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I recently made Sanjeev Kapoor's butter chicken and found the taste too acidic/tomatoey. It was tasty but it lacked the authentic butter chicken flavor. This was surprising to me considering the amount of spices called for. I followed the recipe nearly to a tee.

My leading theories are:

  1. did not cook tomatoes long enough (cooked about 15 min)
  2. did not cook tomato puree long enough (cooked about 15 min)
  3. too many tomatoes (8-10, followed by 2 cups tomato puree)

Any thoughts?

  • Welcome to the site! I don't understand your question, if you find the recipe too tomatoey then you want to reduce the amount of tomato in it, but you allude to spices. Are you asking about the tomato, spices or something else? – GdD Jun 11 at 11:31
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    I wouldn't assume that the original wasn't tomatoey, it calls for 10 tomatoes plus 2 cups of puree! It's very possible that came out exactly as intended, if that's the case you didn't do anything wrong, the result is simply not to your taste. – GdD Jun 11 at 11:40
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    I would have to respectfully disagree with the assumption that the original was also tomatoey. – BigBrownBear00 Jun 11 at 12:06
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    "Tomato puree" has massively different meanings around the world. Two cups [a PINT!!!] of it in the UK would be almost inedible, & probably as bitter as all heck if you didn't fry it off first. UK puree in that kind of recipe would need about a tablespoon or so. – Tetsujin Jun 11 at 16:20
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    & yet we don't know where you are, nor which type you may have used. – Tetsujin Jun 12 at 16:36
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Any time you find a tomato based food item "too tomatoey" you're more than likely tasting the acidity of the tomato products. I always add a pinch of sweetener to any tomato based dish I make. And why you often hear of somebody's secret ingredient in a chili cook off to be something with sugar in it like peanut butter or chocolate or honey. Start with a teaspoon of honey, sugar, brown sugar, agave nectar, etc, and go from there. Also, try using coconut milk as the cream butter chicken recipes call for, as that may also alter the taste to conform to what you are accustomed to.

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I used to always have this problem cooking tomato-based curries. To balance out tomato-ness, you either need something bland like dal, something with body and sweetness like onion (I also usually add a little palm jaggery or coconut sugar to wet curries and other sauces that have tomatoes), or some oily fatty creamy rich stuff (or all of them :D). I watched the video and I noticed that the tomatoes he used were really dry, and the tomato puree he used was thin (not very concentrated), so if you have juicy tomatoes and concentrated tomato puree you should probably use less. If you want to make the dish lower in fatty ingredients like butter, oil, yogurt and cream, you need to reduce the quantity of tomatoes to avoid it tasting too acidic.

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I researched quite a bit and found that the longer you cook tomatoes the more you cook out the tomatoey flavor. Cooking 8-10 fresh tomatoes for fifteen minutes is not nearly enough. It needs to be cooked for at least 45 min if not 1-2 hours. That reduces it to near a paste and then you lose that tomatoey flavor.

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  • so that's what you did? can you explain how did you get to this conclusion? – Luciano Jun 12 at 13:49
  • Yes - I did this. I researched quite a bit and found that the longer you cook tomatoes the more you cook out the tomatoey flavor. Cooking 8-10 fresh tomatoes for fifteen minutes is not nearly enough. It needs to be cooked for at least 45 min if not 1-2 hours. That reduces it to near a paste and then you lose that tomatoey flavor. – BigBrownBear00 Jun 12 at 13:56
  • right, then edit your answer and add that, so other people can learn from you :) – Luciano Jun 12 at 14:04
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There are two variations in tomatoes. One is highly acidic and another one is sweeter. I generally find tomatoes which are not elongated but not round comes with sweet notes.

Tomatoes to butter chicken are added to balance sweet and sour. If your sauce happens to be of more tomato flavour make sure you try to cook puree in oil before adding spices. Once you see tomatoes with no raw flavour, you can add spices and chicken pieces.

To keep the consistency of the sauce, reduce the number of tomatoes and add 5-6 cashew kernels to make a thick sauce.

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  • This recipe calls for tomatoes added in two phases. Fresh tomatoes cooked down and a puree added later. Spices go in the former step. Which one would you cook longer? – BigBrownBear00 Jun 11 at 12:37
  • I follow this simple recipe. Heat some butter. Add a bay leaf or two and one or two slit green chillies. Next comes pureed onion. Fry till it turns brown. Next, I add ginger and garlic paste, fry for 20 seconds and then add my pureed tomatoes. I will cook it till I see oil oozing out of tomatoes and then use my spices and chicken. So, I use tomatoes only one in a pureed form. – Mithun Jun 11 at 16:56

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