Saturday, February 6, 2010

Butter chicken

For the curious, my mother had total shoulder replacement surgery at the end of January, so I've been at the hospital, or at her place, or rushing here and there not really cooking, and with little time to blog. Having the use only of one arm (for six weeks in her case) is a handicap in all sorts of ways that only really hit home when you're absolutely faced with them (how to do your hair, fold clothes, have a shower, cut your food, open the jewel case of a DVD for heaven's sake). Anyway, all's well, and I'm back, with a recipe to make up for my absence.

Here's another dish I never tasted as an omni, though people of so many different culinary likes rave about it that I thought I'd have a go at veganizing it. Having done that, my advice to my future self would be to relax: it's good, but not magical, also easier than I imagined it would be. I thought Soy Curls would work well in this recipe, and they do, but you would also have good success with tofu or chickpeas, and if you used chickpeas you could skip the whole marinade process and just go straight to the sauce and I bet it would be just as good, and certainly less fattening.

Here are a few helpful links: a video, on a site called Wicked How-To's which has the added bonus of instructions on such useful projects as How to Make a Glowing Ball of Deadly Plasma in Your Microwave and How to Make a Hot Outfit out of an Old Shirt; plus the recipe I adapted mine from.

My version is fairly fiery, which is how I like things, but you'll want to use your own judgment on the amount of chili you put into yours.

Butter chicken (Murgh Makhani)
Serves 2

1 cup dry Soy Curls, reconstituted in warm water for approximately 20 minutes
1 tbsp soy yogurt (I used Bryanna's tofu yogurt)
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 tsp ginger, chopped
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp sugar

3/4 cup diced canned tomatoes
2 tbsp Earth Balance
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp chopped ginger
1 tsp minced green chilies
1 tbsp cashew or almond butter
1 tbsp tofu yogurt
salt, to taste

Garnish – all or any of:
1 tbsp Earth Balance
more tofu yogurt
finely chopped cilantro

In a blender, puree all the ingredients for the marinade into a paste. Drain the Soy Curls and squeeze out the excess water. Stir the marinade into the drained, squeezed Soy Curls in a bowl and let the mixture sit for up to a couple of hours.

When you're ready to cook:

Heat 1 tbsp Earth Balance on medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan and put in the Soy Curls along with the marinade. Stir fry for about 20 minutes or so until the Soy Curls have dried out a bit and are beginning to turn golden. Set aside.

Now make the sauce:

Heat the remaining 1 tbsp Earth Balance in a saucepan and add the red chili powder, coriander, cumin, black pepper, garam masala, and ginger, and fry for a few seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar, and salt and cook uncovered on medium for about 7 minutes until the puree thickens. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree this mixture into a fairly smooth paste. Pour it back into the saucepan, stir in the tofu yogurt and the cashew or almond butter, reduce the heat to low, and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the Soy Curls and green chilies to the simmering sauce and taste for salt. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes more or till the curry is heated through.

Just before serving pour more melted EB over the curry (if you can handle it; I admit, I couldn't). Garnish with a swirl of tofu yogurt and/or finely chopped cilantro.

Served here with koki, a whole wheat roti with hot fresh green chilis and chopped onions mixed in, as well as lightly stir fried broccoli with Indian spices.

This is a portrait of my cat Cheeta commissioned by me from my talented, temporarily one-armed artist mother...and yes, it's her left arm in the sling, so she can still paint!

Finally, if you've read this far, Andrea over at Andrea's Easy Vegan Cooking has tagged me with what used to be called a meme (as she points out) and is now called an award. Well, cool, thanks, Andrea! The idea of the Honest Scrap Award is for the tagged blogger to say 10 honest things about him/herself, and then to tag 7 other bloggers in turn.

So if anyone's interested, here are 10 random, though true, things about me, in no particular order:

1. I don't own a car, television set, or cell phone, but am an iTunes ho—movies, TV, music, and especially, these days, iTunes U.

2. Although I've been vegan for more than ten years I've never tried tempeh. I recently bought a packet and it is in my refrigerator, and I'm scared of it.

3. My MBTI type is INTP. It's a rare type; there are proportionately about as many of us in the general population as schizophrenics or sociopaths, though my impression is that the ratio may be higher in the blogosphere.

4. My favourite type of book—and since I read constantly and love reading even more than cooking I mean the true home of my heart—is academic essays written between about 1860 and 1960. Right now I'm reading F. M. Cornford and W. K. C. Guthrie on the Presocratics.

5. I haven't had a cold for six or seven years. I credit this of course to my extremely healthy diet.

6. I take a Vitamin B-100 stress tab twice a day and it gives me a little high. Or maybe that's just how normal people without B-absorption issues feel all the time.

7. I know the first 250 lines of Paradise Lost by heart.

8. I'm a ferocious grocery store snob, and pronounce harsh judgments in my mind on other people's Twinkies and pre-fab food.

9. My cat Cheeta is named after a literary character. No one has ever guessed which book; they all just figure I can't spell. If you know, leave a comment and I'll tag you with this meme because we'll have something really amazingly wonderful in common and I'll want to know more about you.

10. I'm shy. Too shy to dare pass this on, so I haven't given myself the little award icon, but I had fun reading Andrea's 10 things and some of the others on the Internet and thought I'd play half the game anyway…


  1. Welcome back...I hope your mom is making a swift recovery...beautiful portrait of Cheeta...

    Enjoyed reading the interesting insights about you. I'm a no cell phone/no TV person too...I do have a car, which was my first ever acquired at the tender age of 42...but that's another story.

    Thanks for the recipe too.

  2. Best wishes to your mom for a swift and full recovery. And thanks for playing along with the award; I enjoyed reading your honest facts. I'm shy, too and it took a lot of effort for me to pass this award along - I usually don't. But I genuinely enjoy reading the blogs I picked, and decided it would be okay to let their writers know.

  3. I came across your blog by accident looking for something else in Edmonton... but then I read your little riddle about your cat and thought I might be able to solve it! I hope your cat is named after Cheeta in Titus Alone by Peake....and if not, you should read it. :)

  4. Jennifer, you are right, and thank you for playing! I have read all the Titus books, several times in fact, and for years they were my favorite fiction. My Cheeta is a lot like Peake's--tiny, imperious, manipulative, and altogether gorgeous.