12/13/2012 04:11 EST | Updated 02/12/2013 05:12 EST

Butter chicken lasagna recipe nets Ontario man grand prize in TV contest

TORONTO - A Brampton, Ont., man is $250,000 richer after his recipe received the grand prize on the Food Network Canada show "Recipe to Riches."

Rick Matharu received the highest number of online votes from Canadians for his Butter Chicken Lasagna on the season finale of the competitive reality series Wednesday night.

"I just want to thank Canada for this amazing opportunity. It's a dream come true for me and it wouldn't be possible without the support of Canada, so thank you," a jubilant Matharu said from his home Thursday.

The field was narrowed down to one finalist in each of seven food categories. Matharu was up against Jason Keary of Nerepis, N.B., with his Honey Cheese Pastries; Victoria's Stephen Childs with his Chipotle Chili Bites; Tracey Rigden of Etobicoke, Ont., with her Dulce de Leche Brownies; Vancouver's Jackie Koh with her Smoky Korean Meatballs; Don Harquail of Burnaby, B.C., with his Golden Toffee Nut Gems; and Cathy Ferguson of Gloucester, Ont., with her Montreal Deli Dip.

Each category winner received $25,000.

Matharu's winning recipe and the other category winners' recipes have been developed into President's Choice products and are available in select Loblaw stores across the country.

The butter chicken lasagna was inspired by the Indian-Canadian fusion dishes he loves to prepare.

Matharu, who was born and raised in Brampton, watched his mother while growing up — "she's a great cook herself" — and started cooking about 10 years ago. "I love experimenting in the kitchen. It's like a science lab for me," he said, adding he likes to put his own twist on his mother's recipes.

"For example, if a young kid's growing up and they don't want to eat Indian or Punjabi food I'll figure out a way how you can introduce it to them, just like my mom did, because growing up we didn't always like to eat Indian food and she would always throw it into ordinary cooking and that's how she introduced us to Indian food and that's what I want to do nationwide, for Canada."

Matharu is a photographer, writes a food blog ( and hosts a radio show with his wife featuring Punjabi-style music known as Bhangra. He hopes to put some of his winnings toward a recently purchased house as well as taking some culinary training.

The show, hosted by former "The Bachelor" star Jesse Palmer, was judged by Laura Calder, host of "French Food at Home"; Tony Chapman, founder and CEO of the advertising agency Capital C; and Dana McCauley, culinary director of Janes Family Foods. Galen Weston, executive chairman of Loblaw Companies Limited, was a guest judge.

The season finale of "Recipe to Riches" is being rebroadcast on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET/PT on Global TV or it can be viewed online starting Friday at

Here is Matharu's winning recipe.

Butter Chicken Lasagna

Preparation time: 60 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours 20 minutes (includes cooking time for butter chicken sauce, tandoori marinade and vegetables as well as the baking time for the completed lasagna)

Tandoori Marinade

250 ml (1 cup) plain yogurt

45 ml (3 tbsp) fresh lemon juice

30 ml (2 tbsp) tandoori spice blend

15 ml (1 tbsp) dried fenugreek

5 ml (1 tsp) kosher salt

2 ml (1/2 tsp) freshly ground black pepper

2 ml (1/2 tsp) hot pepper flakes

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 750 g/1 1/2 lb)

Butter Chicken Sauce

45 ml (3 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil

5 ml (1 tsp) unsalted butter

5 ml (1 tsp) cumin seeds

250 ml (1 cup) diced red onion

30 ml (2 tbsp) minced garlic

5 ml (1 tsp) turmeric

5 ml (1 tsp) minced ginger root

30 ml (2 tbsp) tandoori spice blend

7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) hot pepper flakes

250 ml (1 cup) water

1 can (796 ml/28 oz) crushed tomatoes

325 ml (1 1/3 cups) 35 per cent whipping cream

22 ml (1 1/2 tbsp) fenugreek, crushed

15 ml (1 tbsp) granulated sugar


45 ml (3 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil

15 ml (1 tbsp) unsalted butter

250 ml (1 cup) diced red onion

15 ml (1 tbsp) minced garlic

500 ml (2 cups) sliced cremini mushrooms

250 ml (1 cup) diced sweet green pepper

15 ml (1 tbsp) kosher salt

2 ml (1/2 tsp) garam masala

2 ml (1/2 tsp) freshly ground black pepper


15 oven-ready dry lasagna noodles

250 ml (1 cup) ricotta cheese

500 ml (2 cups) grated mozzarella cheese

4 basil leaves, shredded

Tandoori marinade: In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, tandoori spice blend, fenugreek, salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes until well combined. Add chicken; toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.

Heat oven to 200 C (400 F). Scrape marinated chicken onto rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in centre of oven for about 25 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven; let stand for 15 minutes. Cut chicken into 5-mm (1/4-inch) cubes. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Butter chicken sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds; toast, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add onion, garlic and turmeric; cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until onions are softened. Add ginger, tandoori spice blend and hot pepper flakes; cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Stir in water, tomatoes, cream, fenugreek and sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook for 20 minutes. Add cooked chicken cubes; simmer for another 15 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare vegetables: In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add mushrooms and green pepper; cook, stirring, for 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add salt, garam masala and black pepper; cook for another 2 minutes. Set aside.

To assemble lasagna: Heat oven to 200 C (400 F). Spread one-third of the butter chicken sauce over bottom of a 3-l (13-by-9-inch) glass baking dish. Arrange 5 noodles over top. Dollop with ricotta; top with vegetables. Arrange 5 more noodles over top. Spread another one-third sauce all over. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella. Top with remaining noodles. Spread remaining sauce all over. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Cover loosely with foil.

Bake in centre of oven for 45 minutes; remove foil. Sprinkle with basil. Return to oven for another 5 minutes or until bubbling and golden on top. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

Source: Recipe courtesy of Food Network Canada.