Butter Chicken Lasagna | The $185000 recipe


It started with reading a recipe for Murg Makhani. A restaurant feature in TimeOut Abu Dhabi covered Ushna, a fine dining Indian restaurant in Abu Dhabi. To start of, the sauce requires 5 kilograms of fresh tomatoes to be boiled for two hours. I’m sure most of us home cooks don’t have stock pots large enough to hold even 3 kilograms of tomatoes. In any case, I kept reading. If there’s one thing I have learnt from Masterchef classes and recipes is that more than adapting it to the home kitchen, it’s the technique that we can learn from. This recipe, too, had an important line that will shatter one of the most common concepts of a great butter chicken. Chef Amrish Sood states the logic behind the curry is that the texture of the sauce should be similar to butter, smooth and fine. You would think the idea was that the sauce itself should taste buttery. It just happened that I was on the lookout for a sound lasagna recipe at the same time. That’s when I had the Eureka moment. Given the amount of tomatoes that go into the sauce, why don’t I make a Lasagna using butter chicken?!

At that point, it sounded incredible. I thought I had struck gold. While typing it out on Google, and hoping I wouldn’t get any hits, the results had me stumped. Ontario based, Rick Matharu won 250,000 Canadian dollars on a competition show on Food Network Canada for this very creation. This was a competition based on online voting and beat 7 other creative recipes. If anything, I knew I had the validation to go ahead and experiment on this recipe. I’m sure purists out there would cringe at the thought of this fusion. Last year, we had an Iftar for my awesome cousins and I made this keeping in mind one of them who absolutely loves Lasagna. And once we were done, I even packed off the very little that was left because he absolutely loved it. Let’s just say that I’ve been making this for close to 5 years to date and it hasn’t failed me once.


This recipe does take a while to come together, given all the components. The sauce takes the longest. The chicken chunks, ideally, needs to be marinated overnight. Mind you, the recipe for this grilled chicken is one that will melt in your mouth. I didn’t even bake mine. I used my grill pan and cooked them on the stovetop. Another tip I picked up from this recipe is to use pure ghee to baste while cooking. Please give the olive oil a rest for this one. I’ve found that grilling gives them the char that only adds to the flavor of the sauce. The only thing to keep in mind that since, the chicken is meant for Lasagna, they have to be cut a bit smaller than they would be for chicken skewers.


Look at that colour! I promise I’ve toggled with the saturation ever so slightly. I have simplified the sauce part quite a bit but followed through the other steps. This is a recipe where you don’t want to take shortcuts. So crush that cardamom pods finely and dry roast some cashews just enough to make a tablespoon of paste. Once I rushed through this recipe myself and felt that the texture lacked that consistency and the deepness of the flavor was lost. The final step in the sauce requires more attention to taste than actual measure of ingredient. To balance out the sourness of the sauce, you need to add honey. Apparently the sourness of the tomatoes depends on the season they’re grown in. Summer grown tomatoes are more sour than their winter counterparts which means you would need to add a little more honey. Since I don’t use fresh tomatoes, I thought that this technique wouldn’t apply to me. However, there was a time I needed to use up to five tablespoons of honey to fine-tune the sauce. I usually start grilling my chicken half way through making the sauce so they can be added straight away


The assembly is a little more than just layering sauce between lasagna sheets. As it has to be baked for close to an hour, the heat would naturally cause the sauce to dry out. This is where Ricotta comes into play. Considering it is one the of the ingredients in a lasagna, I made sure I used it the recipe.  After adding the sauce, I add a few spoons of Ricotta and then swirl them both together. Given it’s mildly sweetness, it doesn’t alter the taste of the sauce, melds while baking and add a touch of creaminess. 


BC_003.jpg

Possible my favorite part of this Lasagna is the addition of fresh Mozzarella. For the past few years, these can be found in the supermarket exactly how you would find them in Italy. Globes of snow white milky goodness encased in a thin skin soaked in brine. Eating these is still is one of my favorite memories from honeymooning in Italy. I rarely use the shredded variety and prefer these while making pizza too. I remember a couple of years ago, my cousin came over to bake and I was making Ali pasta for lunch. While cutting the mozzarella, I offered her a cube. She asked why would I eat this raw and I told her give it a go. To date, she waxes lyrical about the difference and says it has changed her life. It sounds {very} dramatic but you’d agree if you tasted them for the first time too.



How can I lure you with a recipe of lasagna without another cheese pull? Come to think of it, I’m sharing three recipes with this post. Juicy tandoori chicken, a delectable butter chicken and using it both for a lasagna. It has a tendency to taste better the next day exactly how Biryani does. I like making this for a Friday lunch too. Considering the Iftar timings are close to dinner, this will be a firm favorite on your table.

Butter Chicken Lasagna

Serves 8 people

Butter chicken recipe adapted by Chef Amrish Sood  

INGREDIENTS

Tandoori Chicken

  • Chicken breast (boneless) – 500 g
  • Freshly squeezed Lime juice – 1 small Indian Lime
  • Ginger Garlic paste – 3 tsp
  • Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
  • Thick curd – ¼ cup
  • Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • Fresh cream – ¼ cup
  • Ghee – for basting

Tomato Sauce

  • Strained tomatoes (I use Pomi) – 1000 g
  • Garlic – 8 cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • Freshly Crushed Cardamom seed powder – 2 tsp + 1 tsp (see notes)
  • Ghee – 1 tbsp
  • Kashmiri chilli powder – 2 tbsp
  • Roasted Cashew paste – 1 tbsp
  • Butter – 4 tbsp
  • Cream – 100 ml
  • Crushed Fenugreek leave [Kasuri Methi] – 3 tsp
  • Honey – as required
  • Salt – to taste

Assembly

  • Lasagna sheets [no pre-cook]
  • Ricotta – 250 g
  • Fresh Mozzarella – 400g cut into chunks
  • Shredded mozzarella – as required

METHOD

  • Cut the chicken into small cubes.
  • Marinate it in lemon juice, ginger garlic paste and salt for at least an hour.
  • Add the chili powder, 1 tsp cardamom powder, curd and fresh cream.
  • Marinate it for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Bring the marinated chicken to room temperature before cooking.
  • Thread the chicken onto skewers and grill them basting occasionally with Ghee.
  • If you do not have a stovetop grill pan, cook them in a pre heated oven at 250˚C for 10-15 minutes, basting with ghee occasionally.
  • In a large saucepan, heat a tablespoon of ghee.
  • When it is hot, add chopped garlic and fry till it changes color.
  • Pour the strained tomatoes and add Kashmiri chili powder, 1 tsp cardamom powder and salt.
  • Stir it well and bring it to boil on a medium flame.
  • Once it starts bubbling [splatter alert!], lower the flame and let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the roasted cashew paste and butter and stir well.
  • Once the butter has melted completely, switch the flame off.
  • Blend the tomato into a fine puree.
  • Cook the blended puree for a further 30 minutes.
  • Chef Amrish says the basic logic of makhani is that the texture of the sauce should be similar to butter and NOT the the sauce should taste like butter.
  • Add the grilled chicken, fenugreek leaves and season with salt.
  • Once it boils, taste the sauce and start adding honey a teaspoon at a time. The aim is to balance out the sourness of the tomatoes. Keep tasting the sauce till it tastes balanced.
  • Once the sauce has thickened, reduce the heat and add fresh cream.
  • Finish with crushed fenugreek leaves and 1 tsp cardamom powder.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  • In a baking dish, pour a tablespoon of sauce and spread well.
  • Layer with lasagna sheets and add top with tomato sauce.
  • Add a teaspoon of ricotta cheese and roughly mix it into the tomato sauce.
  • Repeat this method of layering till the dish is close to full.
  • Add one final layer of tomato sauce and ricotta mixture.
  • Chop the mozzarella into cubes and distribute them on top.
  • Fill in the gaps with shredded mozarella cheese.
  • Loosely cover the dish with a piece of aluminum foil.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and use a toothpick to ensure lasagna sheets are cooked through. The toothpick should pierce right to the bottom.
  • Carefully remove the dish and place it close to the top rack. 
  • Switch on the broiler inside the oven to grill the cheese till it is bubbly and golden. Watch carefully or your cheese might burn.
  • If your oven does not have a broiler, simply remove the aluminum foil and let it bake till the cheese melts and becomes bubbly and golden.

NOTES

If you’re using store bought cardamom powder, use 3 + 1 tsp. 

You can halve the recipe and bake it in a loaf pan if you’re cooking for 2. You’ll have leftover butter chicken for the next day too. 🙂

Have a good food day.

4 Replies to “Butter Chicken Lasagna | The $185000 recipe”

    1. Hello Marlene. I specified thick curd because for readers residing in India. The yoghurt has a much higher water content and this indicated that they should hang it in cheesecloth for a while to remove excess water. Regular store bought Yoghurt will be fine for you. And yes, the Lasagna sheets are the ones that do not require cooking before and can be used straight from the box. Hope this helps. I would love to hear how the recipe turned out 😊

  1. Your recipe sounds delicious! If the tomatoes are too acidic, try adding a tiny pinch of baking soda (can substitute for same amount of salt), stirring, until no more bubbles form from acid being neutralized. This will make it taste sweeter without using as much honey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *