When Daksha Narsing first moved to Williams Lake, B.C. from England in the early 1990s, the Indian dishes she cooked for her husband quickly got popular among locals.

"My neighbour came running one day and said, 'What is smelling so good? You're driving me crazy!'" Narsing told North by Northwest host Sheryl MacKay.

"So I showed her what I was cooking and she said, 'You have to teach me how to do this.'"

Soon Narsing was teaching cooking classes in the community — and when more people wanted to get their hands on her recipes she started packaging spices in baby bottle liners, with recipes attached.

Daksha

Daksha Narsing and her husband Bhaskar preparing butter chicken. (Sheila Peacock/CBC)

Now Narsing and her husband run Daksha's Gourmet Spices, offering a line of mixes, blends and spices for classic Indian dishes.

She's also published a number of cookbooks, based on recipes that came from her family's African, Indian and British roots.

Narsing shared her popular butter chicken with ginger-garlic masala recipe with North by Northwest.

Butter chicken

Creamy curry made with chicken, half-and-half cream and yogurt.

Ingredients for 6 servings

2 teaspoons ginger-garlic masala [see below]
1½ teaspoons garam masala
1½ teaspoons thana jeeroo
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ pounds chicken pieces, cubed
3 tablespoons butter or ghee
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup half-and-half cream
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Method:

  1. Mix ginger-garlic masala, garam masala, thana jeeroo, salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder with olive oil to make a spice paste.
  2. Add chicken and mix in spice paste until chicken pieces are evenly coated. Marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Heat butter or ghee in a pot on medium heat and add chopped onions. Sauté until lightly browned.
  4. Add marinated chicken and stir well. Cover and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken pieces are thoroughly cooked.
  5. Add half-and-half cream and cook for five minutes. Stir occasionally.
  6. Add plain yogurt. Stir. Cook for five minutes stirring continuously. If the curry curdles, continue stirring until the curry has smoothed out.
  7. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Options:

  • For a lower calorie Butter Chicken, use zero-fat yogurt and substitute olive oil for ghee or butter.
  • For a more decadent Butter Chicken replace half-and-half cream with full cream and use 3 per cent yogurt.

Ginger-garlic masala

Mixture of fresh ginger, garlic and green chillies, chopped in a chopper until it becomes a paste.  

Ingredients: 

1 cup fresh garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup fresh ginger, peeled
3 fresh green chillies (serrano or cayenne) 
¼ teaspoon coarse salt 

Method:

  1. Place garlic, ginger, green chillies and salt in a chopper or food processor. Blend until masala is a fine paste.
  2. Fill small freezer bags with small amounts of ginger-garlic masala. Seal each bag and flatten so that the masala is about ⅛-inch thick. Store in the freezer.
  3. When you require ginger-garlic masala, break off the amount you need and place the masala back in the freezer.

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: Butter chicken with ginger garlic masala recipe from Daksha's Gourmet Kitchen