butter chicken, raita & naan (nomnomnom)

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It turns out that the furriners we have staying with us at the moment (oh, all right: French niece & her Scottish partner) quite like a curry now & then. So do we, although neither the husband nor the daughter like them particularly hot. So, casting around for something to do with some of our excess cucumbers, I decided upon butter chicken, cucumber raita and – because I could! – naan bread (so that we’d have something to scoop up that lovely mass of sauce-soaked rice that you have towards the end of the meal). Oh yes, & rice; that almost goes without saying.

Now, there’s a huge range of butter chicken recipes on the net & no, I don’t have my own 🙂 You’ll find the one I used last night here, & while it may not be a traditional recipe it’s still rather nice. (I chose it because its ingredients happened to match what I had to hand.) And it was quick to put together, which I did while the bread (see later on) was resting/rising.

The raita was also quick & easy. I grabbed the largest cucumber, topped-&-tailed it, & then cut it in half lengthwise & scooped out most of the seeds. Then I cut each half into 4 longitudinal slices, sliced those crosswise into small almost-dice, & put the lot into a bowl before spooning over a goodly amount of Greek yoghurt and mixing in about 1/2 c of finely chopped mint & then salt to taste.

While I was at it I used some of the tomatoes, a red onion, & one of the lovely avocados I bought at the market on Sunday, to make a salsa, dressing it with a mix of lime & lemon juice & a bit of salt & pepper. (Yes, we have lime trees – they’re growing very well in a couple of tubs in our courtyard.)

The bread – which was lovely – is a recipe that I haven’t made in quite a while (for reasons that escape me, because the recipe is simple & quick to make). It comes from The New Zealand Bread Book which, alas! seems to be out of print at the moment.

  •  In a bowl, mix 1 c flour, 2 tsp sugar, 1 Tbsp Surebake yeast (for Kiwis – the yeast in the red-top jar 🙂 ) & 1/2 tsp salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in 1/2 c plain yoghurt (or buttermilk), followed by 1/2 c boiling water. Beat until smooth & leave to rest for 3 minutes.
  • Add 2 Tbsp cooking oil & a lightly beaten egg, & stir to mix. Sift together ** 2 c flour & 1 tsp baking powder & add this to the yeast mix. Stir to form a soft dough (at this point, I must say that I always have to add a little more liquid to the mix, to get the right softness of dough).  Knead for around 7 minutes, then return to the bowl (I usually give the bowl a wipe & then add a couple of tsp of oil, & turn the dough in it to coat), cover with plastic, & leave somewhere warm for 15 minutes.
  • Knock back the dough & divide evenly into 6 pieces. (I’m thinking of making these for lunch, to fill with salad, in which case I’ll make 12 smaller pockets cos the big ones would be a bit much to handle.) Roll each one out on a floured board to an oval shape, about 25 cm x 12 cm.  Place the naan breads on well-floured boards or trays, & leave uncovered in a warm place for 30-40 minutes. They won’t rise much – if at all – in this time.
  • While the breads are resting, preheat the oven to 250 degrees C – and put metal trays in there to heat as well. Last night I used my ceramic pizza stone & that worked a real treat.
  • When the oven’s hot, carefully pick up a naan, turn it over (that part’s important!) & place it on the very hot tray. Do the same with the next naan – you need to cook them 2-3 at a time, for 5-7 minutes until they are golden brown & puffed up. (And they puff up amazingly – it’s quite fun to watch.) Wrap in a clean tea towel while you cook the remaining naan,  & serve warm.

** I don’t own a sifter; I just stir it all through with a fork.

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