An easy recipe for Indian-influenced butter chicken

Chattanooga doesn't have an overabundance of Indian restaurants in town, but those that do have some version of Chicken Tikka Masala. It's a dish for beginners — not too spicy, with ingredients that are familiar to the palate. I think of it as the burger and fries of Indian cooking.

Butter Chicken, another staple in Indian eateries, is much like it, using ingredients you don't have to go out of your way to find. Aromatic golden chicken thighs in an incredible creamy curry sauce ... What's not to love about that?

This Butter Chicken recipe is one of the best you'll try, and if you're in a rush, you'll appreciate will how easy it is to make in the comfort of your own home, especially with some buttery rice and crusty bread to sop up the delicious sauce.

It's a no-fuss, one-pan meal, simplified with just a handful of ingredients and packed with just the right amount of spice. I've made it with and without fenugreek and didn't notice a lot of difference in flavor.

Fenugreek is a spice commonly used in Indian cooking with a slightly sweet flavor similar to maple syrup. In fact, use maple syrup or honey mustard as a substitute. I like the flavor of chicken thighs and using them is more like that served in Indian restaurants, but chicken breasts are OK, too. To make this dish more authentic, serve it with naan that you can pick up in most every Chattanooga market.

Butter Chicken

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 medium onion, diced

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced or grated (may use ginger powder)

2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed

1 1/2 pounds (2 or 3) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4-inch chunks

4 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 teaspoon chili powder or paprika (adjust to taste)

1 teaspoon fenugreek (or honey mustard or maple syrup)

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup heavy cream or yogurt

Hot cooked rice

Heat a large skillet or medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, butter and onions, and cook until onions are slightly golden, 3-4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic, and let cook for 30 seconds, stirring so it doesn't burn.

Add the chicken, tomato paste and spices. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until everything is cooked through. Add the heavy cream, and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice.


AN EASY DINNER

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, Easy Bistro, 801 Chestnut St., will host a dinner featuring the savory creations of Trevor Stockton, executive chef at RT Lodge, a boutique inn in Maryville, Tennessee.

Stockton will work in the kitchen alongside Easy's chef de cuisine, Joe Milenkovic, to treat guests to charcuterie using pickles and preserves made in-house at RT Lodge, raw bar selections, pasta, a meat entree and a variety of sides.

RT Lodge's executive pastry chef, Caitlyn Cox, will also join the dinner to provide dessert and focaccia service.

Those who want the opportunity to try their dishes are encouraged to make reservations for the evening at resy.com. Easy's dining room opens for dinner service at 4 p.m.

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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