Cooking | Butter Chicken & Punjabi Chole … The Chakle India Cookbook {a book review}

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”
John Ruskin

Butter Chicken {Pan fried version}It’s a delicious book on Indian cooking. An almost impish face smiles back at you from the cover, the earnest cook, with a twinkle in his eyes. It’s Aditya Bal the Indian model turned chef stirring up some magic. ‘The Chakhle India‘ Cookbook is based on the most popular food show Indian TV. From the book I offer a quintessential Indian curry – Butter Chicken {Pan fried version}, and a chickpea dish – Punjabi Chole.The Chakle India CookbookI looked at the book with initial skepticism as I don’t follow too many TV cookery shows. Took it along when I went to pick up the older teen from detention! {Yes that happens too as she didn’t submit a project in time. She had completed it but forgot to submit it!}! I love the lessons school can teach that we can’t! Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookGot there 30 minutes early armed with the book; it was the most fruitful 30 minutes I’ve spent of late. It was an instant connect! He seemed warm, real, ‘talked’ to with you, a peoples person, had a wonderful rapport and was entertaining. Explains why he runs the most popular food show!Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookFood is good when it is real, when stories are woven around it, when you know where they are coming from and what influences the style … a face behind the name makes it even better! Not so long ago we met Shamita, Ms India Universe, at the Four Seasons Wine Tasting event and marveled at how grounded she was. More recently we got ‘up close and personal‘ with one of India’s top chefs Saby at the Olive Bar & Kitchenanother fabulous person!Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India Cookbook Haven’t met Aditya but already feel like I know him a li’l bit. He talks fondly of growing up in Kashmir {I love Kashmir and it is on my list of places to revisit but with the hub}. I have beautiful memories of Srinagar which we visited as kids; Aditya stirred those up beautifully.Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookThe author lived an idyllic life in Srinagar, the culinary side reflected by Wazwan, potlucks, Sunday roasts reminiscent of his maternal grandmothers cooking; then had an unfortunate displacement from the state he loved due to civil unrest. He modeled for a few years and eventually found his calling in food. The book is packed with recipes from different corners of India, reflected in the title Chakle India {literally translates into Taste India}…Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookI love the simple explanations, the ‘deglazing’ of the pan now and then, asking you to check the balance of flavours, taking in the magic of Indian spices. Other “foodies” like Chantal Royer do a great job at analyzing some of the traditional Indian spices from her travels.  For all you meat lovers there, there is plenty of ‘meaty goodness’ that he tempts you to try. I made butter chicken from his book when I got home.
Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookWhy Butter Chicken? Because it is one of India’s most popular dishes, the kids love it, I haven’t made a ‘butter’ laden butter chicken in ages, it was the weekend, there was no electricity and the recipe was a pan fried version, it uses fresh tomatoes which are in abundance … more simply, because I wanted to!Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookIt’s a good, homey, comforting recipe … a nice balance of flavours, not like the original butter chicken as that uses oven baked tandoori chicken, but finger licking good nevertheless. The son asked for it 2 days in a row! I make a low fat version often, yet to be blogged, but for now this version is for you!Chola Masala from The Chakle India CookbookThere are plenty of vegetarian recipes too. I reached for the book a second time as I had chickpeas soaking for a salad for the dieting diva. Made the Punjabi Cholas and they were fabulous! Loved the astoefitida {hing} in them, and also loved that it didn’t use commercial chana masala. I served them with boiled rice but they would taste great with flatbread too, or just as a snack.Chola Masala from The Chakle India CookbookNice to see a book with seemingly more emphasis on the meaty dishes, yet one that offers a liberal dose of vegetarian main course and snacks. The dessert section is SWEET! I have my eye on a mango kheer which I find rather intriguing and haven’t heard of before! Chola Masala from The Chakle India CookbookPick up the book and you’ll find it easy to cook from it. The ingredients are simple pantry staples and the methods aren’t cumbersome. Some recipes do appear long with many ingredients and instructions … a little complicated but really aren’t. The only downside, if ever so slightly there is one, is the pictures. I like my food photographs to show the dish from a short distance to get a better idea of the dish. Most frames are shot really close up, though there are plenty of them. Chola Masala from The Chakle India CookbookThe book is a delicious take on homey, comforting and make-able Indian cuisine, food from the heart, flavours that speak for themselves and the energy to make you want to cook! It’s a good addition to my ever growing collection of cookbooks.

Thank you for Anushree for sending me a copy to review. I really enjoyed the book!

[print_this]Recipe: Butter Chicken {pan fried version} your picture

Summary: A flavoursome home style butter chicken bursting with the goodness of fresh tomatoes. A recipe in which the marinated chicken pan fried as against traditionally grilled. Recipe from The Chakle India Cookbook by Aditya Bal

Ingredients:

  • 500gm boneless chicken {cut into tikka sized pieces}
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Few drops refined oil
  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • The Marinade
  • 3 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/2 onion, pureed
  • 4tbsp whisked curd
  • 1tsp coriander powder
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1tsp hot red chili powder
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Rich Tomato Gravy
  • 7-8 ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled, puréed
  • Few drops of refined oil
  • 50g butter
  • 1/2″ piece ginger chopped fine
  • 2 green chilies, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1sp coriander powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes
  • 4-5 tsp full cream {I used low fat 2 tsp}
  • Garnish
  • 2-3tsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • Knob of butter

Method:

  1. The Marinade
  2. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Put the chicken into a large glass or plastic bowl. Add the marinade and mix it well into the chicken with your hands. Cover and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours
  3. While the chicken is marinating, prepare the rich tomato gravy.
  4. Rich Tomato Gravy
  5. Heat a medium size sauté pan and add the oil and butter. Keep the pan on medium heat till the butter is foaming. The oil prevents the butter from burning as it as a much higher smoking point.
  6. Once the foam subsides somewhat, add the chopped ginger and green chilies and sauté for a couple of minutes on medium heat.
  7. Add the spice powders and sauté, till they are aromatic and richly coloured.
  8. Now add the fresh tomato purée and stir to mix with the spices.
  9. Simmer on low heat, till the tomato gravy is thick and has a rich and deep red colour and the oil rises to the top.
  10. Season well with salt and add the sugar. Stir through and simmer for a few minutes longer. Turn of the heat and set the gravy aside to mature.
  11. To cook the chicken
  12. Remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. season with salt and mix well.
  13. Heat a heavy non stick frying pan and add a few drops of refined oil and the butter
  14. Once the butter is hot, add a few chicken pieces at a time and sear them on high heat, till the develop a rich caramelized crust and are slightly charred around the edges. remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining pieces.
  15. Now, return all the seared pieces to pan and fry them all together. ass the sugar, lime juice and any remaining marinate. continue to fry the chicken, till it is almost fully cooked and turns a lovely, charred, golden brown.
  16. Add the thick spicy tomato gravy to the chicken and de-glaze the pan to lift up those intense pan deposits.
  17. Cook on medium heat, stirring well to make sure the chicken is fully submerged and coated in the delicious gravy
  18. Simmer uncovered to reduce the gravy
  19. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add the thick cream. stir through to combine and cook for about five minutes to blend well
  20. Check for a balance of flavours: the gravy should be rich and buttery, bursting with the spices and concentrated tomatoes; the chicken, perfectly tender and packed with the rich flavours of the creamy tomato gravy.
  21.  Add a knob of butter and enjoy this home-style butter chicken with naan or tandoori roti.

Recipe: Chola Masala {Spicy Chickpeas}
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Summary: A real Punjabi classic which is eaten all over North India and is cooked with endless variation. This is a snack which can double up as a meal too. {I used just chickpeas but the recipe has gram too} Recipe from The Chakle India Cookbook by Aditya Bal

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup whole Bengal gram or kala chana, soaked overnight {I didn’t use these so I increased the chickpeas}
  • Curry Base
  • 2 tsp refined oil {I used Leonardo olive oil from here}
  • 1″ cassia stick
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 2 brown cardamoms
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 onions chopped fine
  • 1/2″ ginger, chopped fine
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1tsp coriander powder
  • A pinch of asafoetida powder / hing {I used a big pinch}
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp butter {I used olive oil again}
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2-4 tsp chopped fresh coriander leaves

Method:

  1. Drain the soaked chickpeas and gram for any toxins, wash well and parboil in a pressure cooker with 3 cups water for 25-30 minutes {I use a pinch of baking soda too}. The chickpeas should hold shape but be soft enough to be mashed with a fork or between fingers.
  2. Transfer them to a bowl and mash them lightly with a fork, keeping half of them whole. {I tend to do this when I add the chickpeas to the curry. I also reserve any remaining liquid and use it to this the curry later}
  3. The Curry
  4. Heat the oil in a wok/kadhai and add the whole spices and bay leaf. Saute on medium heat till they crackle and release their aroma.
  5. When the whole spices are nutty and richly coloured, add the onions and  sauté for a few minutes, till they turn light golden brown.
  6. Stir in the ginger and garlic and  sauté till they are softened and lightly coloured.
  7. Sprinkle in the spice powders, salt and  sauté for a couple of minutes till they are aromatic and toasted. Add a few drops of water to deglaze the pan and lift up the spices stuck to the pan. Bhuno {roast} the masala 3-4 times with water, till the base is homogeneous and oil rises to the surface.
  8. Mix in the cooked chickpeas {and gram if using} and fry them in the masala base till they are well coated.
  9. Add the tomatoes and continue to fry on high heat till they begin to disintegrate. Sprinkle in the sugar and mix well to combine.
  10. Pour in enough water {I used the reserved liquid here} to come 1″ above the contents of the pan. Stir to combine, bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer gently for about an hour or more. {I have to confess I just popped everything back into the cooker and gave it a whistle within!}
  11. Cook until the starch glutenizes with the liquid, so they are soft and creamy in texture and the gravy thickens. Taste and adjust salt if required.
  12. Now add the butter and lime juice to lift the flavours, then sprinkle the coriander leaves and stir well.
  13. Check for balance of flavours: The cholas should be extremely soft and creamy but with a little bite to them ad should have the robust taste of whole spices. The dish should be thick and concentrated in flavour.
  14. Serve with hot roi, puri or bhatura and a salad.

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