It’s curry time. This week, it’s the comfort food of Butter Chicken vs. the Prawn Pathia. One creamy and delicious, the other lean and healthy. Who’s going to win?
Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)
The literal translation of this dish’s name is ‘butter chicken’, so you just know it’s not going to be the healthiest dish on the menu. It’s quite a complicated recipe, and it’ll vary between restaurants, but this should give you a general idea.
First the chicken is marinated in lemon juice, chilli, garlic and salt. Then, a further marinade is added, made of yogurt, spices, oil, and the first lot of butter (yes, there will be more). The spices could include garam masala, ginger, and more chilli.
After the chicken has absorbed the spicy flavours, it’s baked, while the sauce is prepared – and here’s where the rest of the butter comes in! A generous amount of butter is heated in a pan, and when it’s hot and bubbly some garam masala is added, and sizzles up. Then even more garlic, ginger and chilli goes in, before some tomato puree. The sauce is cooked down a bit, then another ingredient makes it even more indulgent – lashings of double cream.
You’ve got to admit that this dish contains more than its fair share of saturated fat – all that butter, and the cream as well. And saturates are the kind of fats that increase our risk of heart disease and other disease if we eat them too regularly, so save this dish for very special occasions only! Some restaurants serve beef and lamb makanis, which are even naughtier – but I’ve chosen to write about chicken because it’s the most popular, so the most likely for you to see.
This is hot, sweet and sour. And, unlike many curries, it doesn’t involve large amounts of butter or cream.
The first ingredients are sugar (there’s the sweet), vinegar and tamarind paste (for the sour), and chilli (hot!) Onions and garlic are fried, then some red peppers go in, followed by some flavoursome spices – turmeric, coriander and cumin. Then it’s time for the hot, sweet and sour paste to give it some zing! When that’s mixed in, it’s time for some tomatoes. The sauce is simmered until it thickens and the flavours intensify, before the prawns are added at the last minute, so they stay juicy and tender.
You might see other pathia dishes on the menu, such as beef, keema (mince), lamb, chicken, and various vegetables such as mushroom or mixed vegetable. The red meat varieties will be a good source of protein, iron and zinc, but higher in fat and saturated fat than chicken. Vegetables are virtually fat-free (until you add fat in the cooking process), but I’ve chose prawns for my ‘nice’ dish this time because of their good protein content, needed for the body’s growth and repair.
So, go for prawn pathia (or delicious king prawns if you feel like splashing out), and serve it with some plain boiled rice or a chapatti, for a takeaway that won’t break the calorie bank.