Russian Zupfkuchen

Russian ZupfkuchenWotchers!

Bit of a quirky recipe this week, since Russian Zupfkuchen is actually a German dessert and practically unknown in Russia. Many thanks to Florian Fischer (@MaddingKraut on Twitter) my official German culinary attaché, for his help and advice.

OK, if I was pressed, I’d say it was a little like a baked cheesecake, but before any cheesecake-haters run screaming for the hills, let me assure you that it’s textures and flavours are so much lighter and fresher than a traditional, say, New York Cheesecake. Don’t get me wrong, a New York style cheesecake can be an absolute delight, but no-one can deny that it’s incredibly rich and filling and a little on the heavy side.

This Russian Zupfkuchen has a crisp, intensely chocolatey biscuit-like crumb and topping, surrounding a light, almost melt-in-the-mouth, creamy filling, delicately flavoured with vanilla. The real star of the piece, however, is Quark, an acid-set soft cheese, very common in many north-European and Slavic countries.

It is available in supermarkets in the UK, at around £1.00 for 250g and is naturally fat-free. After mixing with eggs, sugar, flavouring and a little cream, during baking it puffs up like a soufflé, gently settling back as it cools. Once chilled, the result is light, creamy without being cloying, and a wonderful contrast between the softly-set filling and the richness of the pastry.

Which brings me to the single slight downside to this recipe – the pastry. It tastes incredible – SO crisp, SO friable and SO richly flavoured  – and is a bit of a devil to work with. Once made, you need to chill it for several hours, rather than the more usual 30 minutes, and it softens very quickly, so lining the baking tin can become a rather drawn-out affair if the day is warm, as it needs to keep going back into the fridge/freezer to firm up almost every few minutes.

Which is why, gentle reader, the picture at the top of this post aint lookin’ too purdy. And I did try my best, several times. I suspect my mistake was trying to make the pastry too thin that was my downfall. If you fancy an easier alternative, try the chocolate pastry from The Midnight Meringue instead.

Russian Zupfkuchen

For the pastry:

200g plain flour
50g cornflour
120g icing sugar
170g butter
1 large egg
50g cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
2 tsp baking powder

For the filling:

140g icing sugar
3 large eggs
seeds from 1 vanilla pod, or vanilla extract to taste
500g quark
2tbs cornflour
1 pinch salt
175ml double cream
60g unsalted butter, melted

  •  Put all of the ingredients for the pastry into a food processor and blitz.
  • The mixture will eventually come together into a very soft paste.
  • Tip out, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 3 hours.
  • Remove 1/4 of the dough and put it in the freezer to chill
  • Grease and line a 24cm spring-form cake tin with parchment.
  • Roll out the remaining chilled pastry to between 5-10mm and use it to line the cake tin.
  • Chill the lined tin in the fridge while the filling is made.
  • Preheat the oven to 160°C, 140°C Fan.
  • Whisk the eggs and the icing sugar until pale and frothy.
  • Stir in the quark, vanilla, salt and cornflour.
  • Whisk the double cream until thickened and stir though, together with the melted and cooled butter.
  • When everything is smoothly mixed, pour into the prepared baking tin. It will rise during baking, so don’t fill the pastry case too full.
  • Take the remaining pastry from the freezer and grate it, coarsely, over the surface of the filling.
  • Bake for 1 hour. Turn the tin around after 30 minutes to help bake evenly.
  • Cool completely. Cover with foil, then chill in the fridge.
  • Remove from the tin and cut into portions when chilled.

Roasted Cauliflower Quiche

roasted cauliflower quiche

Wotchers!

The recipe this week is actually one I made on Week 2 of The Great British Bake Off, and is in response to a request from a blog reader. I thought the recipe was already online somewhere, but it seems not.

With a 2-hour time limit, the brief was for ” a large quiche with a savoury flavoured pastry” and, as a Signature Bake, the other criteria were for it to be:

  • something that showcases your personality, creative flair and baking ability
  • a favourite tried and tested home recipe
  • well presented and original

Consequently, I made a point of making my version of this seemingly simple combination of cauliflower, eggs, cheese and pastry a little treasure trove of unexpected details and flavours, not all of which were picked up on by the judges, but for posterity’s sake, I’m going to list them here:

  • Suet pastry flavoured with caraway and cheese. Yes, suet can be used for regular pastry as well as the boiled/steamed variety. Made with commercially prepared suet, it is much quicker and easier to prepare than other types of pastry: everything is mixed in a bowl and stirred together with cold water until a paste is formed – rather like making a stiff scone mixture. Fresh breadcrumbs and baking powder add lightness and the caraway seeds pair well with the cheese. The result is very light and crisp. Obviously the suet makes it non-vegetarian, but vegetable suet is available, if preferred.
  • Cauliflower: roasted in the oven to give touches of deep, rich caramel to the naturally sweet and delicate flavour.
  • Onions: slowly caramelised in oil to intensify both the flavour and sweetness.
  • Mustard: brushed over the blind-baked pastry to bring a little zing amongst the richness of the cheese and eggs.
  • Cheese: A mixture of grated Gruyère and Parmesan – Gruyère for meltiness (What? That is SO a word!) and nuttiness, Parmesan for a big wallop of cheesey flavour.
  • Crème fraîche: Selecting the low-fat version is both less rich than the traditional double cream, and the slight tang also helps cut through the richness of the cheese to give the cooked quiche a much fresher-tasting bite.

Soggy Bottom Rescue

Sometimes, despite all your best precautions (see below), the pastry does not stand up well to the deluge of wet filling. Coupled with the cooler oven used to just ‘set’ the quiche, whilst the edges of your tart might be crisp and golden, the underside might turn out to be soft and doughy. There IS a remedy, and one which I should have employed in the Bake Off, but I recall that at the time, the remaining cooking time being a bit tight, so I didn’t and paid the price in the form of Mary Berry’s ‘disappointed’ face.

If you find yourself in such a situation, don’t despair, do the following:

  • Allow your quiche to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
  • Lift the rack up and check the underside.
  • If it’s not cooked to your satisfaction, slide the quiche onto a piece of baking parchment.
  • Put a large, heavy frying pan over a medium low heat.
  • Lift the quiche using the baking parchment and put the whole thing, parchment included, into the frying pan.
  • Allow the heat to bake the bottom of the quiche until crisp and golden. You will need to lift the tart out in order to check – don’t try lifting the edge whilst in the pan as you run the risk of the pastry breaking. If not done, simply place it back into the pan for a few more minutes.
  • The pastry will not stick to the pan, because of the parchment. The low heat will also keep it from scorching.
  • When crisped, simply transfer the quiche back to the cooling rack using the parchment, and then slide the parchment from underneath and allow to cool as normal.

Voilà quiche!

Roasted Cauliflower Quiche

Pastry
100g suet
200g self-raising flour
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tsp caraway seeds
50g Parmesan

iced water to mix

beaten egg for glazing

Filling
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large onions
1-2 tablespoons mustard – Dijon, wholegrain, whatever you like best
3 large eggs
200ml low fat crème fraiche
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Whole nutmeg for grating
100g grated Gruyère cheese
75g grated Parmesan cheese

  • Heat 1½ tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over low heat.
  • Chop onions and add to pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Cook until onion is caramelised and a deep golden brown, stirring occasionally (about 40 minutes).
  • Put a baking sheet on the bottom shelf of the oven; preheat to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Toss cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil in large bowl. Spread on large rimmed baking sheet, spacing apart. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Roast 15 minutes; Turn florets over. Continue roasting until tender, about 15 minutes longer. Set aside
  • Line a large quiche or tart tin with baking parchment.
  • Mix together all the pastry ingredients.
  • Stir in enough water to make a firm but not sticky dough. Roll out and line the quiche tin.
  • Line the inside with parchment and fill with beans or rice.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the parchment and filling and bake for a further 5 minutes.
  • Brush the inside of the pastry with beaten egg and bake for a final 3-4 minutes. The egg glaze will form a  barrier between the filling and the pastry and help keep the pastry from becoming sodden.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C, 140°C Fan. Put a baking sheet into the oven to get hot.
  • Brush the inside of the pastry with the mustard. If you’re a fan, you could even use English mustard, but it is very fiery indeed, especially if you’re not expecting it. Equally ‘surprising’ would be horseradish or wasabi – but do warn people before letting them take a bite!
  • Sprinkle over a layer of caramelised onions.
  • Arrange the roasted cauliflower florets evenly.
  • Whisk together the rest of the ingredients and pour into the pastry case. Jiggle the tin a little to make sure the liquid gets into all the nooks and crannies. You can also – carefully – drop the tin onto the worktop from a height of 5-6cm to get rid of any air pockets.
  • Put the tin onto the heated baking sheet and bake until tart is golden and almost set (still jiggly) in the middle, about 25-30 minutes.
  • Transfer to rack; cool.

Retro Tarts

Three sweet tarts

Dark Butterscotch (back left), Toffee (back right) and Gypsy Tart (front)

Wotchers!

Despite the above picture, this post is really all about pastry. Sweet, shortcrust pastry.

Some time ago *waves hand vaguely* I introduced you to an all-butter pastry which I had adapted from an old Victorian commercial baker’s book. The crust for my Cheese and Potato Pies has about 25% cornflour, which makes it fantastically silky-smooth to handle and which also bakes beautifully crisp and dry.

The recipe this week is for a sweet version, also from the same baking handbook: slightly different flour/butter proportions and enriched with the yolk of an egg, it is both more crisp and more delicate than the savoury version and a perfect foil for the three sweet fillings I’ve lined up for you, because I thought it rather a cheek to give you just a pastry recipe this week and let you get on with it. Plus I couldn’t get a lump of pastry to look tempting all by itself, so here we are.

The fillings are very much variations on a theme of dark muscovado sugar and I’m really pleased with the three differing flavours that resulted. The Butterscotch is really dark and very much a ‘grown-up’ flavour – you could even add a slosh of real scotch to ramp it up to dinner-party level. The Toffee is very child-friendly in flavour – almost mild – and a real comfort food. The Gypsy Tart is a 2-ingredient classic that harks back to memories of school dinners. There are many recipes for the filling ‘out there’, most of which generally have too high a proportion of sugar and too much milk, resulting in gigantic pies of tooth-aching sweetness. This version makes for a light and frothy filling with just the right balance of flavour and sweetness. It is the only one of the three that needs any further cooking once poured into the pre-baked pastry shell, but at just 20 minutes in a cool oven, these too are ready in a flash.

I’ve left all three unadorned, but you could add embellishment if you like – unsweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche rather than more sweetness in a chantilly or buttercream, is my recommendation. A smattering of chocolate sprinkles for the toffee tart, perhaps? Your call.

slices

Dark Butterscotch (left), Toffee (middle), Gypsy Tart (right)

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

This quantity makes enough for one large tart or 4-8 individual tarts.

170g plain flour
56g cornflour
125g unsalted butter
15g caster sugar
1 large yolk

ice water to mix

  •  Put the flours, butter, sugar and yolk into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • With the machine running, gradually add the cold water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together in a ball.
  • Tip the mixture onto a floured surface, knead smooth then wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  • Roll out thinly and line your greased tart tin. If making smaller tarts, cut the pastry into 4 and roll out individually.
  • Leave the excess pastry hanging over the side of the tin/s and chill in the fridge for another 30 minutes. The pastry will shrink as it chills and then you can trim the excess. If you trim it first, the pastry will shrink down inside your tart cases, probably unevenly, and your pastry cases won’t have a nice finish.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180ºC Fan.
  • Prick the bottom of the tart/s with a fork to prevent blistering, line with baking parchment and fill with beans/rice/beads.
  • Bake for 10 minutes for small tarts, 12-14 minutes for a large tart.
  • Remove the parchment and beans and bake for a further 3 minutes for small tarts, 5-8 minutes for a large tart, until fully baked.
  • Allow to cool.

Butterscotch filling

170g unsalted butter
170g dark muscovado sugar
35g plain flour
100ml milk

  • Melt the butter and sugar in a pan, stirring.
  • Make a paste of the flour with a little of the milk, then stir in the rest of the milk.
  • Pour this milk mixture into the butter mixture and whisk vigorously.
  • Continue whisking until the mixture comes to the boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring, to ‘cook out’ the taste of the flour. The mixture will thicken.
  • Remove from the heat. Add a little extra milk – or scotch! – if it seems too thick, then pour into the bake pastry case/s and allow to cool.

Toffee filling

Warm the golden syrup before measuring it out, it will be much easier to pour accurately.

100g butter
40g plain flour
250ml milk
60g dark muscovado sugar
100g golden syrup

chocolate sprinkles (optional)

  • Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour. Whisk until frothed and starting to darken.
  • Warm the milk and sugar together and pour into the butter mixture, whisking briskly.
  • Keep stirring over the heat until the mixture thickens, then remove from the heat and stir in the golden syrup.
  • If the mixture seems too thick, add a little extra milk to loosen it.
  • When you’re happy with the consistency, pour into the pastry shells and set aside to cool.
  • Scatter over the chocolate sprinkles, if using, before serving.

Gypsy Tart filling

1 x 170ml tin evaporated milk
120g dark muscovado sugar

  • Chill the tin of evaporated milk in the fridge overnight. Do not skip this step. It will not whip up to its frothy perfection unless the milk is thoroughly chilled.
  • Get rid of all the lumps in the sugar by pounding it in a pestle and mortar. Work a little at a time rather than trying to get the whole batch lump-free in one go. It’ll give you something to do while the milk chills.
  • Put the sugar and the chilled milk into a bowl and whisk for AT LEAST ten minutes. You want the sugar to dissolve and the milk to increase in volume and become light and frothy, like half-whipped double cream. You can test whether the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the mixture between finger and thumb – it should not feel grainy at all. If you have a stand mixer and a balloon whisk attachment, this might take a little less time, but not much.
  • Preheat the oven to 120°C – NO FAN
  • Pour your mousse-like mixture into your pre-baked pastry case/s. It will not rise much in baking, so you can fill them pretty full.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the filling has set: no wobble when gently shaken.
  • Set aside to cool.

Pulled Beef

Pulled Beef

Wotchers!

Back when I started this blog, one of the first posts I made was for Pulled Pork. Not saying I’m a trendsetter, but it would seem that the rest of the UK has now caught up and Pulled Pork is everywhere: in sandwiches, on burgers, in supermarket ready meals… This last would no doubt have the American devotees of barbecue staggering around clutching their chests at the heresy and I’m not really going to improve things by this post, because once again, I’m employing a slow-cooker rather than the traditional aromatically wood-fired barbecue.

I hadn’t actually planned this as a post at all, but in the true spirit of That’ll Do Cookery™ what I ended up throwing together was so simple and so delicious, I thought you might all enjoy. I recently bagged a couple of beef brisket joints at a bargain price, not remembering that the freezer was full, so when I got home, I had to do something with them immediately, and this is the result.

There’s a little bit of work once the  meat is cooked if, like me, you prefer your pulled beef very lean, but it is so fall-apart tender, this is merely the work of moments. The 8 hour cooking time makes this a delicious meal to come home to, if you switch it on in the morning. Alternatively, cook it overnight and shred the meat in the morning, and portion it into freezer bags for fast meal solutions at short notice.

Serve with Noodles and Rice and either regular Coleslaw or (my current favourite) Apple and Fennel Coleslaw. It also makes a deliciously messy Manwich if served in a large bun.

Barbecue Pulled Beef

Beef Brisket that will fit in your slow cooker – I used 2 x 1.5kg joints
300ml Barbecue Sauce
1 beef stock cube – I like the jelly-style ones
500ml tomato passata or chopped tomatoes, pureed
water

  • Using a pastry brush, generously ‘paint’ your brisket all over with the barbecue sauce. Put the meat into the slow cooker.
  • Add any remaining barbecue sauce, the stock cube and the pureed tomatoes.
  • Add sufficient water to just cover the meat.
  • Cook on ‘Low’ for 8 hours.
  • Lift the joint(s) from the sauce and allow to cool a little. Shred the meat, either by hand or with two forks, removing all fat and connective tissue.
  • [Optional] Chill the sauce and skim off the solidified fat.
  • When ready to serve, warm the sauce and taste. Adjust the flavour to your own personal taste, if necessary, with pepper, salt, more barbecue sauce, Worcester sauce, hot sauce, etc.
  • Return the meat to the sauce and heat thoroughly before serving.

Oasis Rolls

Date Rolls

Wotchers!

For me, the appeal of these pretty biscuits lies in the stark contrast between the dry, crumbly pastry and the sweet, sticky filling. It’s like finding a rich oasis of flavour after a dry and dusty trek through the desert!

OK, so I might be pushing the metaphor a bit – it’s a bite into a biscuit, not Lawrence of Arabia rescuing Gasim from the Empty Quarter, but work with me…..

The pastry contains semolina, which gives it it’s characteristic crumble, and the filling – well, that’s pretty much up to you. I particularly like the combination of date and lemon, but you could equally go with prunes, figs or indeed any ‘sticky’ dried fruit. Mince in something complimentary, such as candied orange or lemon peel, or even chopped nuts for a bit of crunch.  As long as it holds together, and you like the flavour, anything is possible.

Another characteristic of the pastry is that it will hold a pattern during baking, and I’ve taken the opportunity to play around with my set of fondant crimpers to mark the pastry with a range of designs. Since the rolls only have to be baked long enough to cook the pastry, and no more, the contrast between the paleness of the pastry and the dark interior is one I find very aesthetically pleasing. Of course, you don’t HAVE to use crimpers – anything that will make a mark can be used: toothpicks, mini cutters, jagging wheel, etc. or indeed nothing at all.

The price for all this delight is that the pastry is very delicate, both before and after baking. You will need to be very gentle handling it whilst marking any pattern, and I strongly recommend moving the warm biscuits onto the cooling rack with a thin slice. They are a little more robust once cool, but it is still possible to squish the pattern if you’re a little heavy-handed. Let’s be careful out there!

One final point – to bake the rolls without colouring the pastry, you will need to use a non-fan oven.

Oasis Rolls

For the filling
250g chopped dates
zest and juice of 1 lemon

For the pastry
280g plain flour
50g semolina
1tsp baking powder
40g caster sugar
100 unsalted butter
60ml vegetable oil
1tsp orange blossom water or vanilla extract

  • Put the dates, zest and juice into a food processor and blitz to a paste.
  • Form the paste into long rolls about 2cm in diameter. Cover with cling film and chill until required. Rinse and dry the food processor bowl.
  • Put the pastry ingredients into the clean food processor bowl and blitz until the mixture comes together as a soft dough.
  • Tip out and knead smooth, then wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  • Once the pastry has chilled, roll out between two sheets of cling film, to a thickness of about 1cm.
  • Remove the top layer of cling film and lay a roll of the filling onto the pastry.
  • Use the bottom sheet of cling film to lift the pastry around and over the filling, wrapping it like a sausage roll.
  • Trim off any excess pastry and make sure the roll is laying on the joining seam of the pastry. Trim the ends of the roll off neatly.
  • Repeat until all the filling has been wrapped in dough.
  • Cut your rolls into even lengths 8-10cm is a nice size both for making patterns on and for eating.
  • Mark each roll with patterns – optional – and lay carefully onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  • When all are finished, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge while the oven heats up.
  • Heat the oven to 180°C.
  • Bake the biscuits for 14-16 minutes, until the pastry is cooked but still pale.
  • Allow the biscuits to cool on the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Turkey Meatballs

Turkey Meatballs

Wotchers!

I love a cooking show (duh!) and I really liked The Taste, with Nigella, Bourdain and  Lefebvre, although it seems the powers that be on both sides of the Atlantic don’t share my enthusiasm, as neither the US program not the UK version is currently showing any sign of life. Ho hum.

For anyone unfamiliar with the premise, food was tasted blind, without prior knowledge of who had made it, beginning at audition level and continuing throughout the series. In addition, you only got to serve the judges a single spoon of your dish, so crafting this mouthful from an entire dish was a skill in itself.

ANYHOO…..

Had I ever auditioned, THIS, gentle readers, would have been my single-spoon audition offering.

Although this post is only for the meatballs, you can make the above meal by using previous blog posts to rustle up some Noodles and Rice and Barbecue Sauce.

This has been a very popular meal in our house for a number of years and I’m especially pleased with it as it tastes amazing whilst incorporating one of the dullest ingredients that could ever grace your shopping trolley – turkey mince. Which is CHEAP and LEAN and HEALTHY and so very, VERY dull by itself. Seriously, I nearly nodded off just typing that. However! Zing it up with some bacon, parsley and spring onions and it is a delicious surprise to all who’ve tried it. Literally. I mean, we’re talking almost cartoon-level double-takes after the first bite.

You don’t HAVE to serve it with the barbecue sauce – any spicy sauce will do – but it does marry very well with the other ingredients. Often I like to enjoy them without any sauce at all, just enjoying the mix of flavours. Similarly, don’t feel obliged to go with the noodles and rice – the meatballs make an awesome sandwich in a crusty baguette – ideal for a packed lunch because these meatballs taste almost as delicious cold as hot, as do the noodles and rice. If only there were ever enough left for sammiches…….

Turkey Meatballs

Makes about 40 small-ish meatballs.

5 rashers smoked back bacon
500g Turkey mince
4 spring onions – chopped
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs – about 2 slices of bread.
1 egg
1/2tsp coarse-ground black pepper
4 heaped tbs chopped, fresh parsley, or 2 heaped tbs dried parsley

125ml Barbecue Sauce (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 200ºC, 180ºC Fan.
  • Put the bacon rashers into a cold frying pan and cook over a low heat until crisp. No additional oil should be necessary as the bacon will give out its own as it cooks.
  • Dry the bacon on absorbent paper, then chop finely either by hand or in a food processor.
  • Add the chopped bacon to the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  • Use a tablespoon measure or small ice-cream scoop to form the mixture into balls the size of a walnut and arrange them on a baking sheet. NB To keep the meatballs from sticking without having to use extra oil, use a baking mat/sheet of parchment.
  • Bake in the oven for 12 minutes, until the meatballs are slightly browned.
  • Tip meatballs into a large frying pan and pour over the barbeque sauce. Toss gently over a low heat to warm the sauce through and glaze the meatballs.

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

Wotchers!

Here’s a delicious Deja Food recipe that we regularly enjoy in this house, whenever there is some Tandoori Chicken going spare. That in itself is quite a challenge, since both my husband and daughter love Tandoori Chicken with a passion, so I find myself making gargantuan quantities purely in order to have anything left with which to make Butter Chicken.

Invented at the Moti Mahal (Palace of Pearl), one of the oldest restaurants in Delhi, by Mr Kundan Lal Gujral, Butter Chicken, or Murgh Makhani to give it it’s proper name, was devised as a way of keeping Tandoori Chicken moist and flavourful from one day to the next. The dark, smokiness of the cooked chicken is enriched by the Makhani gravy of spices, ghee, tomatoes and cashews, especially if you can leave them marinading overnight. The recipe below is one that I’ve used for 5-6 years, tweaking slightly to reduce the fat content whilst still retaining the rich flavours of the dish.

I’m not going to tell you how to make Tandoori Chicken, because I’d only be repeating the most excellent words of Madhur Jaffrey. Her recipe appears in Indian Cookery, a well-thumbed copy of which is gradually falling apart on one of my many shelves of cook books, but it is also available online HERE. I’m glad she has stopped advocating the lurid food colouring – it always unnerved me somewhat to see incandescent pieces of chicken on the plate. To get a little more red into my chicken, I add a generous amount of sweet paprika – the Rajah brand here in the UK gives fiery colour without the fiery heat – but since it will ultimately be lovingly enveloped in sauce, I shouldn’t fret too much about this.

A couple of points on ingredients: I strongly recommend hunting out a tin of ghee, as its almost perfumed aroma greatly enhances the dish, and dried fenugreek leaves are a must for that authentic taste. Add hot spices if you like, but I prefer it without.

Butter Chicken

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger – peeled & chopped
6 fresh chillies, red or green – deseeded
6 cloves garlic – peeled
50g ghee or clarified butter
4 x 5cm cinnamon sticks
3 black cardamom pods (if not available, use 10 green cardamom pods in total)
6 green cardamom pods
1 tbs cloves
4 bay leaves
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes – pureed smooth
100 g raw cashew nuts
1-2 tbs honey
1-2 tbs tomato paste
paprika to taste (optional)
chilli powder to taste (optional)

2 tbs dried fenugreek leaves
50 g ghee or clarified butter
60 ml crème fraiche

  • Make a paste of the ginger, garlic and chillis by blitzing in a food processor with 4 tablespoons of water until well chopped.
  • Melt the ghee/butter in a large frying pan and add the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves and bay leaves. Cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add the ginger/garlic/chilli mix and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
  • Add the pureed tomatoes, stir thoroughly, then turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and pick out the whole spices or sieve the sauce to remove them. Discard the spices.
  • Pour the sauce into a blender and add the cashews, paprika, chilli powder (if using), honey and tomato paste. Puree until thickened and smooth (about 2 minutes). Stir the contents thoroughly and puree again for 30 seconds.
  • If you’re making this to freeze, then stop now. Pour the sauce into suitable containers (this will make about 900 ml of sauce – yes, we like this sauce a LOT – and having it in the freezer can bring a meal together in minutes), label and leave to cool before freezing. If you’re preparing ahead, add your sauce to your cooked/cold Tandoori Chicken, stir, cover, and chill overnight in the fridge, otherwise add the chicken and proceed as below.
  • To Serve
    • Heat gently in a suitably large pan.
    • Add the remaining ghee and the dried fenugreek and simmer for five minutes.
    • Stir in the crème fraiche just before serving and sprinkle  a few more fenugreek leaves as garnish

Serve with plain rice and naan breads (to mop up all that lovely sauce!)


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