Chicken Tikka Masala

I caught this recipe while I was watching TV on Monday morning and knew at once this was going to be dinner some day during the week. I also had Tuesday off work (working weekends does have its benefits), so that meant I could go shopping for what I didn’t have, namely ginger, Serrano peppers and tomato paste.

The recipe calls for significant more garlic and ginger than I put in. I also cut down to one Serrano because some in my family are more sensitive to heat. It was still very good and none of us had dragon breath after dinner. Mincing garlic and ginger into a paste is too time consuming and most of the time you can find ready-made ginger and garlic paste in tubes next to the fresh herbs in the grocery store. Really, they’re lovely to have on hand. I just eye-balled how much to put in. Plus, using the tubes allows you to control how vibrant you want the dish to be.

Chicken Tikka Masala by Aarti Sequeira with slight variations (original recipe found here at FoodNetwork.com)

Ingredients

(chicken marinade)

1 cup plain yogurt, stirred well

1 Tbs. ginger grated into a paste

1 Tbs. garlic grated into a paste

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks and pierced all over with a fork

(masala sauce)

2 tsp. oil

3 Tbs. butter

1 tsp. ginger paste

1 tsp. garlic paste

1 Serrano pepper, finely minced with seeds and membranes removed

2 Tbs. tomato paste

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 tsp. ground turmeric

8 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 to 2 cups water

1/3 cup heavy cream or half-n-half

(serving)

basmati rice, prepared according to package directions

chopped fresh cilantro

Method

1. Combine the chicken with the yogurt, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper in a bowl and allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2. In a pan heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger and Serrano pepper. Cook until the edges of the pepper are just browned. Add the tomato paste and cook it until it darkens, usually 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spices and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, salt and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until thick. You can add more water if you want to, but I didn’t find it necessary, but it all depends if you want a looser sauce.

3. When your sauce is in the simmer stage, you want to remove the chicken from the marinade and grill it. I don’t have a grill pan (yet), so I just lined a roasting sheet pan with a silpat sheet and put a baking rack in it. I broiled the chicken for about 10 to 15 minutes, flipping once. You want to get some browned bits on the chicken. It doesn’t have to cook thoroughly because it’ll finish cooking in the sauce.

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4. You can either blend the sauce to make it smooth or keep it chunky. The tomatoes broke down a lot, so I just left it alone. Bring the sauce back to a boil, add the chicken and turn down the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the heavy cream/half-n-half and stir to incorporate.

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5. Serve over basmati rice with some chopped cilantro on top.

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