Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thrifty Tuesday...the most velvety butter chicken and low fat too!

Who doesn't love Butter Chicken?
The Diva returned from school camp recently and asked for orange chicken. She could not elaborate beyond that. It took some weeks to discover that she didn't mean chicken in orange flavoured sauce, but chicken in orange coloured sauce AKA Butter chicken.

Here is my own recipe for the best, most silky, fragrant butter chicken ever.

Best of all, it's low fat AND microwaveable.

Okay, don't get on my case about the authenticity and all that stuff. I know that REAL butter chicken is marinated for days, cooked in a tandoor oven, and slathered in rich creamy sauce.

But I never could leave a good thing alone, and for as long as this dish is my daughters favourite, and we are compelled to consume it at least once a week, my hips and my time management requirements dictated that I commit the small blasphemy of finding a better way of cooking and serving butter chicken.

Like many of the best recipes, this one has evolved from the original, with some of my own touches.

So without further ado, here it is....

Best results are obtained by marinating this overnight, but if that's not possible, give it at least two hours.

For four serves, you need:

about 750gms chicken thigh or breast, cut into large chunks

For the marinade, you need:
one cup of buttermilk
one teaspoon each of smokey paprika, cumin, turmeric, minced ginger, minced or ground coriander and Garam Masala
1/2-1 teaspoon minced garlic depending on how much you like garlic
a teeny pinch or more of cayenne pepper according to taste
one very heaped teaspoon of tomato paste

For the rice, you need:
2 cups long grain rice
3 cups water
pinch of salt

To make the sauce from the marinade later, you need:

1 1/2 cups tomato puree...it's called Passata in the supermarkets here or one 400gm tin of diced tomatoes
one tablespoon of butter
1 heaped tablespoon of flour
1 cup low fat mik

Combine the marinade ingredients in a large container or bowl, and throw in the chicken chunks. Leave for at least two hours, and preferably overnight.

While the chicken is marinating, cook your rice. Now I'm going to give you my most secret secret for cooking perfect, fluffy rice every time, without a rice cooker....pay attention.


In a large saucepan for which you have a tightly fitting lid, combine rice and water at the ratio of once and a half cups of water to each cup of rice. If you like your rice fairly moist and plump, add an extra 1/8th of a cup of water for good measure, along with a good pinch of salt.

Bring the rice and water to the boil, stir well to loosen the grains, put the lid on and SWITCH OFF. Yes....off.

Leave the pan with the lid on, for 20 minutes. If you have an electric or ceramic hotplate, just leave it there so it cooks with a bit of residual heat. If you have gas, check after 15 minutes and if it's still watery, turn the gas back on, bring back to a simmer, switch off and replace the lid.

After 20-25 minutes, you should have perfect fluffy rice....that's if you haven't peeked!

Tip your rice into a microwave safe bowl and cover for serving later.


20 minutes before serving time, take the chicken chunks out of the marinade. Set the marinade aside to make the sauce.

Put the chicken chunks into a microwave safe dish, and cover with a microwave safe lid or cling wrap. Microwave on high for 7 minutes, stirring after 3 minutes. Leave to stand for 5 minutes. The chicken will continue to cook during this time. Don't worry if it's not entirely cooked through. By the time it stands for a bit, and you stir it through your sauce, it'll be just be perfect.


While your velvety, delicious chicken is 'standing', make your sauce. This is done by simply pouring the remaining marinade into a pan, and adding the tomato puree`. Bring this to a low simmer over a medium heat, until hot and steaming.

While this continues on a low simmer, make your sauce thickener. This really gives the butter chicken some substance and a delicious creamy texture without the calories.

In a large microwave safe jug, melt the butter. Stir in your flour, and microwave on high for one minute, stirring well afterwards.

Pour your milk into a microwave safe cup or jug and heat until steaming. About 90 seconds on 'high' power is about enough.

Whisk the steaming milk into the flour and butter (this is called a roux) until smooth.

Microwave in one minute blasts, stirring well after each minute, for three minutes until thick.

Pour this milky sauce into your tomato marinade mixture and whisk thoroughly until smooth and thick.

At this point, you'll add your velvety chicken to the silky sauce, and allow it to heat well.


For best presentation, get a teacup or jelly mould, and spray it with cooking spray.

Heat the rice in the microwave on 'high' for 3 minutes and fluff with a fork.

Have your plates out ready to go.

Carefully spoon the rice into the teacup and compress it well. Invert the teacup onto your plate and you'll end up with a neat little mound of rice.

Carefully spoon some chicken onto the plate with a slotted spoon, so you don't slop sauce everywhere. Then use a large spoon to serve some of the sauce over the chicken, drizzling a little decoratively over the rice.

Sprinkle with fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves or flaked almonds.

Serve immediately.



  1. Your recipe looks lovely, shall have to give it a try, especially being low fat! :)

  2. My DH and DD are going to lurve this! :-))

  3. Hi Mimi, that looks delicious, I'm salivating now....Sherrie from Simpleliving :)

  4. Brenton's all time fav dinner. Love this healthier version :]


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