We're smack in the middle of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, and I am not ashamed to admit that it's challenging. The not eating all day is tough but the no coffee? Now THAT is the true test. Sometimes, I linger in the kitchen at work when I see someone making a cup of coffee in the hopes that the smell is enough to keep me going. Coffee through osmosis is a thing, y'all!
Some (most) days, the only thing that gets me through is planning out my evening meal in great detail. That's sort of a consistent theme from Ramadans past. I'm not talking about a general plan of what I'm going to have for dinner. Oh heck no. I actually make a list of the things I'm going to eat in the order I'm going to eat them. Not a mental list mind you. Not even a iPhone list. Oh no. This is a full on paper and pen list because the act of writing down my food choices on a yellow notepad convinces me that it's really going to happen. Try it, it works. Fasting folks, you can thank me later.
And this aforementioned list? There's no rhyme or reason to it. It's part inspiration and part madness because when you haven't eaten all day, your brain goes to all sorts of crazy food places as it gets closer and closer to eating time. Some days, the list looks something like chocolate, Doritos, chocolate, a cheeseburger, chocolate, and more chocolate. Other days, the list just has one word written in rapid succession like coffee, coffee, coffee. When I'm writing that list, I always think of this.
Every now and then, something crazy awesome takes form on the list. Take last week for example. There I was, writing my list in painstaking detail as per usual. I started with pizza because really, you can never go wrong with pizza. Then, I added pasta because hello, pasta! I crossed out pizza because I can eat a LOT of pasta and I want to be ready for that. Then I included tater tots because again, helloooo tater tots. Oh, and then butter chicken because obvs. I went back and crossed out tater tots because the babies tend to go nuts around fried potatoes and I'm still trying to instill healthy eating values blah blah blah. So all of a sudden, I'm staring at a list where pasta and butter chicken are sort of next to each other. Weird? Or genius?
It was clearly a sign from God and well, who am I to argue with signs, especially in Ramadan? So here you have it, Butter Chicken Pasta. Now for you skeptics, I know butter chicken is normally served on rice so I get your scrunched up facial expression. I too, love me some rice but as soon as I spooned myself a giant serving of this here pasta, I was hooked. The sauce was creamy enough to cling to the noodles and the butter just gave it this lovely richness. Oh and that fantastic char on the tandoori chicken? It's from my very own poor-man's-tandoor or as I affectionately call her, Casty, the cast iron grill pan.
And with a few days of Ramadan to go, I hope to spend more time reflecting and less time pining for coffee. But you know I'll still be making them food lists because clearly, I'm at my recipe best when I'm starving!
8 oz. uncooked spaghetti or pasta of your choice
5 tbs. butter
1/2 stick cinnamon
3 cardamom pods
5 whole black peppercorn
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ginger paste or 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 oz. tomato paste
1 cup half & half
1/3 cup water
Chicken Tikka ingredients
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in cubes
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 tsp. ginger past or 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
3/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
3/4 cup yogurt
In a Ziploc bag, add the chicken tikka ingredients and marinate in refrigerator overnight. The next day, heat a cast iron skillet (preferably a cast iron grill pan if you want those lovely char lines on your chicken) and add 1 tb. oil. When oil is hot, turn heat to high, add chicken pieces and grill until chicken is cooked about half way (you'll cook the chicken fully in the sauce so you don't want to cook it all the way now). Remove chicken from pan.
In a medium sized pot, heat butter until it melts and stops foaming. Turn heat to low and cinnamon, cardamom, and peppercorns. Cook for 3-4 minutes until butter is fragrant. Remove spices from the butter. To the butter, add all the ground spices and tomato paste. Cook for 1-2 minutes until you have a very fragrant paste. You may need to add some of your water at this point to prevent the paste from burning. Pour in the cream in 1/4 cup increments, mixing after each addition. Add the chicken. Cook on low heat for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked completely.
While you're cooking the butter chicken, in a separate pot, boil water and cook spaghetti. Drain spaghetti, top with butter chicken, and devour. Pat your list-making self on the back.