Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken) and Naan Bread

A couple weeks ago I decided that Aaron and I should have an "ethnic" day where we eat a traditional meal from another country and share facts about that country. I left the information part to my exceptionally-smart husband, and I took care of the food.
If any of you have eaten at an Indian restaurant you have had Naan bread. Oh what a beautiful thing it is. I have made it before and it was so-so. This recipe, however, is phenomenal. PLEASE make the bread ASAP. You will be so happy you did :) Aaron liked it so much that he asked that I make a large batch so he could eat it for lunch everyday for the next week.

A couple notes on the recipes:
After reading many comments and suggestions from authentic Indian cooks I found that Indian food has lots of spices, the most common are a cumin/coriander mixture, a fresh ginger/garlic mixture, and it also has a spice called fenugreek. I have never used fenugreek, but I am going to try and find some to use next time. Another tip is to use ground cashews as a thickening agent. If you don't have cashews you can use cornstarch, but the cashews give the sauce a wonderful nutty flavor that marries well with the other flavors. A lot of dishes call for half-and-half or cream. I replaced the dairy with a full-fat coconut milk that tasted great with the flavors of the dish.

Chicken Makhani
Aaron rating: ********** (8 out of 10)

1 tablespoon oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter or ghee
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp fresh, grated ginger
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 cup ground cashews (or 1 tbsp cornstarch)
1/4 cup water (don't add all at once!)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Saute shallot and onion until soft and translucent. Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in half-and-half and yogurt. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat, and season with 1 teaspoon garam masala and cayenne. Stir in a few spoonfuls of sauce, and simmer until liquid has reduced, and chicken is no longer pink. Stir cooked chicken and ground cashews into sauce. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.

Naan Bread
Aaron Rating: "Delicious"

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.
At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.

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