Monday, November 7, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala was the first thing I ever ate at an Indian restaurant, so it's no surprise it was the first Indian dish I made at home. I'm no authority on Indian cookery, so my ignorance leaves me to be guided solely by my taste buds. I've found one of the great things about Indian food is that it allows me to experiment and play around in the kitchen.

There has always been some mystery surrounding the origin of chicken tikka masala. Most people think it's an authentic Indian dish, but after doing some research, I discovered that it may have been created in Scotland or England as recently as the 1950s or 60s. However, some still argue it originated in the Punjab region of South Asia. While there is much discrepancy as to the source of this classic dish, we can all agree that it tastes good!  

I love this recipe. The sauce is rich, creamy, and even better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to meld. It's a fun dish to cook for company; you can prepare it the night before and simply reheat it when your guests arrive. I guarantee they'll be impressed, especially when they take their first bite! 

Slightly adapted from Saveur Magazine, Issue 123

1 tbsp. ground turmeric
4 tsp. garam masala
6 cloves garlic, crushed
One 2½ inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped, plus extra julienned strips for garnish
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and chopped (you can leave the seeds and veins in for added heat)
One 28oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, un-drained (or fresh tomatoes)
2½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1½  inch cubes
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
Kosher salt, to taste
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tbsp. paprika
2 medium-sized yellow onions, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream or coconut cream
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a blender or food processor, puree turmeric, 2 tsp. garam masala, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and ¼ cup water.  Put paste into a small bowl and set aside.

In the same blender, puree tomatoes and place in another bowl and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine 2 tbsp. paste mixture with chicken, yogurt, and salt.  Cover chicken with plastic wrap and let marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, turn oven on to broil.  Once the chicken has marinated, transfer to a foil-lined sheet pan and broil until cooked, 6-8 minutes, stirring once to keep from sticking. Once cooked, cover with foil and set aside.

Heat butter in a 6 qt. saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add coriander and cumin and toast for 4-6 minutes.  Add paprika and onions and cook until soft, about 6-8 minutes.  Add remaining paste and brown for 5-6 minutes.  Add tomatoes, cook for 2 minutes more.  Stir in cream and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, 6-8 minutes.  Stir in remaining garam masala and chicken.  Season generously with salt to taste.  Garnish with julienned strips of ginger and cilantro and serve with basmati rice.  

Yield: 4 servings

  • Traditionally, the chicken would be cooked in a tandoor oven, but in my NYC apartment, the broiler becomes the next best thing. 

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