Traveling through Vancouver, BC Canada, one can’t help but notice the very sizable South Asian ethnic community here which has helped to mainstream Indian spices and dishes into Canadian cuisine. One local dish that everyone loves is known as “Butter Chicken”, a rich and spicy tomato-based curry with marinated chicken served over basmati rice. With Vancouver’s rich offering of Indian restaurants serving vegetarian food, I thought for sure I would find a vegetarian version of the Butter Chicken dish, but alas I could not. So I decided to create my own!
A few thoughts before we jump in though:
Vegetarian vs Vegan ingredients
I used real butter and low fat greek yogurt in this recipe but to make this dish vegan you can substitute Earth’s Balance* spread or coconut oil for the butter and coconut milk for the yogurt. Also, I’m a big fan of high quality, clean veggie meats and by clean I mean do not contain GMO’s (watch for GMO soy in particular) or crap ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, etc. For this dish, I chose the Gardein ‘Chicken’ strips* which I used without the separate teriyaki packets. The Beyond Meat* chicken strips would also work well. If you can’t find the veggie chicken, you can always use organic tofu. The rich curry flavors will marinate whatever protein you use so it comes down to your preferred texture and taste palate.
Regarding spices, don’t be intimated!
No need to go very far, Indian spices are becoming easier to find in most grocery stores. Experiment with what you like so you can add a little more or less to your taste preference, especially the chili flakes. Stick to the relative amounts I suggest and you really can’t go wrong. Oh and did you know that South Asian spices are incredibly healthful, especially tumeric? I like the University of Michigan Integrative Medicine’s explanation on the health benefits of spices as part of their Healing Foods Pyramid.
Now to the recipe …
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 package of veggie chicken strips (might be frozen or fresh)
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tsp ginger, fresh or dried powder
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp tandori powder
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 3/4 cup veggie stock
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 3/4 cup low fat greek yogurt
- 2 cups cooked rice
Preparation is completely stovetop, no need to turn on the oven …
- Heat a large frying pan on medium and add half the butter
- Add the frozen/fresh chicken strips and onion and cook until onions are brown and meat is thoroughly heated.
- Remove mixture from the pan and set aside
- On low heat, cook the remaining butter and all the spices together for a few mins. Add back in the chicken and onions along with the tomatoes, veggie stock, and cashews.
- Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer mixture on low heat for about 10 minutes (to allow the spices to marinate the veggie meat).
- Stir in yogurt and heat thoroughly for a few more minutes. Spoon on top of basmati rice.
- Serve with a side vegetable such as peas and/or a side salad.
Hint: To marinate the veggie meat further, you can can cool down the mixture after you add in the meat, tomatoes, stock and cashews and refrigerate it overnight. Finish the dish by heating it back up and adding the yogurt.
* Please note that I do not work for or accept any renumeration for the products I recommend in my blog. I simply mean to suggest superior products I know about and use myself if I think it will be helpful for my readers.
Happy cooking and be well,