Dinner Tonight: Balti Butter Chicken, et al

(image via Penzey’s Spices*)

When I was in high school, I had a friend whose mom made the best curry EVER. Sometimes if I was lucky, she’d bring me some. My family didn’t eat curry. They claim to not like it. So.

Back in 2001 when I moved to NY, the family I worked for as a nanny ate a lot of curry. The mom made her own curry out of toasted spices–just like my friend’s mom. I was in heaven.

Then I met my husband–also a lover of curry. In fact, I think most of our dates centered around eating at Indian restaurants. It was our tradition. When I first got pregnant, I ate at my favorite restaurant, Rangoli, after all of my prenatal appointments. And when we were in Norway the summer of 2004 (when I was pregnant) we sought out Indian food there. We just love it.

However….when it comes to making curry I’m not the greatest. I try so, so hard. It’s always edible, just not as authentic. What can I do?

I bought a great book on clearance at Borders back in 2002 (in the midst of dating my husband) with hopes of becoming great at making Indian food. Mostly I make one or two recipes because they are easy and I usually have all the ingredients on had.

(Locals–I just found out about a new spice store up in Salt Lake City run by an Indian man. I’m going to check it out and take pictures. The word from my Aunt Robin is that they are fresh in bulk. Be still my heart.)

Anyway, I’m making Balti Butter Chicken tonight. I’m salivating at the thought. It’s one of the things my kids will actually eat these days. The little bums.

I make a few changes to the recipe (you can find it here). I like to puree the ingredients in my food processor (minus the onions) and pour it over frozen chicken breasts.

I let it marinate all day as the chicken thaws. The chicken gets very tender this way. (And I’m too scatterbrained to think ahead and thaw the chicken the day before.)

Sometime I’ll get around to taking “after” pictures. But for now, just imagine it.

We like to make Naan, too. This is a very simple rendition of the recipe from The Joy of Cooking. Since we started making it on our baking stone, it’s been exponentially better.

Here’s our menu:

Balti Butter Chicken (I cut the amount of butter used in half)
Saffron rice (our recipe is similar)
Curried Lentils (this is the same as my recipe, except I don’t add yogurt)

And for dessert, if I could, we’d have Chai Cake with Honey Ginger Cream. We’ll have to settle for scraping the hoar frost off the leftover ice cream in the freezer.

Or you could try one of these:

Non-Fat Mango Frozen Yogurt
Cardamom and Saffron Ice Cream from Tartelette

*I highly recommend the curry powders from Penzey’s. They are really, really good. I have Rogan Josh and the Garam Masala.

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  1. Everytime I see a recipe with butter in it, I want to make it. This one is now exception.

    Love the idea of marinating as the chicken thaws. Who ever can remember to thaw chicken before dinner time?

  2. Um, can I come over for dinner tonight? Your menu is out of this world. The sauce looks amazing and I went to check out the recipe- I would love it.
    I can’t wait to see the pictures from the store you are checking out.
    We had neighbors from India a couple years ago and they made the best food. Loved it.
    Ok, this is getting really long, but, I made your jicama salad and I am planning on posting it over the weekend. I didn’t think you would care, but just checking!

  3. Lindsey – I love me a good curry, I too am no good at it, although I am sure you are lying. A few questions — did you roast the spices or no? Did you use the bay leaf? Do you think the cream is necessary or no? I love that you put it all on the frozen chicken. I am so making this and a mango lassi.

  4. I think my invitation to your dinner tonight was lost in the mail. What time should I be there? 6?

    Oh, how I wish I had a husband who liked curry…I only get to eat it with my cooking club friends.

  5. You people and your Penzey’s.

    You should all be buying from World Spice in Seattle–so old fashioned that they don’t even take credit cards, they just send you the invoice and you mail back a check.

    They have a zillion curries, each better than the last. Their Masala is spectacular, they have no equal. And if you’re hankering for a chai without tea, their herbal chai is to die for.


  6. I’ve not tried Indian. I think I would need to try it at a restaurant before I atempt it at home.

    Even though your curry isn’t all that you’d like it to be your ice cream is outstanding! I’d much prefer to eat ice cream! :)

  7. Nobody in my family nor my friends back home like Indian food. I end up making curry myself at school. The closest restaurant back home is 20 minutes away, so even if I get take out, it would be cold by the time I got home.

    Your menu sounds delicious! Maybe I’ll make it next time I’m cooking for myself.

  8. in the same boat. how do you compare to a good indian curry. my husband spent too msny years in europe eating the good stuff to put up with the learning curve on my part. we are headed to bombay house tomorrow night and it really makes my heart flutter….
    i am going to attempt the naan bread though, maybe even try some parshwani (sp)? thanks for the recipe link!

  9. I am alone in my curry love. I have to try to sneak it into food (impossible, in case you were wondering).

    That sauce looks incredible and so does the naan – I’m going to try that for sure.

  10. I’m so excited to see/hear how it turns out, Lindsey! I have that same book, though I’ve still not tried anything from it. I mostly rely on Indian blogs for recipes…aayisrecipes is particularly wonderful (my boyfriend considers it totally authentic to the food he ate growing up, which I take as a good recommendation).

  11. I love butter chicken. It is mostly from the Hadrabad region and lucky for me, we have a Hydrabadi indian place. Heaven.

    Trader Joes also sells a frozen version.. delightful!

    I served my mission in England and ate lots of amazing indian food. I am headed over ina few weeks and always bring back a suitcase full of spices (they are pretty cheap there). give me your list!! I have made so many of your recipies that I owe you.

    Do you ever make the raita? Shoot. Now I want curry…

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