Until a couple of years ago, I had never heard of Chicken Tikka Masala. I had recorded an episode of America's Test Kitchen (Cook's Illustrated) and I watched this dish being made. I was intrigued by the blend of spices-- and no yellow curry! I love anything in a tomato based sauce, so I was hooked.
Chicken Tikka Masala is not an Indian Dish. In fact, it is believed to have been created in the U.K. and is considered one of the most popular restaurant dishes. Essentially, it's chicken that has been coated with yogurt, broiled and then served with a tomato based sauce that is seasoned with exotic spices and some hot peppers.
I had never heard of Garam Marsala, but it's a beautiful blend of spices-- cardamon, cinnamon, cumin and a lot more. I purchased mine at my local grocery store, by McCormick Schilling, because Cook's Illustrated gave it a high recommendation. You can blend your own, but I usually don't use some of the spices very often.
The dish takes a bit of prep work and time-- it took almost an hour, and this is the second time I've made it. Ready? Here we go:
First, you want to season chicken breasts (I don't see why you can't use dark meat) with a blend of cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and salt. There's something wrong with this picture... I cut-up the chicken, rather than keeping it whole. Why? I spaced. Habit. Auto-Mode. Oh well, I'll have to improvise. If the pieces were whole, it would be easier to pat the spices in, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Next, the yogurt-- you'll need to add some vegetable oil, fresh garlic, and freshly grated ginger:
I used Greek yogurt, because it's thick.
Since I cut up the chicken, I decided to coat it in the yogurt but turning it with tongs. Very sanitary, huh? I do take precautions when working with raw chicken. Then, I turned on the broiler.
You're supposed to place the chicken onto a rack. Pretend these are whole pieces. Thank you.
I have to say, that this looks very promising. Into the broiler this goes. I had to pay close attention, because I figured this chicken would cook very fast-- being all cut up, you know.
Start your rice. I meant to use Basmati, but I cooked Jasmine. I spaced again. I love either one of them.
In the meantime, it's time to start the Tikka Masala sauce:
I prepped these ingredients while my chicken was in the fridge. I didn't have crushed tomatoes, so I had to use a can of whole tomatoes and run them through my OXO food mill (love that gadget). You'll also need minced onion, grated ginger, minced garlic, garam marsala, serrano chilis (I used jalapeno, because it's what I had). You'll definitely want these all assembled, because the sauce comes together pretty fast.
The chicken took about 5 minutes per side-- and it tastes so good, that I could stop right here. Really! I think kids would love it.
You'll want to cook the onion for about 6 minutes, until just golden, and then add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for about 3 minutes. The garam marsala smells out of this world. Trust me.
With a lid on, simmer the sauce for about 15 minutes. You'll add heavy cream to the sauce. I was out of heavy cream, so I used half and half. It was good, but I sure wish I had heavy cream. **SIGH**
I ate a few pieces of chicken and moaned. This is good! The cooked chicken is now added to the finished sauce. You don't want to cook the chicken-- just coat it with the sauce.
Serve this dish with rice and fresh cilantro. I love cilantro. Basmatic rice would have photographed better on a white plate. This is Jasmine rice.
This is good. Yes, indeed. You could leave out the peppers if you have kids...or if you're afraid of heat. Personally, I'm a whimp about heat-- but this isn't super hot. I always clean out the seeds and the membranes in jalapenos. I actually love jalapeno, and I'm not afraid of it.
This is not a worknight meal. Neither are meatballs (as I learned last week). This is, however, my lunch for tomorrow. I made extra, because I'm learning to freeze extra food for nights when I don't have the energy to cook. That seems to be happening a lot more, lately!
I hope you give this a try. It's different, and it's delicious.