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Chicken Mecca Lecca Hi Mecca Hiney Ho
In the weeks leading up to childbirth, I went on a cooking spree. I was possibly afraid of never cooking again, being a working mom of two, or maybe I was just really hungry, but I meticulously planned meals and obsessed over what the next one would be. There were a lot of requirements of these meals. They had to be comfort food, and they also had to be easy to prepare since I didn't have much stamina for standing around on the tile floor in my kitchen.
One of the things I made was butter chicken, also known as chicken makhani, because it is simple yet a little bit luxurious. Also, my husband loves Indian food, and if I was never going to be able to cook for him again post-baby, I better make a few things just for him before.
This can be made as spicy or mild as you like by just adjusting the spices a little. I made mine fairly mild to accommodate my 3-year-old, and my husband just dosed his up with a bunch of sriracha, which is probably blasphemy but we don't care.
Because I was interested in leftovers, I made a lot.
1 bag chicken tenderloins (3 pounds)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup plain yogurt
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup milk or half and half
1 serrano pepper
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
1/2 white onion
3 large garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala (If you don't have this it's not the end of the world — it will still taste good)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Optional: 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt and pepper
Basmati or jasmine rice
Cut the chicken into large bite sized pieces. Marinate it in a mixture of the yogurt, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper for as long as you have — I only did about 30 minutes. Longer is probably better.
Meanwhile, begin the sauce. In a food processor, give a few good pulses to the ginger, onion and garlic cloves. Transfer the mixture to a large skillet (preferably one that has a lid) that has been heated with three tablespoons of butter (until melted) over medium high heat. Saute for a few minutes to soften everything. Add in the diced and seeded serrano pepper at this point. Then add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Simmer for a few minutes. Next, add in the chicken/yogurt mixture and simmer with the lid on for about fifteen minutes until it's cooked through. Then remove the lid, add the milk, and let the mixture reduce. If you feel like it needs to be thicker, make a slurry of 1/4 cup milk and the tablespoon of cornstarch and stir through as the dish comes to a low boil.
Serve over hot rice.
You can add peas to this, or sprinkle on some fresh cilantro or green onions at the end. It's easy to add more cayenne to this or whatever heat source you like. This is probably not a very authentic version, but it's easy to do at home, and we think it tastes pretty delicious, regardless. It's a nice departure from the usual meat and potatoes fare that commonly graces our table.