Easy Butter Chicken

I’m so behind my Community Kitchen posts due to the done time.

The South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors celebrated the Vasakhi in the month of April by making an Indian Feast. Vasakhi (or Vaisakhi) is an ancient harvest festival in Punjab. It also marks the beginning of a new solar year, and new harvest season.

Joyce and Sydney partnered again to make this Easy Butter Chicken.

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Charlene prepared a menu of Indian feast which consist of Butter Chicken, Roti, Okra Sabzi and a Samosa style Potatoes and Peas side dish. It was a wonderful meal.

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Stella decorated the dining table with the colours of the India flag. The setting adds festivities to the Vasakhi festival. Even the flowers are of the same colour, how thoughtful.

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The South Arm Cooking Club for seniors also had another thing to celebrate on that day.  They had a few minutes of fame on TV as the senior’s kitchen was filmed and interviewed by the Shaw crews.  The seniors kitchen was featured on the Shaw program ”Express’ on the weekend of May 1.  Unfortunately, I could not get a copy of the program to show it here.

This recipe is adapted from Allrecipes.com and Tahera Rawji and it serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup plan yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayene pepper

Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup cashew nuts, ground in a food processor (optional)

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Here is an excerpt from ‘The Spice of Life’ on cumin shared by Stella:

Cumin is the seed of a small plant related to parsley but found in hot climates, especially North Africa, India and the Americas.  The seeds are boat-shaped and resemble caraway seeds, but are lighter in colour and have tiny bristles.  They should be roasted before being ground, but can then be used to spice up a whole range of dishes including curries, stews and rills.  Cumin is very commonly used in Mexican, Spanish, Indian or Middle Eastern cooking.  A word of warning, however, go easy on cumin as half a teaspoon is ample for a family of four.

Cumin has long been believed to help people suffering from disorders of the digestive tract including heartburn, nausea and diarrhea, probably due to its stimulating the production of pancreatic enzymes.  Cumin is also believed to have important anti-cancer properties, due to its ability to neutralize cancer-causing “free-radicals” and by enhancing the liver’s detoxification enzymes.

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Meok Ja Gol (MJG) Korean Barbeque Restaurant on Kingsway and Nelson, Burnaby

Updated: 15th Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

I bet you will find Meok Ja Gol (MJG) interesting enough to want to check it out — we did.

Even though I work one short block away from MJG, I had never paid any attention to it.

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This is because MJG is hidden in a recess from Kingway in Burnaby.  The best way to find it is to know that it is located east of Nelson on Kingsway.  But then the address is not really Kingsway … kind of weird I know.  If you are driving and want to get to MJG, the entrance is on the short road almost parallel to Kingsway called Newton St.  Forget what I just said … just drive to the back lane on Kingsway!

I feel for MJG.  They are a very unique and interesting restaurant and yet the location sucks.  What a shame.

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MJG is so authentic Korean that they can hardly speak English at all. They were so authentic that they even have loads of Korean magazines and newspapers neatly stacked for the customer’s use.  Even the TV was playing Korean serial drama.  They asked if we wanted to switch to another channel but we told them we’re fine … Suanne loves Korean love drama with dashing young handsome Korean actors.  LOL!

Suanne and I went before 5PM … the place was empty at that time.  Actually, MJG had only a couple of tables taken the whole time we were there.  We like the cleanliness of MJG and also the rustic villagey feel to it.

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They brought us some hot tea in a plastic container just as we got settled down.  I assume that Korean restaurants commonly serves tea this way.

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They have a really big menu … 16 pages of glossy pages with lots of pictures. Even their take out menu is printed in high gloss and comes in a 16 page booklet.  You can’t beat that, can you?  If there is an award for the best take out menu, MJG will win hands down.

Without even bothering with the rest of the menu, Suanne and I already know what we wanted.  It is on page #1 … the one thing that MJG is known for … the MJG Dinner BBQ Combo.  Read on … this is NOT any kind of Korean BBQ you normally see around.  This one is high tech.  LOL!

Ordering is simple:

  • For 2-3 people: $49.95 with 12 (best) items
  • For 4-5 people: $99.95 with 13 (better) items
  • For 6-7 people: $149.95 with 17 (bestest) items.

With this combo, you don’t need to order anything else.  There are more than enough food for everyone — trust me!

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We were warned that it will take at least 30 minutes to prepare.  Sure, we could wait said … we had all the time in the world that afternoon.  I was actually quite pleased with the wait because it meant that good food cannot be rushed.

Since everything is Korean, it was hard to entertain ourselves during the long wait.  If you go, bring along a book or something.  Let’s talk a bit about ho hum matters.  OK … for one, they have one of those wireless service buttons on each table.  I was not sure initially what it is because there is no icon or something to indicate what it is.  I guess this also acts as a panic button of sorts in case the BBQ flares up.

I can’t get used to Korean chopsticks.  They are so flat and narrow that it’s hard to get a grip.  Japanese and Chinese chopsticks are easier to handle.  Also, you will notice that Korean spoons have very long handles.  I think there is a practical reason for it but am not sure why … anyone knows?

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The above is their high tech BBQ computerized device (their brochure said so!).  It was pretty interesting.  It is a complete eating system designed from the ground up not just for table top charcoal BBQ but also for soup, etc!  Read on … you will know what I mean.

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This is what the wait was about … the charcoal.  They need 30 minutes to heat it up.  It was a pretty glow-y sight … and very hot.  I can feel the heat radiating from where we were sitting.

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They do everything for you.  When they left the charcoal by the side of the table I thought I am supposed to handle this myself!  They opened up the grill and put in the two baskets of charcoal.

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Underneath the charcoal is a tray of water.  I guess the water serves a dual purpose of moderating the heat and also to prevent the entire BBQ’ing cavity from getting too dry.

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The delicious looking meat is put on skewers specially to rotate at a constant speed in the BBQ machine.  Our combo included beef ribs, beef ribeye, chicken and prawns.  Mind you, I am not even half way there on this blog entry!

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