Keith Coleman’s butter chicken

Serves: 6
Course: Dinner
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 1 head garlic
  • 4 small white onions
  • 1 thumb size piece ginger
  • 50g tomato paste (half a tube)
  • 20g (3 tablespoons) ground turmeric
  • 20g (3 tablespoons) dried fenugreek leaves
  • 20g (3 tablespoons) garam masala
  • 2 cans peeled plum tomatoes
  • 350ml water
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 300ml double cream
  • 100g salted butter
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • Fine sea salt for seasoning

1. Firstly, it’s not so much a curry as it is gravy. The aim is to create a smooth and silky sauce that coats and envelops anything added to it. Start with the onions, garlic, and fresh ginger. Peel them all and add to a food processor or blender with a little oil to help the blades catch.

2. Put this paste into a good heavy bottomed pot with a little extra oil and cook over medium/low heat until it has softened and started to caramelise. Add a good pinch of fine sea salt.

3. Next, add the tomato paste, ground turmeric, fenugreek leaves, and garam masala. You can make your own masala blend, or buy it as fresh as you can from your local Indian store.

4. At this stage the spices will have toasted nicely and the contents of the pot will look dry and begin to stick to the base. This is good. Turn the heat up to high and add the water, using a wooden spoon to scrape up all the caramelised loveliness forming on the bottom of the pot.

5. Put the cans of peeled tomatoes into a food processor and purée until smooth. You’re not going to blend the finished sauce so it’s best to smooth the tomatoes out now. Add to the pot with another good pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning and if you prefer a spicier curry, make adjustments now with ground chili.

6. Bring to the boil, place a lid on the pot and reduce the heat to allow the sauce gently blip away and thicken. Be careful if you’re tempted to stir as the sauce will splatter. This stage of the process should take about an hour; but at least 30 minutes if you’re pushed for time.

7. The goal is to cook this down until really thick and the oil has split from the sauce.

8. With the heat on low, add the double cream and salted butter into the sauce and stir well to emulsify (it should look like paint). Add the diced chicken. The secret to cooking the chicken here is to simmer it for maybe five minutes and then turn the heat off totally and put a lid on the pot.

9. As the curry rests for 20 minutes the chicken will slowly cook through. But do check that it is fully cooked. Always allow the curry to rest before serving.

10. Best enjoyed with some fresh coriander as a garnish and some steamed basmati rice and naan bread. And that’s it. Not much to it. If you can master this, you can master any curry.