So Mr. Wonderful and I met at our gym many years ago. The free weight room was on one end of the gym, and every time we worked out in there, we smelled this heavenly smell.
One day as we walked out, we ventured over that way to see what smelled so gosh darned good.
It was an Indian restaurant.
Neither of us had ever dined at an Indian restaurant before, so one day we got adventurous and blew our workout by heading in for dinner.
This is always my one of my favorite things to eat at Indian restaurants now. This and that lightly-breaded, deep-fried spinach leaves…I love those things! Oh, and the mango pudding with the little apple chunks? Love that too.
Yesterday as I was leaving work, I got an e-mail from Cooks Illustrated and guess what recipe was on it?
Chicken Tikka Masala.
After reading about this dish, I was surprised to find out its origins may lie in England (it is widely popular there) and not India, but it is probably the most widely eaten dish, at least by us Americans on an Indian buffet and I know I love it. The dish is a tomato-based sauce spiked with the wonderful curry flavors of Garam Masala, ginger and garlic. At the last minute, you stir in yogurt or cream to make a wonderful, rich and flavorful sauce that just makes my heart sing.
Now, let’s make some Tikka Masala, shall we?
I had everything I needed at home due to my frequent stops at this place just down the road from my work.
Take 4 chicken breasts and dry them off pretty well by patting them with a paper towel. In a small bowl mix together one tablespoon of salt with 1/2 teaspoon each of coriander and cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
Sprinkle this over both sides of the chicken breasts.
Cover them with plastic wrap and set them in the refrigerator for one hour.
Next, make your yogurt marinade/coating.
In a bowl, dump in one cup of whole plain yogurt…you can use low fat if you wish, I won’t crucify you. Grate in a good size tablespoon of fresh ginger and also mince up or press in 2 cloves of garlic. Also add in 2 tablespoons of canola oil. According to Cooks Illustrated, this helps it brown better in the oven, but I really don’t think it’s necessary and I would leave it out next time.
Mix this up real well.
Line a baking sheet with foil and insert a baking rack in it. I got this at my local restaurant supply for just a couple of bucks, and it really allows the oven heat to go over and under the chicken. This is also my favorite way to make bacon. It also keeps the bottom of the chicken from getting soggy. Go ahead and preheat your broiler also while you’re at it!
Take your chicken breasts after one hour and dip them into the yogurt and coat both sides really well.
Place them on your cooking sheet rack with plenty of room around them.
Place these under your broiler for about 7-10 minutes on each side. When they start to brown, flip them onto the other side.
You’re looking for some golden browning and the black char spots are just fine. Keep your oven rack at least 8-10 inches (10 would be perfect) from the top broiler.
While that’s broiling, let’s make our sauce.
Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a pot.
Add in one chopped onion and 2 chopped cloves of garlic.
Also add in another tablespoon of your grated fresh ginger and one tablespoon of tomato paste.
Next you’ll need to add in 2 Tablespoons of Garam Masala. This spice is pretty readily available if you have a store with good spice selection. I got mine at Spices of India here in town, but I’ve seen it in jars in the regular spice section of my store.
Also add in one chopped jalepeno ( I removed the seeds and ribs for less heat).
Stir all of this up for about two minutes and let the spices toast in with the tomato paste. (It’s very pasty-like at this point in thickness.) Then, add in one (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes.
Also add in one teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Stir this up and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
Then, add in 2/3 cup of heavy cream. I’ve also seen many recipes that call for yogurt and I think I’ll try that next time for health reasons (and I think authentic Indian recipes would do so as well).
Stir it up again and it will turn this lovely shade of red-orange. Cut up your chicken into one inch cubes and dump it right into your sauce. Stir it up well. (No picture sorry!)
Sprinkle some chopped cilantro over top.
I served this over some cooked Basmati rice. We bought this huge bag at Spices of India. Caution…Basmati rice makes horrible sushi! Do NOT try this at home!
And there you have it folks, Chicken Tikka Masala at home! Good, good, good stuff!
P.S. I loved serving this with the handmade wooden spoons my daughter Kayla brought back from India this summer from her mission trip!
P.S.S After getting horrible food poisoning in India, I don’t think Kayla will ever eat Indian food again.
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