Sunday, 14 February 2016

#readcookeat recipe : Low-Calorie Butter Chicken (With A Friend Like You)

I'm on holiday this week so I'm catching up with my #readcookeat recipes that I've had bookmarked for ages. When I read With A Friend Like You (click through to read my review) back before Christmas, I loved the fact that the women have a book group and bring along dishes inspired by that month's book for their group meal because it's just like the #readcookeat challenge. Here they were reading The Life of Pi :

p57 In the kitchen, she placed her casserole on the butcher's block table. "Butter chicken." She registered Megan's surprise that her culinary skills had been pressed into use on a weekday. "Eat-In's finest." Beth was a regular customer of the company that delivered home-cooked frozen meals to the door. "But no one needs to know that."

At a later meeting :

p161 At least they would get a decent meal tonight. Claire, the host, was a professional private chef. Whenever it was her turn, she shamed the rest of the group by insisting that she would do all the cooking without any contributions from them. But what would adequately accompany Mrs Gaskell's Wives and Daughters? Stewed larks or boiled veal or something equally unpalatable?
   Beth parked outside the modern block of flats near the canal. She was buzzed in through the front door and crossed the carpeted hallway to the lift, which whisked her directly into the flat as if she were royalty. The rich smell of a gamey casserole greeted her. Relief !

Well, I'm not a huge fan of game because I find it too rich, so I decided to investigate how to make butter chicken, a dish that I have fond memories of eating at the only Indian restaurant in Brest when we lived in Brittany. I had a look at numerous recipes online to get a feel for the dish and was shocked at the calorie content for most of them - one used 1 cup of butter and 3 cups of double cream and weighed in at 900 calories per portion (without even counting the rice !). I went for a much lighter version which has a similar taste to the Butter Chicken we ate in the restaurant but uses barely any butter (so it's probably not that authentic !)

Low-Calorie Butter Chicken

ingredients :

leftover roast chicken or 3 chicken thighs
2tbsp butter
2 onions
1 clove of garlic
5 cardamom pods
1/2tsp salt
2tsp garam masala
1tsp ginger
1tsp cumin
1tsp smoked paprika
1tsp garlic pepper
a good glug of passata (or tinned tomatoes)
1 large pot of Greek yogurt

If you want to make a real, authentic butter chicken, you should use raw chicken breast and leave it to marinate in yogurt and spices for a few hours before you start. You could use leftovers from the roast though or cook some chicken thighs separately and spoon over the sauce, as I did for the kids because they're not keen on curry.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Gently cook the garlic and onions, along with the whole cardamom pods, for 10 minutes until they go translucent.

Toss in the salt and spices.

Keep cooking for 5 minutes, stirring to mix the spices into the melted butter.

Add a good glug of passata. Authentic recipes tell you to cook fresh tomatoes in a pan then press through a sieve to remove the skin and pips so this was a shortcut. You could use tinned tomatoes if you don't mind a chunky sauce. (Butter chicken usually has a smooth, lump-free sauce.)

Add a pot of Greek yogurt.

Give it all a good stir to get the authentic orange colour. Taste the sauce and add extra spices if you think it needs an extra kick.

For the kids' version, I served the chicken and rice with a drizzle of sauce on top for those who wanted it.

For the grown-ups, I removed the meat from the bones, chopped it into large chunks and added it to the sauce.

Give it all a good mix and serve over rice with a cheeky naan bread on the side.

*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***

Linking up with the #readcookeat challenge at Chez Maximka.


  1. This looks lovely, I am glad I am not the only one miles behind with recipes!

    1. I've been working through loads but I keep bookmarking more ! lol

  2. Wouldn't it be fab to have a book-and-cook group for you, Alison and me too. Very nice chicken recipe.