28 – Breathtaking Butter Chicken

Despite our best efforts, some things just don’t turn out as we plan for them to. We have an idea in our head of exactly what will happen, yet what in actuality happens (or fails to happen) is worlds away from that preconceived idea. Thankfully, sometimes having our plans derailed is in fact quite a very good thing. Tonight, that was definitely the case. Though I had a clear idea in my head of what the evening would hold, what ended up taking place was much, much better.

With all my school’s students having cleared out of the halls on a sunny Friday afternoon, I was determined to get some overdue marking done. I’d already talked to my wife, Mateja, and let her know of my gung-ho, “gonna stay late on a Friday afternoon and actually get something accomplished” attitude. She was out on a walk with my sister and her three kids, so she was by no means sitting around at home in eager anticipation of my return. Knowing she was pleasantly occupied, we set a relaxed game plan for the evening: I would finish up at work by five pm, and then pick up Indian food on the way home.

That plan lasted all of 45 minutes. It was after that period of time that I started receiving pictures via Mateja, showing all the fun that was being had without me. After only the second picture, the procrastinator side of my personality won out. I very quickly logged off my computer, packed up a pile of papers I hope (fingers crossed) to mark before Monday, and took off towards my wife’s last known whereabouts. Thankfully, I was able to join the group while there was still fun (and sunlight) to be had.

Work an extra hour on a Friday afternoon, or hang out with these two and their too-cool-for-a-picture older sister. After being sent these two photos, I had no choice but to rush across town to play with my second-best friend (pictured left, 9 months old), my best friend (Mateja), and my sister and nieces (whom I dare not rank).

Not wanting to drive back across town for the originally-planned takeout (Shandhar Hut, in Chilliwack, B.C., in case you’re curious – it’s amazing), and with Mateja having just eaten a small meal to tide her over, a new plan was created. Instead of purchasing butter chicken, I was given free reign – for the first time ever – to make it from scratch.

Of all the Indian dishes I’ve made in the past (actually made, not simply reheated), I’d never tackled the über-popular dish (probably because I hadn’t seen one in either of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks). Having made a ton of curry in the past few months, today was the first day that Mateja wasn’t still too sick of eating such things to veto my menu choice.

The recipe I used is called “Best Butter Chicken“, and was created by Jennifer Pillian over at foodess.com. Not only is Jennifer a Vancouverite (like me), but she also spent time living in the Maritimes (also like me). So, it seems like it was somehow my destiny to discover this recipe. The taste of this dish seemed to serve as confirmation of that theory.

As with most recipes I’ve replicated so far, I felt no need (nor confidence) to greatly alter any ingredients or methods (aside from adding an extra tablespoon of butter). Therefore, I won’t be posting the recipe, but simply linking to it.

As with most of my blog posts so far, I’m into TL;DR territory (Too Long; Didn’t Read), so I’ll once again finish this post via photos and accompanying captions. In fact, I’ll even sign off now. Until next time, happy cooking!

Butter chicken 007
Only my second marinade I’ve ever done…and the first one was two days ago. When it rains, it apparently also pours.
Butter chicken 012
Caramelizing onions. Would you describe these as golden?
Butter chicken 008
Spices ready for duty.
Butter chicken 013
Spices deployed. This is where things get real; where the scent starts to tease.
Butter chicken 014
Diced tomatoes added in…
Butter chicken 017
…then the cream (33% milk fat, because that’s what I had).
Butter chicken 020
I was beginning to wonder why my butter chicken was looking a lot chunkier than all the others I’ve ever eaten, but then I remembered the purpose of the immersion blender I’d just plugged in.
Butter chicken 021
These were the last of the ingredients to be added to the curry, but I’d say they’re pretty essential for butter chicken. They are: the butter and the chicken.
Butter Chicken
The finished product, accompanied by my wine pairing for the evening. As you can see, my choice wine was beer. Specifically, it’s Kozel, a Czech lager I occasionally drink in honour of Mateja and the formative years she spent living in Prague.
Butter chicken 035
After putting away the leftovers, Mateja decided to use the remaining naan bread we had to polish off the Dutch oven. By the way, this is only the first time this Dutch oven has been used (it was a Christmas present); based on its stellar performance tonight, you can expect to see a lot more of it in future posts.

Okay, it doesn’t feel right ending on a caption. So, I’ll add that I very highly recommend this recipe, not only for its amazing taste, but also for how simple it really is. A little bit of effort, and a little bit of time, and you have a dish so good that you have to remind yourself to breathe because you’re eating it to quickly. That’s actually why I called it “breathtaking” – not because you’ll lose your breathe looking at it, but because you’ll need to come up for air when inhaling it. On that note, thanks for reading, and enjoy the weekend.


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