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Recipe Swap: Murgh Makhani (butter chicken), orange cream chip cookies, Robert Joffrey chili

For the adventurous or the die-hard home cook, what better time to take a deep dive into a an old family recipe?

Butter chicken made by the author’s mother along with white rice, yogurt and the author’s mother’s cilantro-based chutney.
Butter chicken made by the author’s mother along with white rice, yogurt and the author’s mother’s cilantro-based chutney.
Rummana Hussain/Sun-Times

Home life — working, taking care of the kids, figuring out the spring garden, getting to all those DIY projects we’ve put off for years, binge-watching into the wee hours, coming home from an essential frontline job.

The coronavirus stay-at-home mandate, through May 30 for Illinois, has upended our lives on so many levels.

For the adventurous or the die-hard home cook, what better time to take a deep dive into a an old family recipe? And what’s better than a good old-fashioned recipe swap to share our favorite dishes — from appetizers to desserts?

Here are some recipes you might want to try.

Whenever friends ask me what my favorite Indian restaurant is, I tell them I don’t have one. I have my mom, my older sister and some family friends whose cooking is far superior to any South Asian cuisine I have reluctantly paid for. Anwari Haque — known to us as Anwari Aunty — is among the best cooks I know and often shares tips and recipes with my mom. Roughly two decades ago, she made a version of the butter chicken below and told my mom it was an easy dish to make and that the “kids” would love it. Even though both my mom and Anwari Aunty agree that butter chicken is “Indian lite” and less of a culinary challenge, they still make it in a pinch or during a pandemic for their mildly spoiled adult children and grandchildren. — Rummana Hussain, Assistant Metro Editor, Chicago Sun-Times

MURGH MAKHANI (butter chicken)

Ingredients:

• 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cubed

• 1 1/4 stick of butter

• 3 onions, diced

• 3 tomatoes, pureed

• 2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste

• 1 pint heavy cream

• 1 to 2 teaspoons or more red chili powder, dependent on preferred spice level

• 1 to 2 teaspoons ground black pepper

• 1 to 2 teaspoons garam masala

• 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin

• 1 to 2 teaspoons coriander powder

• 2 to tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

• 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

• Salt to taste

• Olive oil for frying

• Vinegar to soak chicken

Directions:

  1. Soak chicken in a bowl with vinegar for 2 minutes. Drain excess vinegar.

2. In a large wok or cooking pot, melt the butter on low heat. Add the chicken, turn up the heat to medium. Cook until chicken is slightly brown. Slot out the chicken pieces and set aside.

3. Puree the tomatoes in a food processor or blender.

4. Add a pinch of olive oil to the wok or pot with remaining butter and turn heat on low. Add the onions, raise heat to medium and cook the onions until they are slightly translucent. Add the chili powder, black pepper, garam masala, cumin, coriander powder, garlic, ginger and salt. Cook 5 to 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook the onion and tomato mixture for 5 to 8 minutes. Slowly add the heavy cream and cook for 3 to 5 more minutes. Add chicken and cook for 3 to 5 minutes more. Serve while hot.

Orange Cream Chip Cookies

When our son was in the Air Forces he mailed home a box of orange chocolate from Belgium it was delicious. — Marti Comstock, La Grange

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 stick unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 3 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Lightly grease cookie sheets

3. Beat butter, sugar, cream cheese in a large bowl mixed. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add juice and rind.

4. Blend in flour and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.

5. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookies sheets.

6. Bake 350 12 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Cool on racks.

Robert Joffrey’s Family Chili

Robert Joffrey’s famous chili is served up by Joffrey artist Joanna Wozniak.
Robert Joffrey’s famous chili is served up by Joffrey artist Joanna Wozniak.
Joanna Wozniak

Joffrey Ballet Company artist Joanna Wozniak loves to cook, and recently decided to make Robert Joffrey’s famous family chili recipe. The story behind the recipe can be found in Robert Joffrey’s biography, “The Joffrey Ballet: Robert Joffrey and the Making of an American Dance Company,” (Scribner, 1996). Sasha Anawalt titled the first chapter “The Chili Recipe.” In short…Robert Joffrey’s father, Joseph Joffrey, was an immigrant of Afghanistan. Joseph and his brother moved to the U.S. in 1916, settled in Seattle, where they got jobs selling chili out of pushcarts ,which became wildly successful. Joseph Joffrey opened the Rainbow Chili Parlor — where there was a dance studio upstairs. This is pretty much where Robert Joffrey grew up! — Joanna Wozniak

ROBERT JOFFREY CHILI

Ingredients

For the spice mixture:

  • 6 ancho or pasilla chilies
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spices
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 bay leaves

For the chili:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup halved, seeded black olives

Directions

1. Toast chilies lightly in skillet. Soak in water 15 minutes.

2. Remove stems and seeds; scrape flesh from skin and puree; makes about 4 teaspoons chili paste.

3. Mix with curry powder, pickling spices, cumin seeds, coriander, cayenne, cardamom, sage, garlic salt, paprika and bay leaves. Set aside.

4. Fry onion in oil until soft. Add garlic and ground beef and cook, stirring constantly to break up lumps.

5. Add tomatoes, bell pepper and spice mixture and cook 1 hour.

6. Before serving, stir in olives. Makes six servings.