I have been craving Indian food lately and it has been an excellent opportunity to try out some new recipes and dig out some old favorites. It has been an adventure, trying different blends of spices, different cooking techniques, and working out what I like and what needs tweaking.
Chicken tikka masala is one of my favorite dishes to order at Indian restaurants. When I try a new place I order the chicken tikka masala and use it as my yard stick because if the chicken tikka masala is good then there is hope for the rest of the menu. The spices must be balanced with the rich cream sauce. It can’t be too tangy or too taste too heavily of one spice over another.
It took me a while to perfect a recipe that has the right balance of spices and tomato. I can’t speak to how authentic it is, I am no expert in Indian cuisine, but, I do know what tastes good and this certainly does.
Did you know that chicken tikka masala has been called the national dish of England? It’s true. Chicken tikka masala is not an authentic Indian dish, but one created to appeal to the British love of curry and the British love of gravy. The story goes that a customer in an Indian restaurant complained that the chicken was dry and wanted some gravy. The chef, a resourceful fellow, created a tomato and cream gravy spices with curry seasonings. The customer so loved it and so did the rest of the world.
This recipe is adapted from Cooks Illustrated, which is not available for free on their site, but if you pay for the subscription you can access it. I got when it was free and have played with the spices and ingredients liberally.
I hope you enjoy my take on this popular dish.
Chicken Tikka Masala Serves 6
Chicken Tikka Marinade:
2 lb. chicken breast
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup plain yogurt
In a bowl add the yogurt, garlic, ginger, and spices. Mix to combine.
Cut the chicken into long strips and trim off any excess fat.
Mix the chicken into the yogurt mixture. Refrigerate for one hour, or up to one day.
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, about 1 1/2 cup
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp ginger
1 jalapeno pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp tandoori
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp vindaloo
1/4 tsp fenugreek
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
In a food processor add the onion, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, tomato paste, and spices. Mix until the mixture is very fine. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to one day.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill, or broil, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F. Dice into bite sized chunks and set aside.
In a heavy pot heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the curry paste and cook until it darkens slightly, about five minutes. Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook for five minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream then stir in the chicken.
Serve with steamed rice, fresh naan, and garnish with the cilantro.