Recipe: Indian Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice (Low Fat)

I’m not sure why I decided to make butter chicken, but one day it popped into my head and I was set on the idea. Butter chicken is pretty much one of the only Indian foods I’ve tried, mostly because back in the day I wasn’t really into spice. I’m getting better at trying spicier things nowadays and I do like that my taste for hot foods seems to be evolving. One of my big issues with butter chicken was the fat content. While I loved the flavour of the thick orange sauce, I hated trying to avoid the little oil slicks of butter that floated on top.

With the following recipe, I’ve pieced together a few recipes and have come up with one I really enjoyed.

The boy (Dan), after finishing his second helping, told me that while he doesn’t really like butter chicken, this one was awesome. I asked him why he wouldn’t have mentioned not liking it, as I planned an entire day around making this and had been talking about making butter chicken for the last four days.

His response was “I don’t like the greasiness of butter chicken, but this one was so good.”

Excellent, I feel the same. My work here is done.
Now, here’s the recipe.

Low Fat Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice

Chicken Pieces

  • 8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs cut into 3-4″ pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2″ fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped (or grated)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt (fat free)
  • 1/2 tsp tandoori masala
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

1 – Place the chicken in a bowl with the garlic, ginger, salt, chilli powder and lemon juice. Mix, cover with cling film and chill for 30 mins.

1st marinade

2 – While the chicken sits for 30 minutes, mix together the yogurt, tandoori masala, turmeric and cumin and then add to the chicken, making sure that each piece is well coated with the mixture. Cover again and chill for 3-4 hours.

2 marinade

marinade and chicken

3 – Preheat the oven to 350F. Put the marinated chicken pieces on a grill rack and bake for 10 mins. Turn them over and for another 10-12 mins until just cooked through. Set aside.

Saffron Rice

  • 1 1/2 pinches of saffron
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion minced
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 3/4 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/4 tsp salt

1 – Grind half saffron in a spice mortar, add the remaining threads of saffron, do not grind these.

2 – Add 1/4 cup of boiling water to the mortar and let threads steep for five minutes. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can simply steep the saffron threads in  boiling water, but I’d let it sit for a little longer, maybe 15-20 minutes.)

saffron

3 – In a heavy saucepan, heat oil over a medium heat and add onions. Sauté for about ten minutes or until onions begin to caramelize.

4 – Add the rice to the pot and cook for a minute longer, mixing the rice with the onions.

5 – Pour the yellow saffron liquid evenly across the top of the rice, making sure to scrape any saffron that sticks to the mortar into the pot.

6 – Add broth (or water and extra pinch of salt) to the pot. Bring to a boil.

7 – Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Let the rice cook for about 20 minutes, or until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender.

8 – Fluff rice before serving.

Butter Chicken Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger root
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 green cardamom pod slightly crushed
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can (28 oz/798 mL) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup light sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon dried cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter

1 – In a large skillet or sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook slowly, stirring often, until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.

2 – Combine gingerroot, chili powder, turmeric, ground coriander, cinnamon and cumin. (Smash herbs with a mortar and pestle if not already ground.) Add to skillet and cook 1 more minute.

3 – Add drained tomatoes, broth, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

4 – Transfer half the sauce to a blender and purée until smooth. (Be careful not to burn yourself. I, on the other hand, did not follow that advice. I also used a stick blender, which worked just fine, except when I burned myself.😛 ) Put puréed sauce back in pot with remaining sauce. Mix well and return to heat.

5 – Stir in sour cream, cilantro and almond butter.

sauce

6 – Add cut-up chicken and mix. Cook just until chicken is hot.

7 – Serve over saffron rice or regular rice.

finished

While the process is a tad long and may seem a little daunting, it’s really not that bad. The chicken can be cooked ahead of time or marinated in advance and cooked the day of. I found this sauce to be deep in flavour, but lacking in the heat I was expecting. For those who prefer spicy food, I’d recommend bumping up the chili powder in the sauce or adding some fresh chilli peppers to increase the burn.

I want to rate this nine out of ten forks because of the depth of flavour and low-fat-ness, but it was lacking in the heat I expected so I’ll  give it eight out of ten.

Eight Forks

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