Butter Chicken – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

Butter Chicken - Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

When Ev’s little brother was staying with us over his summer school holidays (our winter), both he and Ev became a tad obsessed with butter chicken. They even had a song for it. I can understand why, it is delicious but unfortunately it does take a little planning to get this meal made as the chicken has to marinate overnight and the sauce is better if made ahead of time, as well.

Back in my pre-FM days, a jar of Pataks would have satisfied my butter chicken, or any Indian food cravings but the simmer sauces you buy at the supermarket – as always – are chock full of onion and thus unsuitable for most with FM. As if that wasn’t enough reason to make your own sauce, the pre-made sauces are really quite bland compared to a homemade sauce; not so here, I can only describe this dish as “vibrant.”

The original recipe is from a great YouTube channel called Eat East Indian. I highly recommend it if you are comfortable tinkering with recipes to FODMAP-ify them, as they have some delicious creations. I have made their recipe FODMAP friendly for all of you to try, with some other alterations as well – but of course I credit them with the amazing original recipe.

Just a note – I made a double batch below, so that’s why the amounts look so much bigger.

Notes:

  1. Garam masala can contain onion or garlic powder – it’s only a fraction of the 1/2 tsp. called for in this recipe so it might be tolerated by some. Use your own judgement and omit it if necessary.
  2. An onion is called for in the original recipe. I have replaced this with a pinch of asafoetida powder and 1/2 a cup of green chives but you could go back to the original version if you can tolerate onion.
  3. I included carrot and celery in this recipe for some added nutrition. Evgeny, if you’re reading this, don’t complain because you had no clue. 😛
  4. Make sure your asafoetida powder is cut with rice flour and not wheat (to prevent clumping) if you’re very sensitive to fructans or a coeliac.
  5. Butter isn’t high in lactose, as lactose is water soluble and most of it goes into buttermilk instead of the butter – however you could replace some or all of it with coconut butter.
  6. The cream and plain yoghurt can be replaced with lactose free versions if required.

Butter Chicken

Serves 4.

Part 1

  • 500 g chicken, diced into 2 cm cubes
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup plain yoghurt – optional

Combine the spices with the plain yoghurt (lactose free or normal) and then mix through the chicken pieces. Place everything in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 1 hour – overnight is best. If you want the spice flavours to come through more strongly at the end, or if you cannot get LF yoghurt, omit the yoghurt.

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Part 2

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch asafoetida powder
  • 1 celery stick, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic – to infuse butter
  • 1 tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 250 g /8.8 oz diced tomatoes – fresh or tinned

Prepare all your ingredients for part 2 beforehand; this makes the actual cooking process as simple as possible.

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Gently melt the butter over a low heat and add in the cumin seeds and asafoetida powder; simmer until fragrant, then add the diced carrots, celery, garlic and ginger and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. The carrots need to soften before they are blended. If you chose to include a diced onion, add it in with the carrots etc.

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Next, add in the tomatoes and cook for a further 3 minutes. Pick out the garlic cloves and spoon the contents of your pot into a blender (or use your immersion blender and then set the paste aside in a bowl – but there’s no way I’m doing that in my Le Creuset!) and puree the vegetables. The paste will be used as the sauce later on. This step can be done on the same day as part 3 but the flavours can really mingle if you make it ahead of time, such as the night before when you start your chicken marinating.

Part 3

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar or dextrose
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup diced green chives
  • 1/3 cup double cream – LF variety or normal
  • 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garam masala – if tolerated
  • Coriander leaves (cilantro) to garnish

Seal your pot and fry the bay leaves and ground cloves until fragrant. Take your chicken pieces that have been marinating – the longer, the better – and add them in; sear until fully sealed. Remove the bay leaves and pour in the paste. Mix well, then add in the salt, turmeric, paprika, brown sugar, cinnamon and chives and simmer for 30 minutes.

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Pour in the double cream and cook over a medium heat for 5 more minutes before adding in the fenugreek seeds, black pepper and garam masala; simmer for 10 minutes and it’s finished. Some recipes might call for a drop or two of red food colouring but really, I think it’s bright enough as it is and why add in something that is completely unnecessary if it’s only going to make it a little brighter?

If you are not serving it straight away, keep it on a low heat until it’s required.

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Serve with white rice and a garnish of coriander leaves (cilantro). You can serve the sauce and rice in separate dishes or create individual bowls – separately is more traditional but you can do whatever you’d like.

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It makes a delicious lunch if you store it in individual dishes that you can either refrigerate or freeze and take to work/school/wherever for the week.

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How to Make a Basic Meat/Bone Stock – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly

Making a stock is such a basic skill to have, yet it can translate to so many other dishes. Soups, sauces, stews, pie fillings – anything savoury can have its flavour boosted with a good stock.

But why should we bother making stock, you ask, when there are perfectly good bullion cubes and stock concentrates on the supermarket shelves? Firstly, these are often very high in sodium – although granted, you can get reduced salt stocks that can be quite flavourless – but there are also preservatives in store bought stocks/powders, they aren’t anywhere near as tasty, wouldn’t have as many nutrients and the big one… ONION.

I admit, you can now get onion and garlic free stock cubes – in Australia, at least, I haven’t seen them in the US at all – but, given all the health and flavour benefits of homemade stock, and seeing how easy it is to make, to me the choice is obvious. The only downside that I see is that our freezer is so small that we can’t make too much at once.

Notes:

  1. Onion and garlic – the fructans are water soluble, so some will leach out into the stock water. Some can tolerate it, others can’t. You can easily omit the onion, though, as you get a lot of flavour from other ingredients.
  2. Meat/bones – use an entire chicken or fish carcass, including the wings and skin (great flavour and you can skim unwanted fat off later); alternatively, use soup or marrow bones (the same thing) typically from a cow but lamb shanks or pork hock will also work – whatever you can get a good price on, go with it.
  3. White wine vinegar can be replaced with white vinegar, apple cider vinegar etc. It helps to draw nutrients and flavours out of the bones and vegetables.

Stock Flavour Variations

These are only suggestions, you do not need to use all at once and of course, if you like a flavour that is not included here, go ahead and add it in.

  • Chicken: onion, garlic, bay leaf, carrot, celery, chives, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme.
  • Beef: onion, garlic, basil, bay leaf, carrot, celery, chives, ginger, mint, oregano, rosemary, tarragon and thyme. Red wine also goes well with beef.
  • Lamb: onion, garlic, basil, bay leaf, carraway seeds, carrot, celery, coriander leaves (cilantro), coriander seeds, dill, marjoram, rosemary, sage and thyme.
  • Pork: onion, garlic, bay leaf, carraway seeds, carrot, celery, cumin seeds, dill, fennel bulb, fennel seeds, rosemary, sage and thyme.
  • Fish: onion, garlic, basil, bay leaf, carrot, celery, coriander leaves (cilantro), coriander seeds, fennel bulb, fennel seeds, ginger root, tarragon. White wine also goes well with fish/seafood.

Basic Meat/Bone Stock

  • Carcass of the chicken/fish or 3-4 “soup”/marrow bones that are about 10 cm in length
  • Optional – 1 onion, quartered
  • Optional – 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, quartered
  • 2 stalks of celery, cut into chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 lug olive oil/cooking oil of your choice
  • 2.0 L water
  • 1 dash white wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • Extras – for this chicken stock I used bay leaves, ground peppercorns, sage, rosemary, thyme

The following pictures were taken when I made a batch of chicken stock.

Heat the oil in your sauce pan and sear the bones, optional onion and garlic, celery and carrot until they have browned and a fond has developed on the bottom. The fond is the layer of brown that has stuck onto the base of the pot and it is a huge flavour bomb – just let this happen, because as soon as your pour in water, the layer will deglaze and dissolve, lending its flavours to the stock and amping up whatever dish you use the stock in.

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Once a good fond has developed, after 5-10 minutes of frying the meat and vegetables, pour in 2 litres of water and add in any extras of your choice, then bring it to the boil. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes, and spoon off the scum that develops if you would like a clear broth. This is the blood boiling – not everyone likes it, as it can impart a bitter flavour and cloud a stock, but some do. Whatever you choose to do is okay.

Reduce the pot to a simmer and leave it for at least 45 minutes, preferably 2 hours. The longer the pot simmers, the more intense the flavour will be and the more nutrients will leach from the bones and vegetables into the stock liquid. When you are about to remove it from the heat, taste a little and adjust flavours as required to suit your palate.

Place a heat-proof sieve over a heat proof bowl (this stuff is boiling hot) and pour the contents of the sauce pan over the top. The sieve will catch the solid ingredients. Remove the sieve and its contents and either discard them or if you have dogs, pick out the boiled bones, carrots and celery and blend them into a nutritious puree that your pups will love. Onions have been shown to cause anaemia in dogs, so be careful to pick out only the bones, carrot and celery.

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Once the stock has cooled, skim off any unwanted fat (this does contain flavour and nutritious substances as well but some either don’t like the taste, can’t tolerate the fat or are counting calories) and transfer the stock to a container to freeze right away if you won’t be using it in the next 1-2 days tops. Fish stock should be frozen if not being used within 24 hours. I like to freeze it in 2 cup measurements, as that is useful for makings soups and stews. Another idea is freezing it in ice cube trays, that way you can just flip them into a container and pick out as many as you like. Once thawed, the stock should be used within 24-48 hours or discarded – fish stock should only sit in the fridge for 24 hours.

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Since this photo was taken, we have begun using glass jars instead of plastic to freeze our stocks. Freezing glass is risky but I am not comfortable with plastics potentially leaching chemicals into the liquids – BPA free plastic containers are safe but make sure that the stock is completely at room temperature when you fill them.

We have Pyrex and canning jars, which are freezer safe; just make sure to leave about 20% empty space at the top to allow room for expansion when the stock freezes, because glass can crack and shatter in the freezer if its contents expand too much – be warned! Of course, I am not telling you that you have to use glass jars, just that this is what we do. You can make up your own mind. 🙂

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If you have dogs, don’t ditch the solids – pick out the onion and make a bone and vegetable slurry for them to enjoy with their meals. It’s nutritious and delicious; they’ll love you for it.

You can also follow the same principles to make a bone broth, which is full of nutrients and great for healing the gut – but I’ll cover that in another post.

Asafoetida – A Replacement for Onion & Garlic (Low Fructose)

Yesterday I went into Pike Place Market to (and don’t laugh at me here) take Bailey to see the city we’ve moved to. I know he’s a dog and all but I figured that we had dragged him literally half-way around the world and he hadn’t seen Seattle yet. It’s been 2 years. Plus it was a gorgeous day and who needs more of an excuse than that to go into Seattle to the markets and Fisherman’s Wharf?

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As you can see, we visited the markets and a few shops besides; Bails and Nellie were not only allowed in basically all of the stores that didn’t serve food but they also were given a treat in each one. Spoilt things. Seattle really is very dog friendly. Except for Sound Transit (a bus company) – for some reason dogs have to be crated to go on their buses, whereas King County Metro (the other bus company) has no rules other than you have to pay for a dog that won’t fit on your lap and one big dog per bus… just so you know.

Anyway, back to the Asafoetida, also known as Hing. It is an interesting spice, to say the least.

We visited the World Spice Merchants store, which is just behind Pike Place Market – again, the dogs were allowed in and were given treats – and while browsing, the words “onion and garlic flavours hiding within” popped out at me. This was exciting! While I can eat cooked onion and garlic with no issues, I am always looking for replacements to either put with my recipes here or just in case my FM changes and onions and garlic end up on my no-go list.

*Note* After further research on asafoetida, the powder is usually cut with a tiny amount of rice or wheat flour to prevent clumping. I emailed World Spice Market and their current batch (as of May 2013) contains wheat. If you’ve just got FM, this might be ok for you as you only use a pinch in any recipe; if you have Coeliacs, make sure you find a powder with rice flour only.

Asafoetida is made from the sap excreted from the stem and roots of the giant fennel plant, Ferula Assafoetida, which is dried and then ground into a powder. It cannot be eaten raw, as it can cause severe gastrointestinal upset.

However the dried, powdered form in which it can be purchased in America has been shown to alleviate:

  • Gastrointestinal upset and flatulence
  • Cold and flu symptoms
  • Yest infections
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Hysteria/insanity
  • Pulmonary issues such as bronchitis
  • Some contraceptive effects

References here and here.

It is very popular as a spice in Indian cuisine as well as soups and stews, due to the onion/garlic/leek taste (as well as a truffle flavour) that it can bring to a dish. It apparently pairs well with cauliflower and legumes.

Asafoetida

There can be side effects to Asafoetida, though. Apparently, it is quite efficacious with regards to flavour, so not much is required – it has the nickname “Devil’s Dung” due to its pungent odour when uncooked. I don’t think it smells as bad as that – at least the version that I bought doesn’t; it’s a bit like a strong onion powder smell.

Due to its potential contraceptive effects, it is recommended that women who are aiming to become pregnant, are pregnant or breast-feeding do not consume this spice as it could cause a miscarriage. It should also not be consumed by young children.

On that scary note, I’m going to experiment with it as a flavour enhancer in a few dishes, without intending to use it medicinally.

Does anybody else out there have any experience cooking with Asafoetida? I’d love to get some recommendations.