It came down to putting away the Christmas decorations or making you a warming pot of butter chicken.
It wasn’t a tough choice.
I’ve had many of you on my mind with the brutal cold and in all frankness, I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to the holidays. With both boys at home, we’ve had the uncommon luxury of family time (mostly civil), the benefit of all hands on deck (well, more help than usual anyway), and a return to the simpler days of watching movies and playing board games (The Settlers of Catan was the boys’ choice this year – I wasn’t keen at first thinking it was going to be a war/conquest game but the focus is actually on resource building and trading, more fun than expected. Yep, Mom prejudged and started a little skirmish of her own).
Then there’s waking up without an alarm — is there any greater pleasure? Maybe lingering over latte macchiato and amandines…
I love the deep quiet of January with its glinting promise. On the cusp of something new but not quite ready to be shaken awake from the reverie of the season.
So for now, the Christmas tree stays up but I’ll soon be buckling to neighborhood pressure to take down our outdoor lights. Life rolls along. Let’s talk about this butter chicken!
Full of aromatic spices, you will luv the intensity of flavor in this dish. The seasoning is calibrated to give you a nice bite without being over the top. If you are heat sensitive though, just skip the cayenne all together – you will still benefit from all the warming Indian entourage including the garam masala which plays a starring role here (very easy to find if you’re not familiar).
The sauce, of which there is plenty (I like a little chicken with my sauce), is built from tomato and yogurt (no coconut milk this time) though I did accompany with a coconut infused brown basmati (just add 1 Tbsp of coconut oil to the rice while cooking, works like a charm), the boys love it too.
I’ve included lots of detail in the instructions to guide you to best results.
I hope you love this simple and delicious meal (there’s still time to make it today!) and that it fills your tummy with warmth and happiness.
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tsp garam masala
- 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 2 x 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
- 2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces (I cut my pieces small, just a preference)
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt (I used 2% fat) fat free is not recommended
- 2 Tbsp tapioca starch (also sometimes called tapioca flour)
- salt & pepper
- Place tomato sauce in the slow cooker.
- In a small bowl, combine dry spices: garam masala, chili, cumin, turmeric and cayenne (if using). Add spices to tomato sauce, mixing to combine and then toss in the onion, garlic and ginger mixing again.
- Add the chicken making sure that the sauce is covering most of the pieces before closing the lid. Cook on low heat for 6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours (depending on your particular slow cooker).
- About 15 minutes before serving, scoop out 4 ladles worth of tomato sauce (about 3 cups) from the slow cooker (there will be lotza sauce) and place in a separate roomy mixing bowl. Add the tapioca to the sauce whisking enthusiastically to combine (don't worry about small clumps) then stir in the yogurt just until combined (the mixture will be very thick but fear not) pour the entire contents back into the slow cooker and use a wooden spoon to fully integrate - you will end up with a nice saucy consistency. I usually add a few cracks of salt and pepper at this stage.
- Allow the mixture to continue warming for another 10-15 minutes and then adjust seasonings before serving (salt, pepper, touch of sweet), as desired. Top with chopped chives, diced avocado or fresh herbs such as parsley or cilantro (or simply enjoy it on its own). Accompany with a grain or over coleslaw and a side of veg of choice.
What is Garam Masala? Garam Masala is a mixture of warming spices commonly used in Indian cuisine. In addition to cumin and coriander this delicious spice also typically offers clove, cardamom and a touch of cinnamon. These spices are recognized not only for their taste but also their thermogenic properties (their ability to elevate body temperature).
Why Chicken Thighs? I've probably mentioned this many times but I'm partial to chicken thighs for their tenderness (never dry or rubbery in recipes) as a bonus, they're also cheaper than breasts.
Is there a vegetarian option? You can absolutely use cooked pulses instead of chicken in this recipe (with a shorter cooking time). I recommend chickpea (I also have other warming recipes featuring beans, have a look under lentils & legumes in the Index).
How hot is this recipe? The heat in this recipe is perceptible but not over the top. If you prefer, simply skip the cayenne to bring it down.