Butter Chicken by Dot.
1 lemon, juiced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika (although that sounds too Spanish to be Indian)
1-2 tsp hot chilli powder
200g natural yogurt (they mean dahi but you can’t get that here)
500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs. (Breasts can work just as well, skinlessness and bonelessness essential)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Thumb-sized piece ginger, grated (no other finger may be used as measurement)
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground fenugreek (whatever the fuck that is)
3 tbsp tomato puree
A pinch of adulthood
300ml chicken stock
50g flaked almonds, toasted (optional)
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional, for the white girl who lives inside you)
Bollywood to taste
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In a medium bowl, squeeze the lemon till the gashes in your cuticles begin to sting.
Smell the cumin, sneeze. Add the cumin. And the paprika, and the chilli powder.
Stir in the dahi. Remember how yummy real dahi is and frown at the creamy goop in the mixing bowl. Also remember how fun it is to say dahi.
Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and toss with the marinade. Cover and chill in the fridge overnight. Try to sleep while housemate sings Carmen in the room next door.
Go downstairs and poke at the chicken for a while in your dressing gown. Put your hair in a bun and roll up your sleeves
In a large, heavy saucepan / theonlysaucepanyouhave, heat the oil. Add the onions, garlic, green chilli (optional) and ginger.
Remember that fenugreek means methi and you hate methi so don’t put it in. Also, you don’t have any fenugreek because you probably walked right past it on your first homeland supermarket venture. You bought haldi and garam masala and then went straight to the frozen foods section.
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Fry on a medium heat for 10 mins or until you start to feel good about yourself. Call mum because this cooking thing is really grown up and you’re proud of yourself. Also call grandparents and watch them struggle with technology.
Add the spices. Be the stereotype.
Stir in the tomato purée, cook for a further 2 mins until fragrant. Hold your breath as the food changes colour and wonder if you’ve messed it all up because it’s red and it’s meant to be yellow, and how can you call yourself Indian, you’re not brown enough you’re practically a valley girl.
Watch housemate come in with a box of Sanjay’s takeaway. Then add the stock and marinated chicken.
Cook for 15 mins, use this time to cry a little because it’s always so cold and rainy and nobody here knows what a tuktuk is and someone asked me if we use elephants as transportation. Wipe nose with sleeves and add any remaining marinade left in the bowl.
Simmer for 5 mins, then sprinkle with Bollywood dust. Question how connected you are with butter chicken in general. I mean you never eat it at home so why now? You don’t even like Bollywood.
Serve with naan bread (pretentiously correct the people who say naan bread) or rice. Pose with plate for pictures, invent hashtags, tag mum, wait for likes. Now you can eat.
Watch housemate say ‘pompadom’ and judge her.
About The Author
Dot. AKA Aditi Saigal is a British-Indian musician and writer currently completing a BA in Music and Creative Writing at Bangor University, Wales. Butter Chicken is her first written publication, but she also has a repertoire of original music that roots itself in poetry available on YouTube. Music: www.youtube.com/user/msknockknock99Instagram: @dotandthesyllables Dot’s story Butter Chicken appears in Issue Two: Underdog.