Have you ever heard of “Butter Chicken”? If you haven’t it’s an Indian dish that is very popular among all Anglo-Saxons (ha! you will see why I say this later). It’s made with chicken, of course, that’s marinated in a variety of Indian spices and is then cooked in a tandoor (a clay oven), but can be cooked other ways. The sauce is made with… you got it, butter! There is also tomato paste, Indian spices, and cream (some sugar too). It’s served with rice, naan, and/or roti. I don’t think there is a way for this to taste bad, every time I had it it was delicious.
It’s funny, when my boyfriend and I were in New Zealand we really got into Indian food and of course Butter Chicken was a popular dish, according to the servers. When my bf’s parents came overseas to travel with us we went out for some great Indian food. His mom ordered the Butter Chicken. The server was a very nice Indian man who talked with us and gave us the low-down on Indian food; my bf’s dad is a social butterfly, so he got him talking 🙂 Anyways… the server told us that a lot of the food that they serve at their restaurants isn’t necessarily what they eat at home. For example: Butter Chicken. He said it is probably the most popular dish among the Kiwis (New Zealanders), but it’s so full of cream and butter… fat! and also sugar, that they normally don’t prefer it. They like the less popular dishes on their menus like the onion gravy (I remember him saying that one for some reason) and the less heavy dishes. He also said that they normally eat a healthier grain and not a lot of naan. I can’t remember the name of it, but he said it was baked or grilled and a lot healthier than what most Kiwis liked.
The whole time I kept thinking, “My bf’s Mom just ordered Butter Chicken… and you took her order like 5 minutes ago AND we ordered naan. Ha!”. It was really interesting though to hear this from our server… I never knew! Lucky me I’ve found an amazingly healthy Butter Chicken alternative: “Butter Chicken Pies”. I found it in the Healthy Food Guide (a New Zealand magazine) that I got from the local library in Auckland (where we stayed while studying abroad). I added more vegetables and made 4 servings. I guarantee you will LOVE this!
Serves 4, one pie per person. Total time: 45 minutes
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp grated ginger (or 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground)
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
4 tbsp tomato paste, divided
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp oil, olive or vegetable
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups vegetables of your choice, chopped how you want them… broccoli, carrot, zucchini, summer squash, peas, etc (I used 1 cup broccoli and 1/2 cup each of zucchini and carrots)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup fat free evaporated milk
10 sheets of phyllo dough, thawed
Salt to taste (kosher of course)
First things first, thaw that damned phyllo dough. I am NOT a fan of using this product. It’s finicky and a major pain in the ass. However, it usually turns out well. I must admit that instead of thawing it for 2 hours (I don’t have that kind of time… and I’m usually not that ahead of the game), I defrosted it in the microwave for a little while, making sure it didn’t get too warm blah blah blah. Just thaw it however you want and are used to; I personally think it doesn’t matter how you thaw it… it’s annoying to work with period.
Cut the chicken into small cubes and place in a bowl with the yogurt, spices, lemon juice, and 1 tbsp tomato paste. Mix well and marinate for 20 minutes in the refrigerator (or up to 8 hours).
In a frying pan heat oil and saute the onion and garlic until soft. Gradually add the marinated chicken to the pan, stirring frequently.
When all the chicken and marinade are in the pan add the remaining tomato paste, brown sugar, and vegetables.
Then gradually add the evaporated milk, stirring frequently. Do not let the mixture boil or it will split. But if it does it’ll just look grainy and the flavor won’t be affected.
*Feel free to test the sauce and add salt to your taste. I added a few pinches of kosher salt:)
Once the sauce is thick and creamy and the chicken is thoroughly cooked, remove the pan from the heat and assemble the pies.
Heat the oven to 400. Lay out 2 sheets of phyllo dough and spray the top with cooking spray. Add 1/4 of the butter chicken mixture, fold the sides in, and roll into a pie:
*The dough may kinda fall apart when you first start rolling it, but it’ll be okay once you finish and put it on the cookie sheet.
Spray the top with cooking spray and put onto a greased cookie sheet. Do the same with the rest. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and crispy!
I must admit.. this is one of my favorite dishes, hands down! You won’t believe how flavorful this is.. plus it’s hearty, fills me right up.
Calories: 304 Fat: 5g (saturated 1g) Fiber: 3g Protein: 24g Sodium: ~636mg
These pies, per serving, provide almost 50% of your daily recommended protein, 67% of Vitamin A, 55% Vitamin C, and 46% Niacin (a B Vitamin). It’s also rich in all the B Vitamins and provides 1/4 of your daily recommended Calcium! Wow, this recipe is killer. I’ll take your thanks in advance and just say you’re welcome 🙂