Indian




Ghee

Melt butter in a pan over low heat. When the butter has completely melted, continue to heat it over a low heat. When the melted butter starts boiling, it will begin to foam and sputter at first as the water boils off. Continue boiling the butter, uncovered. As the butter melts, it will slowly separate into three layers: The thin top layer of foam is the butter's water boiling off. The middle layer contains the clarified butter. The bottom layer contains the milk solids.

The liquid on top will slowly become more transparent. When the clarified butter has a golden transparent color, there is very little foam left on the surface, and the solids have settled on the bottom, the clarified butter is ready. The cooking time is approximately 30 minutes.

To create ghee, continue to slowly cook the clarified butter over low heat, watching carefully and stirring occasionally, until solids on the bottom of the pan turn light brown and the liquid deepens to golden and turns translucent and fragrant with a rich popcorn-like aroma. Immediately remove from the heat. Important - If left on the heat too long, the residue will burn and the ghee will have a burnt flavor.

Skim off the foam after removing from heat. Let the butter cool awhile to let more of the solids settle, and then pour or spoon out the ghee, leaving the remain milk solids in the pan. Or pour the hot melted butter through a fine-mesh skimmer to filter out the foam and solids that have settled.

Ghee can be stored, covered, without refrigeration in a glass or earthen jar for about six months. At room temperature, ghee becomes semi-sold. With refrigeration, ghee hardens and can be stored, covered, for about one year. Do not let any water get into the ghee jar. A drop of water can easily promote bacteria and spoil the ghee. Ghee doesn't burn as easily as ordinary butter.


Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)

Mix the chicken, lime juice, salt and red chili powder in a large bowl. Cover and allow to marinate for 1 hour. Heat a flat pan on medium heat and gently roast, stirring frequently the cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, bay leaves and almonds till they darken slightly. Cool and add the cardamom seeds. Then grind into a coarse powder in a clean, dry coffee grinder.

Mix the powdered spices above, yoghurt, coriander, cumin, and turmeric powders together and add them to the chicken. Allow to marinate for another hour. Heat the oil in a deep pan on medium heat. When hot, add the onions. Fry until a pale golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry for a minute.

Add only the chicken from the chicken-spice mix and fry till sealed (chicken will turn opaque and the flesh will go from pink to whitish in color). Now add the tomato paste, chicken stock, kasuri methi and remaining part of the yogurt-spice mix to the chicken. Cook till the chicken is tender and the gravy is reduced to half its original volume.

Melt the butter in another small pan and then pour it over the chicken. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with Naan and Kaali Daal.

For an authentic and traditional cooked-over-the-coals flavor: When the Butter Chicken is cooked, make a small bowl shape with aluminum foil and place it on top of the curry ('floating' on it). Heat a briquette of charcoal on an open flame till red hot and gently put the charcoal in to the aluminum foil bowl. Cover the dish immediately. Remove the cover just before serving, discard the foil bowl and charcoal and serve. The curry will be infused with a smoky flavor.


Black lentils (Kaali Daal)

Soak the lentils in a bowl of water, overnight. Boil the soaked lentils with 3 cups of water, 1 sliced onion, green chillies, asafetida and salt to taste till they are very tender.

In a separate pan, heat the oil and fry the second onion till soft. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute. Add the tomatoes, coriander, cumin and red chili powders and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the boiled lentils and enough water to make a thick gravy-like consistency and mix well. Simmer for 10 minutes. Pour in the whisked cream and mix well. Turn off the fire. In another small pan, heat the ghee and when hot add the cumin seeds and cook till they stop spluttering. Pour this into the lentils (it will all sizzle) and mix well.

Kaali Daal, also known as Ma Ki Daal (mom's lentils) or Daal Makkhani is often served with a vegetable side dish, naan (tandoor baked flatbread), and butter chicken.