A rich cashew nut sauce gives this butter chicken recipe a wonderfully creamy taste and authentic flavour, says Naqiyah Mayat, author of The Beginning: Indian Recipes from my Home.

FOR THE CASHEW SAUCE:

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted (raw) cashew nuts
  • 2 T ghee
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2-4 cloves
  • 2-4 cardamom pods
  • ½ tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 T ground green chilli
  • ½ cup reduced fat cream
  • 1 cup fat-free or low-fat milk
  • ½ cup water
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Toast the cashew nuts in a pan to release a nutty aroma, then grind to a fine powder.
  2. In a pot, add the ghee and heat on medium heat.
  3. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom pods, cumin seeds and onion.
  4. Sauté till golden and translucent.
  5. Add the ground cashews and incorporate them into the ghee and onion mixture.
  6. To this, add the ground green chilli (to taste) and mix well.
  7. Add the cream, fat-free or low-fat milk and water.
  8. Add salt to taste and allow the sauce to thicken.
  9. Using a stick blender, purée and blend the sauce.

FOR THE CHICKEN:

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken cut into smaller, bite-size pieces
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 1 t fine black pepper
  • 1 t turmeric
  • ½ t ground cumin powder
  • ½ t ground coriander powder
  • 3 T butter
  • 3 pieces of charcoal
  • Fresh coriander, to garnish

Method:

  1. Cut 1 chicken into smaller, bite-size pieces. (I prefer using the meatier pieces and adding in 2 chicken fillets to make up a full kilogram. I omit the wings and drumsticks altogether.)
  2. Add the lemon juice, fine black pepper, turmeric, ground cumin powder and ground coriander powder.
  3. In an oven-safe pan, add the butter and seal the chicken. Remove from the stove-top.
  4. Pour the liquid from the grill pan into the sauce and mix well. (You should achieve a yellow-coloured sauce at this stage.)
  5. Place the chicken in the oven under the grill to cook.
  6. Once the chicken has browned, add the chicken to the sauce and stir well.
  7. Light 3 pieces of charcoal and empty into a foil-lined small dish. Place the dish in the middle of the pot containing the sauce and chicken. Add 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil to the charcoal and close the lid immediately.
  8. Switch the stove off and leave the coal in for 10 minutes.
  9. Discard the coal and garnish with fresh coriander and crushed cashew nuts, if desired.