Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

Here comes my fourth recipe under “My Julie & Julia Project” for this year. For those who don’t know, I have started this project under which I will be posting 100 recipes from my kitchen by the end of the year 2019. This is the Recipe #4. Here is the link to “My Julie & Julia Project” post:

Julie & Julia – Starting my journey

This recipe has its roots in Delhi, the capital of India. North India is known for it’s lip-smacking food all over the world. Butter chicken, chicken tikka, dal makhani, sarson da saag, makki di roti, chhole, bhature, naan, are among the very few names in the extremely big list of its dishes. My apologies for leaving out some names which might be close to my reader’s hearts.

It might sound funny to see that I am apologizing to my readers here, but being a Punjabi, I know how much “food” means to some of us. LOL!! As soon as we are born, we are loaded with dishes topped with ghee (clarified butter). Also, milk and curd are out diet’s staples. Along with vegetables, pulses and grains are also an important part of the daily diet.

I have grown up with fond memories of this special dish that I am sharing with you all today. When I was little, I still remember that the celebrations in our family were never complete without the Oh-So-Special Butter Chicken. Loaded with fats, the taste of this dish would never go wrong.

I am constantly finding ways to be creative with this dish, thinking about how we can use leftover butter chicken in a different way, other than pairing it up with the usual naan and rice.

DSC02734 (2)

But, trust me, there is no such thing as “Leftover Butter Chicken”. The creamy gravy paired with the succulent chicken pieces is never left for more experimentation. This time also, the complete dish was knocked off in no time with naan and rice. I’ll be probably preparing this dish again in a few days with the experiment I have in my mind.

The main winner in this dish is its rich and creamy sauce, which is prepared with few basic ingredients from the kitchen, which form the basis of many Indian gravies. Those are ginger, garlic, green chilies, onion and tomato. These are used to prepare a sauce which is flavored with some spices, and then loaded with the fats (butter and cream) which make the gravy what it is, thick, creamy and delicious. The final result is a rich, velvety blend of melt in mouth flavors.

DSC02726 (2)

There is a version of the recipe which can be prepared by marinating the boneless chicken breast pieces. Chicken thigh pieces can also be used, but mostly it is everyone’s personal preference. I prefer to use the breast pieces for this recipe. The marination is prepared with yogurt, ginger garlic paste and other spices. Chicken pieces are coated with the marinade, and kept aside for few hours, or sometimes, even overnight. But I generally prefer to prepare the version without the chicken marination. Marination definitely imparts additional flavor to the chicken pieces, but this version also works well. It is quicker to prepare, and no less than the marination version. Also, some people prefer to use Ghee (Clarified Butter) to saute onions etc, but I have used Avocado Oil in this recipe. Please feel free to use ghee in place of oil if you want.

So, without wasting more time, let’s jump straight to the recipe. Happy cooking!!

Butter Chicken Recipe

  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print
Butter Chicken…

Ingredients

  • Boneless skinless chicken breast (chopped into bite-sized pieces) ~ 500 grams
  • Onions (cut roughly into big pieces) ~ 2-3 (medium)
  • Tomatoes (cut roughly into big pieces) ~ 4-5 (medium)
  • Ginger (cut roughly into one inch pieces) – 1 tbsp
  • Garlic ~ 5-6 big cloves
  • Green chilies ~ 2-3 (as per spice preference)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Butter chicken masala (I used MDH brand) – 1 tbsp
  • Ground cumin – 1 tsp
  • Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Ground black pepper – 1/4 tsp
  • Asafoetida powder (Hing) – 1/4 tsp
  • Coriander Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Crushed Mint – 1/4 tsp
  • Dried fenugreek leaves (Kasuri methi) – 1 tsp
  • Cooking oil (I used Avocado oil) – 1 1/2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp
  • Jaggery powder – 1 tsp (Can be replaced with sugar)
  • Heavy cream – 1 cup
  • Butter – 1 tbsp
  • Cardamom seeds (crushed) – From 2 cardamom pods
  • Coriander/Cilantro leaves (for garnish) – 1/4 cup
  • Water ~ 1 cup

Directions

  1. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil in a non-stick pan or skillet. Add chopped ginger, garlic, green chilies in the oil. Also add onions and saute them on medium flame till they turn golden brown. Switch off the flame and let the mixture cool for sometime.
  2. Meanwhile, add the chopped tomatoes to the blender.
  3. Also add the onion mixture prepared in step 1 to the blender along with the tomatoes.
  4. Blend the ingredients to a smooth paste. The base of makhani gravy is ready.
  5. In the same non-stick pan/skillet, heat 1/2 tsp oil, add asafoetida powder and then add the blended mixture.
  6. Cook the mixture for around 5 minutes, and add the dry spices (salt, turmeric powder, butter chicken masala, ground cumin, red chili powder, ground black pepper and coriander powder.
  7. Simmer the mixture on low-medium heat for around 10-15 minutes or till oil starts to separate from the mixture.
  8. Add the chicken pieces to the mixture and saute for around 2-3 minutes.
  9. Add water and cover the pan. Simmer the mixture for around 15-20 minutes on medium heat till the chicken is completely cooked through.
  10. Once the chicken is cooked, remove the lid, reduce the heat to low, and add butter, cream, jaggery powder, crushed mint, crushed cardamom seeds and dried fenugreek leaves
  11. Adjust the salt and cook for around 2-3 minutes more. Switch off the flame.
  12. Garnish the creamy butter chicken with chopped coriander/cilantro leaves, and serve hot with naan or basmati rice.

Method (Step-by-step with pictures)

  • Heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil in a non-stick pan or skillet. Add chopped ginger, garlic, green chilies in the oil. Also add onions and saute them on medium flame till they turn golden brown. Switch off the flame and let the mixture cool for sometime.
  • Meanwhile, add the chopped tomatoes to the blender.
  • Also add the onion mixture prepared in step 1 to the blender along with the tomatoes.
  • Blend the ingredients to a smooth paste. The base of makhani gravy is ready.
  • In the same non-stick pan/skillet, heat 1/2 tsp oil, add asafoetida powder and then add the blended mixture.
  • Cook the mixture for around 5 minutes, and add the dry spices (salt, turmeric powder, butter chicken masala, ground cumin, red chili powder, ground black pepper and coriander powder.
  • Simmer the mixture on low-medium heat for around 10-15 minutes or till oil starts to separate from the mixture.
  • Add the chicken pieces to the mixture and saute for around 2-3 minutes.
  • Add water and cover the pan. Simmer the mixture for around 15-20 minutes on medium heat till the chicken is completely cooked through.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, remove the lid, reduce the heat to low, and add butter, cream, jaggery powder, crushed mint, crushed cardamom seeds and dried fenugreek leaves. Adjust the salt and cook for around 2-3 minutes more. Switch off the flame.
  • Garnish the creamy butter chicken with chopped coriander/cilantro leaves, and serve hot with naan or basmati rice!!

Whole Wheat Macadamia Nuts Chocolate Chip Cookies

Presenting my third recipe under “My Julie & Julia Project” for this year. For those who don’t know, I have started this project under which I will be posting 100 recipes from my kitchen by the end of the year 2019. This is the Recipe #3. Here is the link to “My Julie & Julia Project” post:

Julie & Julia – Starting my journey

We are really fond of having cookies/biscotti/rusk, something to snack on, to go along with our tea during our morning and evening tea time. I have baked chocolate, oats, almond cookies in the past, but baking with this nut, macadamia, was my first time.

DSC02544

Macadamia nuts are also called Hawaii Nuts, but these are actually native to Australia. These nuts are sweet and full of flavor, but most importantly, they are the powerhouse of nutrition.

DSC02550

The health benefits of these nuts are numerous. These nuts are a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which help in lowering the bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol levels in blood, which are linked to decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Macadamia nuts provide a good amount of energy, dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. All in all, these nuts are packed with lots of health benefits.

I have been trying to reduce the use of all purpose flour from my baking experiments, and have been using whole wheat flour through my recipes. Though I occasionally love to use all purpose flour for baking breads, as I love the texture of the bread if prepared with all purpose flour. This recipe calls for using whole wheat flour in the macadamia cookies. I was a little skeptical at first, but the taste and texture with whole wheat is a winner as well, just like with all purpose flour.

I have not chopped the macadamia nuts, and have used it as I got from the bag, but if you plan to bake smaller cookies, you can chop them to as little a size you want. Even the chocolate chips I used are big in size. Well, I loved baking the cookies bigger, with two tablespoons full of batter for each cookie. So, the bigger nuts and chips worked for me.

DSC02533

I baked the cookies in two batches, and got around 23 cookies in all, thanks to the size of each cookie. Do make smaller ones, as per your preference, you might get double the number of cookies that I got.

Also, cranberries pair well with macadamia nuts. I will try using them in my next batch of macadamia cookies that I bake. Those who are fond of cranberries, do try adding some dried cranberries to the recipe. You can use half-n-half of chocolate chips and cranberries, or maybe even leave the chocolate chips in the recipe and just use cranberries, as per your preference.

DSC02611

The cookies were baked to perfection, just how I like them. Crusty outside, and soft and chewy on the inside. Without further taking more time, I will take you guys straight to the recipe. Happy baking!!

Whole Wheat Macadamia Nuts Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print
Whole Wheat Macadamia Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies…

Ingredients

  • Butter (unsalted) – 1 cup
  • Jaggery powder – 1 1/4 cup (1 cup + 1/4 cup)
  • Eggs – 2
  • Vanilla Essence – 1 tsp
  • Whole wheat flour – 2 cups
  • Baking soda – 1 tsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Macadamia Nuts – 1 cup
  • Chocolate Chips – 3/4 cup
  • Milk – 2 tbsp (optional)

Directions

  1. (Optional) Chop the macadamia nuts and chocolate chips to small pieces. I did not do this step, as I was baking bigger cookies, and used both macadamia nuts and chocolate chips as I got them from the bag.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the butter and the jaggery powder till the jaggery powder is completely blended with the butter. I prefer to not use hand mixer for most of my baking recipes, as I believe that beating the mixture with a whisk is better than using mixer (I have over-mixed the batter many a times previously using a mixer, so I avoid using it).
  4. Add in the eggs to this mixture and keep stirring till all the ingredients are uniformly mixed.
  5. Now add vanilla essence to the above mixture. The wet ingredients mixture is now ready.
  6. For the dry ingredients, mix in whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt to the wet mixture.
  7. Finally add the macadamia nuts and chocolate chips and give it a stir. I have also added milk in this step since I felt the mixture was too dry. Milk is just added to adjust the consistency.
  8. Line a baking sheet with ungreased cookie sheet. Drop the batter on to the cookie sheet spoon by spoon and flatten using the fingers, keeping 1-2 inches space between each cookie. Since I have baked bigger cookies, I used two tablespoons of batter for each cookie (I baked the entire batter in two batches).
  9. Once the oven is preheated, bake the cookies in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool for 2 minutes.
  11. The macadamia nut cookies are now ready to be stored in an air-tight container or enjoy them just out of the oven!!

Method (Step-by-step with pictures)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Meanwhile, mix the butter and the jaggery powder till the jaggery powder is completely blended with the butter.
  • Add in the eggs to this mixture and keep stirring till all the ingredients are uniformly mixed.
  • Now add vanilla essence to the above mixture. The wet ingredients mixture is now ready.
  • For the dry ingredients, mix in whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt to the wet mixture. Finally add the macadamia nuts and chocolate chips to the mixture and give it a stir. I have also added milk in this step since I felt the mixture was too dry.
  • Line a baking sheet with ungreased cookie sheet. Drop the batter on to the cookie sheet spoon by spoon and flatten using the fingers, keeping 1-2 inches space between each cookie. Since I have baked bigger cookies, I used two tablespoons of batter for each cookie (I baked the entire batter in two batches).
  • Once the oven is preheated, bake the cookies in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool for 2 minutes.

The macadamia nut cookies are now ready to be stored in an air-tight container or enjoy them just out of the oven!!

Eggless Whole Wheat Pistachio Cranberry Cake – No oil, no butter bake

Here comes my second recipe under “My Julie & Julia Project” for this year. For those who don’t know, I have started this project under which I will be posting 100 recipes from my kitchen by the end of the year 2019. This is the Recipe #2. Here is the link to “My Julie & Julia Project” post:

Julie & Julia – Starting my journey

Pistachios, as we all know, have numerous health benefits. They are loaded with antioxidants. These nuts help in boosting immunity and also help in managing blood pressure levels, among many other benefits.

I am using Roasted and Salted Pistachios here in this recipe, so that’s the reason I have skipped salt completely in the ingredients. If you are using unsalted pistachios, please add 1/4th teaspoon of salt to the ingredients list.

DSC02495

The no oil, no butter and no egg has been my favorite part in this. Avocado, bananas and milk help in maintaining the softness and moisture in the cake. And using jaggery powder in the recipe is a win-win too, for those who are looking for refined sugar substitutes.

DSC02508

The cake can be sliced and served as a tea time snack and will also be great for adding to children’s lunchbox. I love the hint of cranberries in each bite, but those are completely optional. Those who want to savor the pistachio cake in its purest form, can skip the cranberries completely. I am using dried cranberries from Trader Joe’s.

Do try the recipe and please pour in your suggestions on what other dried berries or nuts will go with the pistachio cake. I would love to give it a try. Happy baking everyone!!

Eggless Whole Wheat Pistachio Cranberry Cake Recipe

  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print
Eggless Whole Wheat Pistachio Cranberry Cake..

Ingredients

  • Powdered Jaggery – 3/4 cup
  • Avocado (mashed) – 1/2 cup
  • Bananas – 3 (medium)
  • Orange zest – 1 tbsp
  • Pistachios – 3/4 cup
  • Milk – 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla Essence – 1/4 tsp
  • Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp
  • Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
  • Cranberries (optional) – 4 tbsp

Directions

  1. Grind the pistachios in a blender or food processor to a fine flour consistency and keep the ground mixture aside to be used later.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the mashed avocado and the jaggery powder till the jaggery powder is completely blended with the avocado.
  4. Add in the mashed bananas to this mixture and keep stirring till all the ingredients are uniformly mixed.
  5. The pistachio flour can now be added to the above mixture, along with the orange zest. Combine to form a smooth blend.
  6. Also add milk and vanilla essence to this. The wet ingredients mixture is now ready.
  7. For the dry ingredients, mix in whole wheat flour, baking powder and baking soda to the wet mixture.
  8. Finally add the dried cranberries and give it a stir.
  9. Pour the mixture to a lined or greased cake pan dusted with flour.
  10. Once the oven is preheated, bake the cake mix in the oven for 40 minutes, or till the cake is done (when the inserted toothpick comes out clean).
  11. Remove the cake from the oven, and allow it to cool before serving.
  12. The guilt-free pistachio cake is ready to be relished!!

Method (Step-by-step with pictures)

  • Grind the pistachios in a blender or food processor to a fine flour consistency.
  • Keep the ground mixture aside to be used later.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Meanwhile, mix the mashed avocado and the jaggery powder till the jaggery powder is completely blended with the avocado.
  • Add in the mashed bananas to this mixture and keep stirring till all the ingredients are uniformly mixed.
  • The pistachio flour can now be added to the above mixture, along with the orange zest. Combine to form a smooth blend.
  • Also add milk and vanilla essence to this. The wet ingredients mixture is now ready.
  • For the dry ingredients, mix in whole wheat flour, baking powder and baking soda to the wet mixture.
  • Finally add the dried cranberries and give it a stir
  • Pour the mixture to a lined or greased cake pan dusted with flour. Once the oven is preheated, bake the cake mix in the oven for 40 minutes, or till the cake is done (when the inserted toothpick comes out clean)
  • Remove the cake from the oven, and allow it to cool before serving

Relish the yummy pistachio cake with your family and friends!!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Cake – Healthy, Moist & Yummy

This is the first recipe I am posting under “My Julie & Julia Project” for this year. For those who don’t know, I have started this project under which I will be posting 100 recipes from my kitchen by the end of the year 2019. This is the Recipe #1. I have chosen this recipe to be the first one, as it is one of my daughter’s favorite and so, is quite close to my heart.

I have tried this recipe a couple of times, and it has never failed. The best part, of course, is that there is no all purpose flour or oil or butter involved (as healthy as it can be). And I am using cane sugar in this recipe, which is definitely a healthier option compared to the white sugar. Also, even though there is no oil or butter in it, still the cake is amazingly moist because of bananas and yogurt.

I am a big fan of Trader Joe’s products. And this time, I decided to use their Cocoa Powder (I mostly use Hershey’s Cocoa Powder and find it quite good). Loved every bit of their Cocoa powder, the chocolatey flavor imparted to the cake by Trader Joe’s Cocoa powder wins hands down (though chocolate chips also added their bit to the chocolicious flavor). Which other cocoa powder brands have you all used? Let me know in the comments.

DSC02165

My daughter has a sweet tooth, and every now n then, I am looking for healthy alternatives to the store bought sweet treats. So, this recipe is a keeper for those who are okay with loads of chocolate but want to go easy on butter, oil or all-purpose flour.

Myra loved preparing the cake with me for this blog post. You might see her hand holding the ingredients in some pictures. It’s so amazing to see how we can engage kids at such a young age, and making this whole baking time a play date with them. Sometimes, they can come up with ideas that are completely mind blowing.

DSC02178

It’s a proud moment when we see them working in the kitchen wholeheartedly. They love stirring and mixing in the things, making a cute little mess in the kitchen, but it’s worth it. Sometimes I feel this is the correct time when we can instill basic cooking skills in our kids (boys and girls both). This is the skill that any person would require in his/her life.

Well, I will not go more into the “who will work in the kitchen in future” mode, as it’s a different topic altogether. But, I would certainly say that we can making baking time fun for our kids. They learn responsibility, precision, team-work and of course, the basic kitchen skills as well.

All in all, this recipe is a hit at my home. And I hope you guys love it too. Let’s take you all straight to the recipe now.

DSC02241

Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Cake Recipe

  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print
Super moist Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Cake pieces..

Ingredients

  • Bananas – 3
  • Cane sugar – 3/4 cup
  • Vanilla Essence – 1 tsp
  • Yogurt – 1/2 cup
  • Egg – 1
  • Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
  • Baking soda – 1 tsp
  • Cocoa powder – 1/2 cup
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Chocolate chips – 3/4 cup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
  2. Meanwhile, mash the bananas in a bowl and add cane sugar. Mix them together to a smooth blend.
  3. Add vanilla essence, yogurt and egg to the banana-sugar mixture and mix them all together. Wet ingredients mixture is ready.
  4. For the dry ingredients, add whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder to the wet ingredients mixture.
  5. Start mixing all the ingredients, the mixture will be little thick by this time.
  6. Once the dry and wet ingredients form a smooth and uniform blend, add in the chocolate chips.
  7. Pour the mixture to a greased cake pan dusted with flour.
  8. Once the oven is preheated, bake the cake mix in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or till the cake is done (when the inserted toothpick comes out clean).
  9. Remove the cake from the oven, and allow it to cool before serving.
  10. The guilt-free cake is ready to be relished!!

Method (Step-by-step with pictures)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Meanwhile, mash the bananas in a bowl and add cane sugar. Mix them together to a smooth blend.
  • Add vanilla essence, yogurt and egg to the banana-sugar mixture and mix them all together. Wet ingredients mixture is ready.
  • For the dry ingredients, add whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder to the wet ingredients mixture. Start mixing all the ingredients, the mixture will be little thick by this time. Once the dry and wet ingredients form a smooth and uniform blend, add in the chocolate chips.
  • Pour the mixture to a greased cake pan dusted with flour.
  • Once the oven is preheated, bake the cake mix in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or till the cake is done (when the inserted toothpick comes out clean). Remove the cake from the oven, and allow it to cool before serving.

Relish the yummy moist cake with your family and friends!!

The famous Indian curry paste

This is the most versatile curry paste used across many Indian dishes. The smell of onion, ginger and garlic is hard to resist at almost every other Indian household. The sprinkling of dried masala powder along with turmeric lends a fresh aromatic flavor to any Indian dish!!

But then, preparing this takes time. Sometimes, when we are having time crunch, because of office work, deadlines or if we have small kids at home who just demand our time and attention, then it becomes difficult to prepare everything from scratch. So we look for other options like instant noodles or ordering something from a restaurant. While sometimes this is doable, but not too frequently.

That time this pre-prepared curry paste comes to your rescue. Prepare a batch over the weekend as per your requirement and use it across the week two-three times as per the quantity.

Most of the Indian ladies would find this post too simple to share, but those who have never tried it and are looking for such alternatives should definitely give it a go.

 

******       INGREDIENTS       ******

Onions (Big) – 2 1/2 (otherwise take 4-5 if using medium sized ones)

Garlic cloves – 7-8

Ginger – 2 inch piece

Green chilies – 3 (or as per spice level)

Tomatoes – 4-5 (medium sized)

Oil – 2 tbsp

Salt – To taste

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp

Garam masala powder – 1 tbsp

Turmeric – 1 tsp

 

******       METHOD       ******

Start by adding oil to a skillet. Add green chilies, roughly chopped ginger and garlic. Sauté till they turn light brown. Add in the onions, and sauté for 5-10 minutes, till the onions start turning light brown. Add salt, turmeric powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder (you can prepare at home or use the readymade garam masala). Sauté for 5-7 more minutes. Then add chopped tomatoes to the mixture. Sauté for 5-10 minutes more. Turn off the stove.

Let me mixture cool down. Once cooled, make a fine paste of this mixture in a blender/mixer. Sauté this curry paste in the same skillet for 15-20 minutes or till the oil separates from the gravy. Once oil separates, turn off the stove, cool the curry paste and store it in the refrigerator and use through the week, this can suffice 2-3 gravies/curries.

You can now use this paste to prepare chickpeas, black chana and kidney beans  as well. This can also be used as a base for watery curry (matar paneer, aaloo matar etc) or cream based gravy (paneer makhani, butter chicken etc).

So go ahead ladies and give it a try. Trust me, with work pressure and also kids at home, this will definitely turn out to be a savior!! Till then.

Adios Amigos