Traditionally butter chicken is not considered as a healthy dinner option mainly because it consists of butter and cream. It is however one of the most loved Indian Punjabi dishes and is available on almost every North Indian restaurant menu. Butter chicken is one of my favourite dishes as well but one of my biggest issues with this dish is the heavy after meal feeling you get after you eat something as rich as the Indian butter chicken! Recipes like this always make people think that Indian food is unhealthy. In fact for many eating Indian food is considered as a guilty pleasure and far from a healthier dinner alternative. With my series of Indian recipes I really want to change this notion of thinking and make you realize that, yes butter chicken can be healthy! Hence I have come up with my version of the butter chicken or Murgh makani!
How to make healthy butter chicken?
This healthy Indian chicken curry recipe of mine is based on the ever popular Butter chicken but it has been re-worked to be made as a healthier and better for you version. This has been done by substituting two of its main ingredients cream and butter with something quite different. The cream has been replaced by a lovely cashew cream which ensures the great richness, flavour and velvety texture. Further in this recipe I am cooking chicken with coconut oil instead of the butter to ensure another nutrient and energy boost! Cooking with coconut oil has a great amount of benefits for your health. You can read more about its benefits in m my post on the benefits of cooking with coconut oil here.
Now before you run in the opposite direction screaming for mercy, let me tell that my recipe at no point compromises on taste or flavour. This is personally very important for me as I am very big on flavour. The best part is because of it being packed with good fats, it does not make you have that horrid after meal heavy feeling which usually happens when you eat rich Indian food.
The flavours are mild and mellow and not too spicy or greasy and the method quite simple. In this recipe I have used boneless chicken thighs. Chicken thighs have been one of my greatest discoveries! Take my word and give up buying chicken breast and choose chicken thighs! Not only is it cheaper (which is why I bought it the first time) it is packed with flavour and moisture. It does not dry out easily and ends up being very succulent and delicious!
This recipe is a mild, cholesterol free chicken curry recipe and really worth a try! It can also be made vegetarian by subbing the chicken with paneer cubes. I serve this with some whole meal pita bread for a convenient option. You can also have it with rotis, plain rice or if cooking for an occasion why not serve with my recipe for kale pulao?
Store cupboard tip # 3
- The unsung heroes in this dish are two gorgeous Indian spices that you must stock up on. One is green cardamom powder. It gives the Mughlai feel to this recipe. Make sure you buy and store these green pods. To make the powder you can just pop open the pod , discard the green skin and crush the black seeds into a powder. Use it fresh like this rather than buying the cardamom powder as it retains a fresher and more powerful flavour.
- The other spice is my favourite kasuri methi. Usually you get these in big packs but once opened they taste the best within the first four months and should not be kept longer. Crush these in your palm before sprinkling over your dish. It pairs very well with milk based Indian curries and brings out the restaurant flavour every home cook yearns for !
Healthy Tip for the day:
- Substitute fresh cream in your meals with cashew cream making it a cholesterol free option. I make it by blitzing 1 cup of skimmed milk with 1 tablespoon of cashew butter. You can use any type of milk and increase the amount of cashew butter to make it thicker. If you cannot get your hands on cashew butter then soak 1 tablespoon of cashews in water for an hour, drain and proceed to blitz with the milk. This may need more cashews to get thicker.
Now for the recipe…