The best curry ever. Vegan butter chicken

Note: This is not yet another cauliflower curry dish. Believe me: it’s more than that. I’m just warning you because we often put all curries into one category, thinking of them as simple fast food, like “fried vegetables with curry spice and coconut milk”. In fact, it would be really difficult to define and estimate how many different kinds of curry exist and how many different culinary traditions each dish draws from. I recommend having a look at the classification of curries, e.g. the regions they come from. Only in India itself the situation is already very complex, but after all, almost the whole world prepares its own version of this dish. I was surprised that you can also find recipes for „a traditional British curry” (In that case would the German version of this dish be curry-wurst?)

Although I love to experiment and create my own improvised compositions, sometimes it is worth looking at the traditional methods and ingredients – thanks to this you can rediscover a dish that seemed obvious to you. So I did: I’ve started reading and watching various recipes and videos about “murgh makhani”, a traditional, legendary dish known as “butter chicken”. And it turned out that there are tons of differences among the supposedly traditional recipes. So what did I do? I’ve tried to pull out the common part to create a strong basis for the dish, and then I’ve launched the vegan translator in my head: I’ve translated chicken into crispy baked cauliflower, and butter and yoghurt into one of the most creamy plant-based products: cashews.

I don’t want to brag, because I’m not the genius who created this amazing composition called butter chicken: creamy, extremely rich, sour, sweet and spicy, all at the same time. But I am really happy with the result. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not yet another cauliflower curry. It’s full of flavour and it’s the best curry I’ve ever had.

Note: the recipe is not difficult, but requires several separate steps. In another post, I devote my attention to the optional extras: baked lemon rice and fresh red onion pickles (click)

Note 2: I recommend you prepare the necessary ingredients (in particular the spices) on the kitchen counter in advance. Thanks to this, you can wrap up the entire dinner set —vegan butter chicken, crispy lemon rice and pink pickles — in less than an hour.

The best curry ever. Vegan butter chicken

At least 6 dinner portions ( it tastes great reheated as well. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days)

Ginger and garlic paste:

  • 1 large, peeled piece of ginger (30-40g)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • A large pinch of salt

Baked cauliflower:

  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower (preferably with leaves!)
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 flat tsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp of oil

Creamy cashew sauce:

  • 1 cup of cashews (about 150g)
  • Juice squeezed from half a lemon
  • 1.5 cup of water
  • Big pinch of salt

Tomato sauce:

  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 1 small onion or half of a larger one
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of cardamom (or a few seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp of chilli powder
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 1 flat tsp of salt
  • 250ml tomato passata (or a can of chopped tomatoes)
  1. Soak the cashews in water, preferably in a tall container suitable for blending liquids. Let them soak for at least 10 minutes.

  2. Place the peeled garlic and ginger with salt in a mortar or blender with an S-shaped blade. Take a minute or two to get a fairly smooth paste.

  3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Separate the cauliflower from its leaves, but do not throw them away. Wash everything thoroughly. Prepare the larger cauliflower florets, cut stems into smaller, not too thick pieces, cut all the leaves along the stems.

  4. Blend soaked cashews with water. Then add the juice from half a lemon and a good pinch of salt. Blend it once again to get rid of the pieces of nuts. Try to achieve smooth cashew „milk”.

  5. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the cauliflower pieces with 1/4 of the cashew „milk”, half of the garlic and ginger paste, and the oil and spices: turmeric, coriander, cumin and salt. Place everything on a baking sheet covered with paper and put it into the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

  6. Time to prepare the sauce. Chop the onion into small pieces and fry it with oil in a big pan. Add anise and cloves and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the remaining spices, salt, sugar and the other half of the garlic and ginger paste. Fry along with the onion for an additional minute.

  7. Add the tomato passata to the pan and fry it for a few minutes. Then add almost all oh the cashew “milk” (save some for later) and leave it on the stove for extra two to three minutes.

  8. The last step is to mix the baked cauliflower with the sauce. When serving, pour the rest of the cashew “milk” over it and sprinkle it with some fresh coriander. Serve with rice or flat bread. It tastes great with baked lemon rice and fresh red onion pickles (check out the recipe here: click).