Classic Butter Chicken

The dish was created as a way to keep cooked/leftover tandoori chicken from drying out. In case you have not already made Tandoori Chicken (see related recipe), this recipe includes simple instructions for cooking the chicken. The result is not as good as if you make the proper Tandoori Chicken first, but it is simpler.

Serve with finely chopped cilantro, chopped green chile peppers, naan, rice and a good Indian chutney.

Make Ahead: The dish tastes even better after a day’s refrigeration; you may need to add a little cream or water to thin the sauce, which will thicken when once it’s chilled.

FOR THE CHICKEN
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (white and/or dark meat), cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder (may substitute a combination of 2 teaspoons paprika and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup plain, full-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger root

FOR THE SAUCE
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 medium tomatoes, hulled and chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons peeled minced fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon bright red chili powder, such as Kashmiri chili powder (may substitute a combination of chili powder and paprika; see headnote)
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons salted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream

For the chicken: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with cooking oil spray.

Combine the chicken meat with lime juice, chili powder, garam masala, salt, yogurt, garlic and ginger in a mixing bowl, then spread evenly over the baking sheet. Roast (middle rack) for 15 to 18 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, until softened. Stir in the tomato; cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

Use a spatula to press the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer back into the pot, or puree with an immersion (stick) blender right in the pot. Stir in the garlic, ginger, chile powder, garam masala and cumin until well blended, then add the chicken, stirring to coat it with sauce. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, just until heated through.

Just before serving, add the butter. Once it has melted, stir in the cream, until well incorporated. Immediately remove from the heat; serve warm.

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