I don’t tend to do much experimenting when it comes to cooking. I don’t enjoy cooking as much as I do baking, so I’m just not motivated to venture beyond the old standards. I also have a serious lack of confidence.
Every now and then, though, I get the itch to try something new. Sometimes it works and, well, sometimes it doesn’t (putting it mildly). But even then, I don’t go far beyond what I’m already comfortable with.
Recently I got the urge to go wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy out of my comfort zone and I tried my hand at butter chicken. It’s something I really enjoy eating, but it has always seemed to…exotic…for my limited culinary skills. But, as much as I enjoy it, I am limited as to when and where I can get it.
Starting about 10 or 12 years ago, my tolerance for spicy heat in foods took a hit. I’m not sure why, but it did. I didn’t have a very high tolerance to begin with, but since then mild salsa is sometimes too much for my sadly sensitive palate. Some places have it mild enough that I can eat it and others I can’t touch at all. I tend to avoid it except at a buffet where I can have a little taste before committing.
So, I took it into my head to try to make butter chicken on my own. That way, I reasoned, I could tweak the recipe to reduce or omit heat-inducing ingredients to my own taste.
To be honest, I was extremely skeptical, not to mention nervous, about the whole idea. Firstly, I had no expectation whatsoever that anything I could make would even come close to rivaling what would come from the kitchen of a cherished Indian grandmother.
As such, when I hit up the ol’ Google machine, I typed in “easy butter chicken” not “traditional butter chicken”.
Thankfully, there were a lot to choose from. Hmm…I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, actually. Having never made it before and having no real idea of what went into it (besides chicken, of course), I had no idea which recipe to choose from.
I read a few and, after a lot of reading and guessing, I picked and chose bits and pieces of about three different ones. (I wish I had kept the links to them, but I didn’t. Sorry!) I made up my grocery list and went shopping. That wasn’t the nerve-wracking part – I’m good at shopping. J
It still took a bit of nerve for me to actually get around to the cooking part. I was, seriously, almost afraid to start. Who was *I* to think I could take this on?? My culinary background is a pretty standard meat-and-potatoes kind of thing, not to mention far too much prepared foods. Now, all of a sudden, I was going to take on an Indian classic? And, moreover, instead of picking one recipe and sticking to it, I was going to try combining bits and pieces of three different ones and throwing in some of my own ideas?
It was bound to fail.
I convinced myself, though, that since I was only cooking it for myself, the only real consequence if it failed was that I’d just have to find something else to eat for supper. Having thus given myself permission to fail, I was able to get started.
I went through the various steps, feeling quite chuffed that I was even giving it a go, and started to feel really hopeful when I added the cream – it became that fabulous butter chicken colour and, when I bent close, it even smelled like butter chicken!!
But the chicken breasts still needed to go in and, in my experience, that can make or break a recipe. It’s the texture – it has to cook properly or it could be too dry or too tough or too anything but yummy. I don’t have a great track record with it, to be honest.
Once the chicken was in and the pot was covered, I had to walk away. This is also something I’m not great at. Sometimes I poke and pick at things because I don’t trust myself or the recipe or whatever and things crash and burn. It was hard. But I did it.
And it paid off – it didn’t fail!
In fact, it was a roaring success. (Keep in mind the fact that I had kept the bar pretty low – it was a roaring success compared to that.) While I wouldn’t ever serve it to anyone who grew up with a traditional butter chicken recipe, I will definitely do it again – and again and again and again. I absolutely loved it.
I faced my fears once when I was about 12 or 13 and it didn’t go so well (a story for another time, perhaps). This time, happily, it went smashingly.
And now I can have butter chicken whenever I want!! Woohoooooooooo!!!!