing you put the onion paste in to get every single little bit of the marinade and pastes, and pour it into the pot. Stir and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Hit it with some black pepper at the end. Salt to taste.

Serve with rice.

I am RIDICULOUSLY pleased with this dish. It may be one of the most indulgent, delicious things I've made in a while, and it's (mostly) dairy-free!!  Wheeeee!!!

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