(Replace Mock Chicken with Tofu, and it’s Butter Paneer)
In the year 1947, Butter chicken was invented by accident in an Indian restaurant called “Moti Mahal” in Delhi. The left-over chicken was “by chance” mixed in with a creamy tomato gravy . Well that was that and it was not vegan. And I have been trying to crack the Butter-Chicken code for years.
As a vegan, I have tried and tried it many times. I came close but it never tasted like what they have at the Indian restaurants. I have experimented with many different ingredients, sugars, and syrups to get it sweet like the restaurants but in vain. I must admit even as a non-vegan I tried many combinations, cream, cashews, tomato ketchup, but the ultimate success alluded me.
But, I kept trying, and will you believe it I cracked the code while filming for a tik-tok video. Whether it’s tik-tok or Instagram, I always try to educate people that vegan food is fun, easy, and delicious. Tik-tok is run by my alter-ego “Tully Uncle” and some of his followers goaded him into making butter chicken. I think they were trying to be smart asking a vegan to make butter chicken. To Tully Uncle’s credit, not only he took on the challenge but delivered big time. The video went semi-viral. (Check it out @tullyzkitchen on Tik-Tok)
I have tasted this butter chicken and it really is something out of an Indian restaurant. Let me describe it. The tomato gravy is rich, buttery, and creamy. The whole experience is a sensory overload. My taste buds were in overdrive, I had tears of joy from the nostalgia of this dish. “Mock” chicken pieces marinated in coconut yogurt, lemon juice and Authentic Spices, then charred to “perfection”, and simmered in luxurious gravy makes this dish a delightful dinner/lunch (or in my case even breakfast)
The key to this dish is the gravy. It had to be rich, buttery, creamy, and sweet. The combination of almond meal, vegan butter, soy milk, and dates does the trick. We live in blessed times where there is an alternative for everything. We don’t have to travel to the foot-hills of Himalayas and source secret ingredients to eat delicious vegan food (as some vegan food-bloggers will suggest). Just stroll down to your local super-market and you will find everything to make a mouth-watering vegan dish for yourself and the family.
So sit back and enjoy the journey. ( P.S. I stole this recipe from Tully Uncle….Shhhhhh)
- 4 tbsp coconut yogurt
- 3 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder (use less/more as per liking, this caters for medium heat)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Few drops red food color (optional but this will give the restaurant red color to the dish)
- 2 packs Plantasia roast chicken (700 gms) *
- In a bowl mix all of the above ingredients (except “chicken”)
- Place the “chicken” in deep dish, pierce it with a fork and and pour over the marinade.
- Gently rub the marinade into the “chicken” using your fingers, and leave it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE GRAVY
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp ginger+garlic paste
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/3 cup almond meal/cashew meal (Basically its finely powdered almonds/cashews)
- 1/4 cup vegan butter (vegan margarine)
- 2 cups plant-milk (soy milk goes the best)
- Few drops red food color
- 10 dates pitted
- Heat up the vegan butter in a large and deep non-stick frying pan.
- Once the butter starts to bubble, add ginger+garlic and cook for 30 sec on medium heat.
- Add all the spices, stir and cook for another 30 secs
- Stir in the tomatoes, dates, almond meal, and food color. Cover and cook for 5-6 min. on low-medium heat.
- Switch off the heat and let the mixture cool off.
- In the meantime, heat up a griddle and grill the marinated “chicken” on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until slightly charred. Increase the heat and grill for another couple of minutes on each side if the desired char is not achieved.
- Once done, transfer it to a chopping board, cut it up into chunks and leave it aside.
- Transfer the mixture from earlier into a blender.
- Add plant-milk and blend until smooth. (Make sure the mixture is not hot, else you may have too much steam built up during blending, which could be dangerous)
- Pour the mixture back into the pan, add in the “chicken chunks” and cook for 3-5 minutes or until everything is heated through.
- Serve hot with Roti/Vegan Naan bread/Basmati rice