Butter chicken and other feel-good recipes from acclaimed cookbook author Sapna Anand

Sapna says people can use the extended time at home to learn authentic comfort food recipes like butter chicken. — Photos: SAPNA ANAND

Since the MCO started, renowned cookbook author Sapna Anand has been dipping her fingers into all sorts of culinary pursuits, from doing an online course on the science of food to posting a multitude of Indian recipes on her Instagram account.

Sapna, who has also helmed cooking shows like Fast Indian Cooking with Sapna, says sharing recipes on her social media channel is particularly important to her, as this is precisely the time when people are looking for inspiration and ideas.

“I use as many local ingredients as I can in my recipes and I tell everybody, if you can’t find an ingredient, just use what you have. And a lot of people seem to be making the dishes that I’ve been posting, which is really comforting to know, ” she says.

Sapna says during this period she finds comfort in recipes that have a strong nostalgic hold on her, like ros omelette (ros means gravy in Konkani), for instance, a Goanese dish that she has eaten since she was a child.

“This is street food that is available in Goa, India. You will see vendors in pushcarts making fresh omelettes with hot curry on it. So it’s basically comfort food to me, because it’s something I grew up with – my mum used to make it with our leftover curries.

During the MCO, Sapna says people might want to make easy meals as much as they might want to venture into more ambitious territory. During the MCO, Sapna says people might want to make easy meals as much as they might want to venture into more ambitious territory.

“And let’s face it, even though people are cooking more than ever now, they can’t have elaborate meals every day – there will be lazy days, so this is really yummy comfort food that is fast and easy to make and can utilise leftover curries, ” she says.

Sapna’s butter chicken recipe meanwhile is something she thinks people might want to nail at home now that they have more time on their hands.

“Butter chicken originates from one of the oldest restaurants in Delhi and it is very typically north Indian comfort food – when anybody asks me about comfort food, I immediately think of butter chicken and naan.

“But making butter chicken is more of a process - you need two different recipes for it to combine to make butter chicken. So the grilled chicken tikka is a recipe on its own and then you need a butter chicken stock.

“So I have shared a very traditional recipe for butter chicken with no short-cuts because I think now that people have more time, they might want to invest some of that time in learning how to make authentic dishes, ” she says.


For the chicken tikka

salt to taste

2-3 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala powder

1 tsp roasted cumin powder

1/2 cup thick yoghurt

250g boneless chicken thigh meat, cleaned and cut into medium size cubes

satay sticks, to skewer meat

To make the chicken tikka

In a bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients together and taste test to check for seasoning before adding the chicken. Toss with chicken and leave to marinate overnight.

Soak satay sticks in water for one hour.

Preheat oven to 175°C. Thread the marinated chicken onto the sticks and place them on a cooling rack with a tray below and grill at 180°C for 20-25 minutes. Baste the chicken with oil while grilling.

For the sauce

2 tbsp unsalted butter + 2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp cooking oil

2 tbsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 star anise

4 green cardamom

4 cloves

2 inch cinnamon stick (optional)

1 large red onion finely chopped

1 green chilli

1 tbsp ginger paste

1 tbsp garlic paste

1 canned chopped tomato or 6 fresh tomatoes chopped and cubed (do not discard the juices)

12 cashew nuts

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp chilli powder

2 to 3 tbsp honey

salt to taste

1 tsp crushed dried fenugreek leaves (kasthuri methi)

cooked chicken tikka

2 tbsp fresh cream (optional)

coriander leaves, for garnish

To cook

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil on low heat, then add in spices one at a time, and sauté for few seconds.

Add in the onion followed by the green chilli, ginger and garlic paste and sauté till onions turn light brown. Add a pinch of salt to help the onions to caramelise.

Add the chopped tomatoes or canned tomatoes, followed by turmeric powder. Then put in the cashew nuts and cook on low heat until the oil starts to bubble from the sides of the pan and the sauce thickens. Let the mix cool and blend into a smooth paste.

Bring it back to the pan to cook again with 2 tablespoons of butter, chilli powder, honey, salt as needed, crushed fenugreek leaves and the cooked tandoori chicken. Bring it to a light boil, check and adjust seasoning.

Serve with a drizzle of fresh cream along with fresh coriander leaves.


For the masala omelette

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1/2 a small tomato, finely chopped

1 cili padi, finely chopped

1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped

2 sprigs coriander, finely chopped

2 eggs

2 tbsp milk or water

salt to taste

1 tsp chilli powder

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp garam masala (optional)

leftover chicken curryFor garnishingfinely chopped red onions

fresh coriander leaves, chopped

To make

Put onions, tomatoes, cili padi, garlic and coriander leaves in a bowl and mix together.

Beat eggs with milk and add the chopped ingredients along with salt, chilli powder, turmeric powder and garam masala powder.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan and cook the eggs till done.

In a serving dish, scoop 2 ladles of chicken curry and place the masala omelette over it. Garnish with chopped onions and coriander leaves.

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