Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is a dish with vague origins. You'd think with such a name that it would have come straight from the Middle East, but more likely it came about as a variation of curry sometime in the last half-century. That 50 years was apparently enough time to firmly place it at the top of British restaurant picks. It's unofficially called 'Britain's National Dish'. Any legit Brits want to substantiate this for me?

I first made this for dinner a couple of years ago. It immediately became one of my Top 5 Recipes for my family dinners! I love the taste, the fresh, natural ingredients, and the simplicity of preparation! It might look like a long list of ingredients, but if you utilize a 'mise en place', then it goes together really fast.

Lately I've been using crushed tomatoes canned from my garden last summer. Oh man. I'm going to bottle a zillion pints next year!! I can't believe how fabulously yummy it makes dishes!!

I vary the chicken I use according to necessity. If I need to use chicken breasts from the freezer, I make sure I brine them for an hour or so before using. Most often I use chicken tenders from Costco. The ginormous breasts-from-a-box from the local grocery stores are driving me crazy!! No way can chicken naturally be so HUGE!! Hormones BAD!! Sadly, I have several pounds left in my freezer I'm trying to use up. Sigh.

So back to the tenders: These don't need to brine, and they cook much faster. In fact, sometimes I cheat and season them frozen, and they end up being half-frozen by the time I broil. Seems to work just fine in a pinch!

Remember--DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED by the length of the recipe! It's simple stuff!

(adapted from Americas Test Kitchen)
serves 4-6

2 pounds bonless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (vary to your preference of spicyness)
1 teaspoon table salt (if you brine, use half)

1 cup plain, whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced or pressed garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups onion--diced small
2 teaspoons garlic--minced or pressed
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 jalapeno--ribs and seeds removed (you can use more, but I would try it at this level first. Once I used a serrano and hoo--eee!! I like spice, but I also like to be able to taste my food!)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (freeze unused portion of can in a ziploc--smoosh it flat so you can just break off peices to use in other dishes!)
1 tablespoon garam masala (you can make your own, but McCormicks blend is pretty dang good!)
28-32 ounces crushed tomatoes (make sure they are plain, not Italian style)
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup chopped cilantro (omit if you don't like)

1 1/2 cups Basmati rice--cooked to package directions

Combine the cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in a small prep bowl. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the spice mixture. Cover and refrigerate 30-6- minutes. In medium bowl mix: yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger. Set aside.

In a large cast iron pan or dutch oven pan, heat oil for sauce. When shimmering, add the chopped onion. Cook, stirring until onions soften and start to brown. Add garlic, ginger, jalapeno, tomato paste, and garam masala. Cook, stirring about 3 minutes. Don't let the garlic burn! Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce, and simmer, loosely covered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream, stir, and return to simmer. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

While sauce simmers, put oven rack in middle-top position, (6 inches from heating element), and heat broiler. Place your chicken either on a cooking rack fitted in a baking sheet, or on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. With a silicon pastry brush, or spoon, brush both sides of the chicken with a good coating of the yogurt mixture. Discard leftover yogurt mixture. Broil the chicken until instant-read thermometer reads 160 degrees. This takes 10-18 minutes if you are using breasts, less time if you are using tenders. Flip half way through.

Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into bite-sized pieces and stir into warm masala sauce. Stir in cilantro and adjust seasonings.

Serve over Basmati rice.


Pamela said...

So fantastic and you made it seem so easy. Next time I go grocery shopping I am adding these ingredients to my list.

a little music said...

YUM! I've been looking for a really good tikka masala recipe! I think the Brits got this from their occupation of India, because this is definitely Indian in origin. We had a couple-missionary sister who came home from India, and taught the RS ladies her recipe, which I did NOT get! Thanks for this - you are so cool, baby!

Kristine said...

This sounds so good! I am going to try this!

Peggy said...

I take it as a kindness that you included a link to what mise en place means. Saved me from having to look it up myself. Mighty thoughtful of you.

This looks incredibly tasty! But sadly, curry and I don't really get along. What's your guess on how this would taste without it?

tammy said...

Pam, Ruth, Kristine--Let me know how it works for you!

Peggy--I'd say it tastes VERY different from curry. Jason does not like curry, but he really loves this. Curries are about as varied a chocolate chip cookie recipes. How about I save you a bite next time I make it?

Nicole Pearce said...

Tikka is a favorite in our house as well. I love how versatile it is. It can take chicken, tofu, or even pork on occasion. It can also be made with pretty common grocery store ingredients. Yours looks pretty good, I might just have to make it this weekend.

Donna Preston said...

Yes! What is with those ginormous chicken breasts?! Mine aren't even that big. And in regards to the Tikka it!

Fran said...

Absolutely loved it. Great recipe and in order to lighten it up slightly, I used evaporated milk (full fat). I skipped the jalapeno on behalf of my little boy and so the spice level was about right for an adventurous toddler.

tammy said...

Nicole--Let me know how you like it! I'd like to try it with tofu sometime!

Donna--Thanks for the laugh out loud! It's so true!

Fran--Glad you liked it, and thanks for the evaporated milk suggestion, just in case-- heaven forbid--I'm ever out of cream!

Jaime Mormann Richardson said...

Tammy, this looks really really good. I am going to try this as soon as I can.

Jaime Mormann Richardson said...
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Jaime Mormann Richardson said...
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anu said...

delicious and enticing Chicken Tikka Masala

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