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For me, the famous butter chicken dish that originated in Delhi in 1947 truly is the heart of India. This much desired dish was created by three restaurateurs who conceived this dish accidentally when adding tandoori chicken leftovers to a tomato gravy rich with butter and cream.
A myriad of ingredients to warm the soul, to name a few; garam masala, cumin seeds, garlic, ginger, cashew nuts, fresh cream and most importantly for this dish – butter. Lot’s and lot’s of butter.
Traditionally this dish is made with chicken, but since I don’t eat meat, I decided to create a vegan version that not only is made with soy kebab, but is also a one pot where the rice is cooked in the same saucepan. I like the idea of not having to cook rice on the side, but instead all in one pot.
The soy I’m using in this recipe is called soy kebab. I suppose you could use any meat alternative here as there are many on the market. The main thing is to be sure whatever you are choosing that it will not melt away once boiling in this dreamy curry sauce. Any meat alternative desired that will keep form when boiled can be used.
I’ve also tried to add as few ingredients as possible as this version of butter chicken is as Nigella Lawson calls it – Curry in a hurry. I could have used copious amounts of spices, but decided to keep it as simple as possible for all you busy bees out there. You can make this dish as lavish with spices as you desire. I have added in garam masala, salt, turmeric, and pepper, but you could take this dish much further if you wish and add chilli powder, cumin seeds and more! Also, traditionally this dish contains bounteous amounts of butter but I thought to keep it at 2 tbsp. In India, in its last stage of cooking, a generous amount of butter is added to finish off the dish! It is called BUTTER chicken after all, so feel free to add as much butter as you desire.
The other crucial ingredient in this recipe is the cream! Instead of dairy, I decided to use organic canned coconut cream that is 50% cream and 50% water. The combination of coconut cream, butter, tomato sauce, and cashew cream is just exquisite.
Shall we get in the kitchen?
150g dehydrated soy kebab
1/4 cup cashews soaked
2 tbsp vegan butter
4 cloves garlic
1 large chunk ginger
2 red hot chilies
3 tbsp curry leaves dried or fresh
3 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp salt
2 cups tomato sauce
300 ml water plus 400 ml
1 can 400 ml coconut milk (I used biona organic 50% coconut cream and 50% water)
To a bowl of hot water you will place your dehydrated soy kebabs. If you are not using dehydrated soy kebabs and your meat alternative doesn’t need to by hydrated then you can skip this step. Set that aside. To another bowl add in the raw cashew nuts and add enough hot water to cover the nuts. Both soy kebab and nuts will need to be soaked for roughly 20 minutes. While they are soaking we can proceed to the next step.
To a large saucepan add in the butter and let it melt. Proceed with garlic, ginger, chili’s, and curry leaves. Let that cook for 2-3 minutes and now add the chopped onions , garam masala, turmeric, pepper, salt. Cook for seven minutes. Once the onions are translucent and cooked add in the tomato sauce and 300 ml of water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until bubbly.
Transfer mixture to a blender or use a hand blender to blend the paste until smooth and creamy. Once it is smooth you can place it back into the saucepan and now we are ready to add our meat replacement. If you are using the soy kebabs, discard the water and place all the kebabs in the pot. Cook for 5 minutes with the lid on, and the can of coconut cream, and 400 ml of water. Now it’s time to add the basmati rice. Give it a good mix and cover. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Once cooked have a taste and add in any spices you like and even a couple more tbsps of butter. Give it a good mix and cover with lid. Let the curry rest for a few minutes before plating. In the meantime you can chop up some coriander leaves or parsley to sprinkle on top. Serve with naan bread!