Whenever it's chilly, windy, rainy, or the weekend, I crave Indian food. I'm basically always craving Indian food. There was a place by my old apartment in Baltimore with the best buffet on the weekends. For under $15, I could fill up on as much chicken tikka masala, vegetable pakora, tandoori chicken, garlic naan, vegetable biryani, kheer, and Nepali tea as humanly possible. It was a dream.
When we moved to Virginia, we had a Staunton Dinner Club that would drive 45 mins to get Indian food. For a small town in the mountains that isn't really close to anything, Staunton has some surprisingly great chefs and frickin delicious food.
After the move to North Carolina, I started making some diet changes. There was no Kenny’s, so my fried chicken intake decreased significantly (if you ever drive on 81 between Staunton and Roanoke, stop at Kenny’s in Lexington, you won’t regret it). I stopped frequenting Indian restaurants because we couldn’t find one we liked as much.
Making our favorites at home was the next best thing, but what to do about the rice? As much as I love cooking, rice has always been a challenge to me. It’s always to sticky or steamed, and I may have caused a few microwave fires via ‘microwaveable’ rice in my day. Something has to soak up all that yummy sauce. No ancient grain seemed to do the trick and, I'm sorry, but cauliflower rice is flavorless and stupid. But regular cauliflower? That can be crisped and roasted and spiced to perfection.
So I went with a roasted cauliflower as a base and then started experimenting with other veggies. I’m not a fan of potatoes, and chickpeas aren't my favorite. But golden raisins are amazing! I finally settled on carrots, cauliflower, peas, onions, and golden raisins, but feel free to substitute any of those with your preferred vegetables!
So customize as you like & enjoy some paleo-friendly butter chicken!
1 bunch small carrots, with tops
1 head cauliflower
1 can peas
1 cup rehydrated golden raisins (to rehydrate, let sit in a cup/bowl of hot water for 30 min)
1 lemon, sliced into rounds
2 tablespoons Garam masala
6 chicken thighs
any type of Indian sauce - i've included my easy, customizable recipe below, but I also like Maya Kaimal sauces
01. preheat at oven to 400, remove tops (set aside for later & peel carrots, cut cauliflower into florets, & chop up a handful of carrot greens
02. toss carrots (and any other veggies that take a while to cook) with oil and salt and roast for 10 minutes.
03. if making your own sauce, go ahead and make it now - my recipe is below. If using canned sauce, add it to a large heavy pot and bring to a simmer. In a separate pan, sear chicken on both sides.
04. add crisped up chicken to the sauce, bring to a steady simmer, lower heat, and cover.
05. add the other veggies, lemon, and at least 1 teaspoon of garam masala to the carrots. stir and return to the oven.
06. Once the veggies are soft, remove from the oven. Add any extra seasoning you want. Serve chicken on top of veggies with extra sauce. Enjoy.
...sauce recipe below
1 tbsp grass fed butter, ghee, or oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 can coconut milk
extra garam masala
01. Heat butter/ghee/oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat.
02. Add onion, tomato paste, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
03. Add garam masala and stir to let flavors deepen, about 4 minutes.
04. Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them or using an immersion blender. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot.
05. Add coconut milk and let simmer, stirring occasionally. Taste sauce during this time and add optional spices to taste. This is where you can customize the sauce to your personal preference and make it as spicy as you like. In total, let the sauce simmer for 30-40 minutes.
06. Freeze whatever sauce you don't immediately use.