Butter chicken with a chilli kick

Issue date: 06 June 2008

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Some inside tips first: lime juice IS better than lemon juice, but lemon will make a good second option. The pawpaw is optional, but it’s very good as it tenderises the chicken and slightly thickens the sauce. Okay, so to start, chop the fowl into standard sections and discard the skin. Make one or two deep gashes in the flesh of each piece – this will hasten the marinating process. Crush, peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel and mince the fresh ginger. Chop the chillies after discarding the seeds. Peel and depip a section of pawpaw and mash it with a fork. Select a wide, flat-bottomed dish that’s big enough to contain the chicken pieces without overlap. Into this, pour the yoghurt, garlic, ginger, chillies, mashed pawpaw, lime juice, cinnamon, cumin and half a teaspoon of garam masala. Mix well, then immerse the chicken sections in the marinade.

Let them sit for a minimum of one hour, although overnight in the fridge is best. When the marinade period is over, select a large, heavy-bottomed stainless steel frying pan with a fitted lid. Add a few tablespoons of sunflower, peanut or canola oil and bring to medium heat. Carefully pour the entire contents of the marinade vessel – all the chicken plus the marinade – into the frying pan and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Let the chicken cook until done to your liking, checking from time to time.

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Stir occasionally to prevent adhesions. In a second frying pan melt the butter, then add the canned tomatoes, all the juice from the can and the sachet of concentrate. Stir well, add the remainder of the garum masala and the cream. Pour this over the cooked chicken in the first frying pan. Serve this wonderful meal with freshly made basmati rice, and garnish with a sprig of well-washed coriander and a couple of teaspoons of finely chopped spring onion. This meal deserves an ultra-chilled Pilsener or even two. – David Basckin |fw