Eats shoots & leaves
Butter masala is a creamy Indian dish of paneer with a smooth tomato, butter and cashew sauce. I'm using tofu because it's easier to source in Irish supermarkets than paneer. There are some other merciful swaps to Irishify the dish, but the end result is surprisingly similar to the original (OK, maybe it's more Bantry than Bombay). Adults can replace the list of spices with the more traditional garam masala.
My boys are not mad about curries, but this version of butter masala is soft, sweet and velvety, which shuts up even the faddiest of playdates.Admittedly, I sneak some peanut butter in there, too.
It's not spicy either, or pumped with obvious chunks of vegetables. The trick is to chop the tofu up very small. Serve it alongside rice and watch their dimples levitate. My little boys think it "tastes like chicken."
Serves 6 kids
You will need:
100g cashew nuts
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoon butter or ghee
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 small finger fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 small finger fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 x 400g tin tomatoes
2 teaspoons maple syrup
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon peanut butter (optional)
250g organic tofu, chopped into small cubes
1 Soak the cashew nuts in cold water overnight, or for a minimum of five hours. Drain them, discarding the soaking liquid.
2 In a large, heavy-based pot, saute the chopped onion in butter or ghee, whichever you are using, over a low heat until the onion is soft. Then tumble in the chopped garlic, the sliced ginger, the sliced turmeric, the ground cumin and the sweet paprika, and whack up the heat. Stir for one minute. Any longer, and the garlic will turn too bitter for a child's delicate palate.
3 Now add the soaked cashews, the tinned tomatoes, the maple syrup and the lime juice. Allow the mixture to putter for 5 minutes, then add the peanut butter, if you are using it. Blitz the sauce into a smooth sauce using a NutriBullet or a blender, but watch out for hot splashes.
4 Return the sauce to the pot and parachute in your sneaky cubes of tofu. Cook for a further 10 minutes before plating up. I like to store this butter masala in individual portions in the freezer, ready to rock during chaotic weeks when it's tricky to find time to cook a nourishing family meal. To defrost, take the butter masala out one day in advance and allow it to defrost inside the fridge. Heat it to a bubbling boil, and plate up your favourite way. My chaps love to eat it with crunchy poppadoms and boiled potatoes on the days we give rice a break.