(note: when reading the title of this recipe, please add the Indian head shake)
By Renu Jain Chandarana @renujc
My favorite dish to order at an Indian restaurant has always been shahi paneer. Something about the colour of the gravy – deep yet bright reddish pink, the smell – garlicky and tomato-y, the texture and taste – creamy, velvety, salty, spicy and full bodied. I mean it really is one of my favorite things.
I’ve never tried butter chicken, and so I’ve always assumed ‘butter chicken’ tasted the same way. My husband says this recipe is the closest he’s tasted to a vegetarian butter chicken sauce. I’ll take that as a compliment since there is such a worldwide craze for butter chicken. Shahi paneer – not so much.
The world is so crazy for this dish that I remember hearing rumours of a vegetarian wedding reception that also did not have any alcohol. At some point in the night, a few of the young men went out into the parking lot to eat butter chicken and drink from the trunks of their cars! Seriously?
After trying this recipe, you might want to make it the ‘ketchup’ of your home. Macaroni and cheese? Add a little gravy. Lasagna? Add a few spoons of this gravy to your sauce. Grilled Cheese sandwich? Dip a cheesy gooey edge into the gravy. Mashed potatoes? Pour it on! Getting french fries from the drive through?
Open the glove box of your car and pull out your gravy stash and dip dip away!
These are just a few non-Indian ways I enjoy eating this. When I stay a bit more authentic, I add paneer, or peas and paneer, as well as stir-fried mixed vegetables (mushrooms, bell peppers, cauliflower, baby corn or kernel sweet corn) and firm tofu.
Of course, for any non-vegetarians, this could be a base for any animal protein you like. I’m no expert there…but please tell me if it worked for you!
You might be tempted to bathe in the gravy – but don’t do it. I tried this once and people kept coming at me with their naan.
The Greatest Indian Curry
Servings: 8 adult dinner portions
(once you’ve added your protein and veggies)
1Tbsp Fresh Garlic ground to a fine paste
1Tbsp Fresh Ginger ground to a fine paste
2 cups Crushed Fresh Tomatoes (blitzed in blender)
1 398 ml can Plain tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1 tsp Garam Masala
½ tsp (or to taste) Salt
½ tsp Cardamom powder (take the green pods and
grind to a powder in spice grinder – skin on)
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 tsp or to taste Sugar (optional)
1/2 cup chopped Cilantro – to garnish (optional)
Melt butter in a large cooking pot (or wok) on medium heat. Once bubbling, add ginger and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes. Do not brown. Add in the blended fresh tomato and simmer for about 5 minutes (this will let that water from the tomatoes evaporate).
Add the canned tomato and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add the following spices – paprika, ground coriander, garam masala, and the salt.
Reserve the ground cardamom for the very end.
Stir and let simmer for another 5 minutes. Lower the heat and add the cream. Allow it to come to another boil. Turn the heat off and stir in the sugar (if using) and cardamom. Garnish your final dish (once you’ve added the protein and/or veggies of your choice) with cilantro. Serve with hot naan and hot basmati rice.
NOTE: This recipe freezes really well, but here’s a tip. If you are going to freeze it – don’t add the cream until you are ready to defrost it. Defrost your frozen portion and re-heat it on the stove. Once it’s simmering, add the cream and simmer again for a few minutes. This will revive it from being frozen, but also it will prevent the cream from curdling upon defrosting or reheating.
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