Rinku’s Butter Chicken
I’ve been quiet for a while now. A lot has happened since this summer and here’s a speedy synopsis of how it all went.
July: Started my internship at a modern French restaurant owned by a michelin master
August: Had an epic summer holiday in the South of France. Got our wallets rinsed. Came back and joined the grind, still fresh-eyed and bushy tailed
September: Learning how to fine-chop shallots at the speed of light, sugar-crafting for desserts, de-boning a ton of mackarel, squeezing a million lemons, cleaning numerous kilos of squid each week, and plucking endless cartons of herbs. Getting promoted to do more fun stuff with meat and fish since a huge exodus of staff occurred
October: Bushy tail now deflating at an accelerating rate. Exodus of staff reversed by a larger influx of staff, diluting my responsibilities to cleaning squid and deboning mackerel. Slipped and fell down the dumb gaping hole in the floor, aka the trap door leading to the chambre froide and bruised myself black and blue. Got baselessly accused for leaving the garde manger mise-en-place fridge door open, letting all prep rot overnight (it was probably the ill-recruited intern with only “theoretical” training in french cuisine – can anyone explain what could possibly be so “theoretical” about cooking??), followed by having to do five times as much of squid cleaning, mackarel de-boning, and herb plucking in a day. Couldn’t be bothered with watching out for crazy sous-chef going schizo, cocky commis getting lippy, and dodgy manager playing with my hair so, “GASP”, quit a WHOLE WEEK before my internship was due to end.
My exit transpired into being rather controversial. The chef de cuisine is best buddies with the dean so went on a rant (still not sure why considering he was informed of how the kitchen was a loony bin by yours truly). Predictably, I was advised, “Zees eez zee life in zee cuizeeen.” That’s hardly constructive. What would’ve been constructive is if I was told, “You should’ve informed us before you decided to bust a move. Perhaps we could’ve talked to your chef, or found you an alternative. It’s a bit of a cock-up now since nobody wants to touch you in case you pull another one of your stunts that makes it difficult for placing our future students in the same restaurant.” Of course, they would not have been able to talk to the chef in a way that could reap a modicum of benefit, but perhaps they would have found me an alternative to move onto before the end of my internship, which could have motivated me to stick it out for just that extra week. But I didn’t talk to the school. And it is all my fault.
I wasn’t too glum for long. N&D and I went away to Budapest, which provided as the most romantic backdrop to the most romantic proposal to which I responded with a most romantic, “OH MY GOD NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH YES YES OF COURSE YES YES AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”. So, now we are most romantically engaged🙂 and I am over the moon and very excited. Very excited to start planning a wedding, very excited to plan the move back to London, and very excited to plan a business when back.
All the planning has already started taking its toll. Planning is painful. Exciting, but so very painful. The fun stuff, such as looking at hotel websites, cakes, dresses, two bedroom properties, kitchens, macaron flavours and packaging starts fading away and then one has to start dealing with logistics, budgets, removals, tax accounting, business registration et all.
Since planning requires a lot of sitting in front of my computer with 21 internet explorer windows and five excel spreadsheets open, I consider Skype an awesome bonus. N&D and my bezzies from home on tap! And this post is homage to them.
Noone can do butter chicken like my favourite butter chicken from home at Caesar’s. Noone but Rinku, who is a seasoned Punjabi domestic goddess. I was drowning in a world of French and British bureaucracy when I felt like the only thing that would give me much-needed buoyancy was some good butter chicken, which would’ve been impossible to find in Paris. Unless of course you have a buddy like mine. Madhur Jaffrey’s got nothing on her.
Rinku’s Butter Chicken
4 chicken breasts, cut in 1 inch cubes (try to stay away from battery botched chicken meat as it tends to be way too watery and tough when cooked)
1/2 a lemon’s juice
2 tblsp yoghurt
1/2 tsp mustard oil
6 cloves of garlic, peeled with germe removed
2 inch chunk of ginger, peeled
2 tsps tandoori masala
Salt to taste
2 knobs of butter
Dash of groundnut oil
6-8 rounds of freshly ground black pepper
5 green cardamom pods
3 sticks of cinnamon
3 cloves of garlic, peeled, germe removed, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 inch chunk of ginger, peeled, julienned
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
2 tbsp cream
2 tsp dried fenugreek
Black sesame seeds
Water, for consistency
1. Blitz all the marinade ingredients together to a paste. Marinate the chicken in it for 24 hours (I cheated and marinated for less than 2 and it was finger lickin’ good. I can only imagine how amazing it would be after being tenderised in the marinade for a day). Heat some butter and oil in a pan, sautee the chicken till browned on all sides over medium heat, leave aside to rest.
2. In a wok or chef’s pan, melt the butter and oil together over medium heat. Sautee the cardamom, pepper and cinnamon till the spicy aromas have released. Add in the chopped garlic and stir till golden. Add the tomatoes in and cook till a mushed thick consistency. Remove the cinnamon bark and blend the rest to a puree.
3. In the same pan, melt another knob of butter. Stir fry the julienned ginger and chillies. Add in the tomato paste, fry for a few minutes, and then add in the spicy puree. Stir for a few minutes to mix well and add in the red chilli powder, garam masala and sugar. Adjust the consistency with hot water.
4. Put the sauteed chicken into the sauce and let simmer for 10 mins.
5. Finish with pouring in the cream, fenugreek and black sesame seeds.
If you have some naan to scoop up the sauces, then lucky you.