29 September 2007

A New Chapter Begins...Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

As some of you already know I work in a doctor's office and have done so for the past 10 years. I enjoy going to work each morning. It is truly a gift when going to work feels like spending time with friends. We are like a family even though we have had many staff changes over the years. They seem to have the knack for choosing employees that make a perfect fit. We all get along, we enjoy each others company, we are involved in each others lives (even if its just to be a cheering section or a shoulder to cry upon).

This chapter of our lives came to an end on Thursday when our fearless and dedicated doctor retired. I have so enjoyed working with him over the years. I will miss following his coffee trail down the hallway. Wink...wink...

On their farm they have a plane tree that was planted by Wilder Penfield. He was a leading Canadian brain surgeon responsible for mapping the brain. At 70 doctor Penfield retired and wrote a book called The Torch, a novel about Hippocrates , the Father of Medicine, who in the 4th century had drawn up the Hippocratic Oath for all physicians to follow. Research took Wilder to the island of Cos in Greece, where Hippocrates taught his students. On one of his last visits to the island he brought back some seedlings from the plane tree of which only 2 survived. One of those trees is in Vancouver and the other was planted to christen the first Neurological Centre in the British Columbia Interior, The Penfield Centre, which is now the Docs property where their farm house stands. Some day I will take a photo of the tree and post it here.

How will the Doc handle retirement!! I don't think we will ever really know. He always has something on the go; from putting a geothermal heating system onto his property (which required renting equipment for digging a 9 foot deep trench and laying pipe in the lake with diving gear); taking care of the orchard business from their farm; research on many clinical trials from asthma and COPD to fibromyalgia and acne; getting an oxygen backback concentrator on the market.....need I say more! So.... will he put his feet up and enjoy these later years. He will definitely enjoy them because he thrives on activity. He is like the Energizer bunny and keeps going and going and going....He has many plans for his retirement from travelling to India with one of his patients in November to driving a transport truck for a living (he has his license and is qualified to do so).

So in honor of the Doc I prepared an East Indian dish as a symbol for his future travels in India. Sorry, no wine in this one either so I'll have to drink it on the side.

The NEW CHAPTER...Dr. H begins work on Monday. She is such a little sweety and already part of our little family...

As an aside Nora from Life's Smorgasbord asked me what wines I would have paired with East Indian food. I am not a wine expert or sommelier myself so rely quite heavily upon the expertise from the ladies at our local British Columbia wine store. I offered a gewurztraminer at their recommendation. This exert comes comes Vivis Journal and the people at Wine Fetch:

" I was surprised at the considerable amount of discussion on the topic of pairing Indian food and wine, and I thought I would share the information. While there are various opinions, most agree on that “complex wines pair well with simple foods, and simple wines pair well with complex foods.”
Traditional Pairing:
Gew├╝rztraminer. The lychee fruit flavors with a hint of spice are good compliments because they have sweet flavors that strong enough to stand up to the complex spicy seasoning of Indian• New School: Find a white with crisp clean flavors. A young and fresh white with a balance of sweet and acid will compliment Indian. For example, a Chenin Blanc can pair well with chicken tikka masala, somosas, or naan. This wine is strong enough to hold up to Indian without stealing the show.
Room for Red?: Reds will go better with lightly seasoned Indian including tandori. Reds that are juicy rather than spicy, with round flavors are better. For example, a chilled Cotes du Rhone or an Old Vine Grenache can pair with chicken curry. Wines made on the Mediterranean coast are often made to stand up to spicy foods, and they can

**Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)**

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1 teaspoon garam masala or substitute below
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or, to taste
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of black pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon garam masala or substitute below
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute shallot and onion until soft and translucent. Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon garma masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in half-and-half and yogurt. Reduce heat to low; and simmer for 10 minutes. Reduce heat, and season with 1 tsp garam masala and cayenne. Stir in a few spoonfuls of sauce, and simmer until liquid has reduced, and chicken is no longer pink. Stir cooked chicken into sauce.

Mix together cornstarch and water, then stir into the sauce. Cook for 5 - 10 minutes, or until thickened.

Serves 4

Note: If you don't have garam masala use: 3/4 teaspoon cumin, 3/4 teaspoon coriander, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, 1/2 treason cardamon, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Mix together.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Mice recipe. Good luck with your new endeavor.

  2. I didn't know that you worked in a Doc's office, good to know!:))
    My husband is a Docctor too, LOVES his work and patients love him too.Sometimes we talk about when he should retire and somehow we think 70 is great age although we do have doc who is almost 73 and fit as a horse!
    Good luck to him, I bet he will enjoy his retirement after so many yrs of working.Hope his wife is okay with it too, because Man, I cannot handle Arvind if he has three days off of his work.He drives us CRAZY!!:D
    Butter chicken sounds great Valli.

  3. Asha..Here in British Columbia a doctor cannot work over the age of 72...well he can but he will not be paid.

  4. How wonderful to work with people you truly enjoy seeing every day...that is really a blessing. I'm sorry your doctor is retiring...he sounds like a gem of a fellow to work for. As for this recipe...as I read the ingredient list, I could almost imagine the wonderful spicy flavors in the finished dish...you are on a winning roll with all of these fantastic recipes, Valli! :-)

  5. Hey Valli, I am sure you will miss your Doc as he sounds like a very energetic person. Good for him that he will be able to enjoy retirement. What does that mean for you? New career ahead of you also?
    I have not cooked much Indian food but the butter chicken sounds lovely.

  6. You are blessed and fortunate to be working in a job you love and people that you genuinely care about.

    Doc, have a good one!

  7. Yes guys we are all truly fortunate to work in a loving environement. DR. H has been shadowing Dr A for the past week. She starts officially on Monday! The office and great care will still continue!

  8. That is just great that you enjoy your work and the people you work with. Not many can such things.

    You continue to inspire with all the different things you make. Thanks for sharing.

  9. It's great when the work environment is such a pleasant one to go to. I hope that your new boss will be as easy to get along with.

    I love butter chicken. I wonder which wine you paired this with. I do find it a bit tricky to pair wine with Indian food.

  10. Is very nice your blog Vali I like so much, the pictures are wonderful and the food the same, I like it.Gloria

  11. I love butter chicken and I use this dish to introduce Indian food to anyone who's feared it. Butter chicken coverts them each & every time.

  12. Nora, I put an aside from the people over at Wine Fetch at waht wines to pair with East Indian foods. It is variable, but I usually offer a gewurztraiminer which is the traditional pairing.
    I agree Peter, Butter Chicken is a good introduction to East Indian foods.

  13. Hi Valli, thanks for that. Gewurztraiminer would be a good choice. I have also discovered verdelho for a chili type of spicy (e.g. thai or chinese food).

  14. Mmm East Indian food sounds delicious and how very fortunate to work with such lovely people. Hope the new chapter continues as well with the new Dr. It sounds like you have the right sort of people around to make it work.


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