Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chicken Tikka Masala (चिकन टिक्का मसाला)

I know, I know...I've gone WAY too long between posts again. It's been insanely hot and muggy here; so hot that I've had absolutely NO urge to cook. So, there's been a lot of salads and sandwiches this past week, and nothing really "blog-worthy". It's still hot here, but I'm ready to get over it, get back in the kitchen, and cook REAL food again!

Chicken tikka masala is simply chicken tikka (tikka = roasted chicken), served in a spicy masala (masala = mixture of spices) sauce. The chicken is marinated in yogurt & spices, baked in a traditional tandoor oven, and then the sauce is made from a tomato & cream base. There is no "set" recipe for chicken tikka masala; some recipe use coconut milk, and many recipes are VERY similar to butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani

This dish is delicate and somewhat mild, yet full of amazing flavors; many people have a misconception about Indian food, assuming that it's all incredibly spicy. However, most of my favorite curries and Indian dishes, from kormas to saags, are pretty tame. If you want a spicier dish, leave in some of the Serrano pepper's seeds and ribs. For an extra mild dish, leave out the pepper altogether!

Served with fresh, warm naan and steamed basmati rice, this chicken tikka masala is easy to prepare, hearty, and SUPER tasty! 

Chicken Tikka Masala
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain full-fat yogurt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp garlic paste
1 Tbsp ginger paste
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
2 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp ginger paste
1 Serrano chili pepper, seeds & ribs removed, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Prepare the chicken: Combine the cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt; sprinkle on both sides of the chicken, pressing the rub into the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 30-60 minutes in the refrigerator.

Whisk the yogurt, oil, garlic paste and ginger paste together; set aside.

Prepare the masala: Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Add the garlic and ginger pastes along with the Serrano chili, tomato paste and garam masala. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until fragrant.

Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cream; return to a simmer.

Remove from heat and cover to keep warm. 

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Dip the rubbed chicken into the yogurt mixture, coating the meat with a thick layer. Place on a wire-rack set above a baking sheet or roasting pan. Broil the chicken, about 6-8" from the heating element, until the center reaches 160 degrees and the surface is lightly charred, about 15 minutes, flipping after about 7 minutes.

So, um, the broiler that usually incinerates everything it touches? It decided to go on strike. So, I pan-seared the chicken in a cast iron skillet instead. It worked well, but the recipe works a LOT better with broiling or even grilling the chicken.

Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then cut into bite-sized pieces. Stir into the warm masala. Serve atop basmati rice with naan, garnished with fresh cilantro.

1 comment:

  1. I heart Chicken Tikka Masala so much. Fun Fact, did you know this dish was actually invented in Britain? It's one of Britain's most popular dishes! I need to go there some day and try it...