I missed a trick recently. A friend of ours, the talented Mr Tarquin Hall, is the author of a hugely entertaining series of books about a plump, food-obsessed Indian detective called Vish Puri.
Vish’s third published outing was The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken, in which the portly Punjabi private eye investigates the murder by poisoning of a Pakistani businessman at a cricket match dinner. I love Tarq’s books: they’re funny, they cover a range of social issues confronting modern-day India without polemics or patronisation and when Vish is sneaking the fattening street food banned by his long-suffering wife, they make your tummy rumble.
On the Vish Puri website Tarquin’s wife, the journalist and broadcaster Anu Anand, has added a series of recipes including one for a delicious (and you’ll be pleased to know poison-free) Butter Chicken.
Someone recently posted a review of the book AND a recipe for butter chicken, though not the Vish Puri version. Curses, I thought, why didn’t I think of that? So I have shamelessly nicked the idea, using (with permission) Anu’s recipe.
Anu was brought up in America so I’ve given her US measurements alongside the metric equivalents.
Vish Puri's Butter Chicken
2lb/900g chicken, skinned and preferably boned
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
1 tspn red chilli powder
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods
10 almonds, roasted or 56g/2 oz ground almonds
1 US cup/240ml of yoghurt
1 tsp garam masala
2 tspn ground coriander
1 tspn ground cumin
1/4 tspn ground turmeric
4 tbsp oil
1 large or 2 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
1 tspn grated ginger or ginger paste
2 tspn garlic, peeled and crushed, or garlic paste
1x 14oz/400g can chopped tomatoes
1 US cup/240ml chicken stock
2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
3 tbsp softened butter
4 tbsp cream
1/2 US cup/28g coriander leaves
Mix the chicken, lime juice, chilli powder and salt in a large non-reactive bowl and set aside.
Dry-roast the whole spices and whole almonds, if using, in a hot pan on a medium heat until they’re beginning to colour lightly.
Grind them to a powder.
Mix the yoghurt, ground spices, ground almonds, garam masala, coriander, cumin and turmeric powders in a large bowl, add the chicken with its first marinade, stir well to coat and set aside for an hour.
Heat the oil in a deep pan, add the chopped onion and fry until golden, then add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute or two more, stirring to make sure they don’t catch.
Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and fry until the flesh turns white, stirring frequently.
Add the tomatoes and the remaining marinade and cook for a few minutes more.
Add the chicken stock and fenugreek leaves and cook gently until the chicken is tender and the sauce has thickened.
Melt the butter and add it to the dish with the cream and chopped coriander leaves. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Serve with steamed basmati rice and garnish with a few sprigs of coriander.
Thank you, Anu and Tarquin, it was worthy of Mummy-ji.