Chicken Tikka Masala is one of our families favorite Indian dishes. We also love Butter Chicken and a whole slew of others, that unless there is a picture in front of me, I haven't the slightest clue to what I am ordering or naming. It's kind of like my post earlier this month in regards to the greek food we eat…a lot of ingredient naming and flavor describing going on.
I usually buy a pre-made mix of spices. I have found through the years that there are a few that we really like and a few we don't. I absolutely don't like the pre-made sauces in the jars. They don't taste authentic to me, that is only my opinion though and maybe you have had better luck than me. If you have a favorite please do share…I am all ears. I was a bit nervous about making this from scratch but decided to give it a whirl.
I found this recipe on the Food & Wine site. The original can be found here. As with most of the recipes I find, I made a few changes. This comes with the fact that I don't always have the ingredients on hand. With this recipe I did not have any plain yogurt or cardamon. I was able to find suitable substitutes that worked like a charm.
I am already preparing when I will make this yummy dish again. I doubled the recipe and it lasted less than 24 hours in my house. The flavor was wonderful.
I have a bit of advice that I will share with you. This recipe "develops" it's flavors. It cannot be rushed. The meat must marinate overnight or for a length of time that is equivalent. You are using tomatoes that can make any dish taste acidic. This needs to be slowly enhanced. I used a combination of salt and honey to bring the flavor to what I would consider the perfect flavor for my taste buds. The honey was my addition to the recipe and it was the only thing I could think of that would add that bit of sweetness that was needed without overpowering the flavors of the other spices. I did several "taste and season" trips to the pot over the course of an hour or two.
Final comment…try it! You will love it if you like Indian food. I served ours with rice and naan bread.
Recipe: Chicken Tikka Masala (my changes will be in red)
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt--I used sour cream, diluted with 1 T of water and it worked great
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom -I used equal amounts of nutmeg and cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed-I used skinless chicken breast
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup blanched whole almonds-I used almond meal
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons pure chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
One 35-ounce can peeled tomatoes, finely chopped, juices reserved-I used a 28oz can of tomatoes
Pinch of sugar-I used about 2 T. of honey, not added at once though.
1 cup heavy cream
In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the yogurt (sourcream), garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom (nutmeg and cinnamon mix), cayenne and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper.
I precut the chicken into littler pieces so the baking of the chicken would go faster. Add the chicken to the marinade, turn to coat and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade; scrape off as much of the marinade as possible. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and spread the pieces on a baking sheet. Broil the chicken, turning once or twice, until just cooked through and browned in spots, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut it into 2-inch pieces or smaller. I like more of a bite size piece.
(I skipped this step and used my almond meal) Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the almonds and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a plate and let cool completely. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garam masala, chile powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cover partially and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the cream and ground almonds and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes longer. Stir in the chicken; simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and serve. This is the point in which I would taste and season the tikka masala. Go slowly and give the seasonings a chance to blend and marry together.
MAKE AHEAD The Chicken Tikka Masala can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving. NOTES Variation The marinade and sauce here are also delicious with shrimp, lamb and vegetables. SERVE WITH Steamed basmati rice, rice pilaf or warm nan.