Several years ago, I had my very first Indian meal thanks to a wonderful buffet at a little restaurant on 6th Street in Pittsburgh called Indian Spices. I fell in love with the garlic naan (how could you not?), the daal makhni, the saag paneer, and especially the tikka masala. After returning home, I soon discovered a few more Indian restaurants closer to me--Bombay Gardens and Greek Eats in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and Bombay Sitar in Canton, Ohio. And while I absolutely love the fresh selection and unbeatable price of Bombay Sitar's daily lunch buffet (11:00AM - 2:30PM Monday-Friday, 11:30AM - 3:00PM Saturday, 12:00PM - 3:00PM Sunday), I don't get that way often enough to satisfy my frequent longings for a rich tikka masala over a bed of delicious, aromatic basmati rice steamed with salt and a couple of cloves. Last year, a friend commissioned me to make some vegetarian meals, so I tried my hand at saag paneer, and while my paneer was easy enough to make, it didn't turn out as firm as the kind in the saag at my favorite Indian restauratns. Recently, though, I decided to try again. We were having a dinner party with guests, and I opted to do an Indian meal. I made a different saag paneer recipe, my first attempt at garlic naan (successful AND surprisingly simple!), and this Chicken Tikka Masala recipe. I opted for the more readily available ingredients listed, upped the onion, and used raw chicken breast tenders instead of the suggested full chicken breasts. It turned out beautifully. In the future, I hope to try it with cauliflower instead of chicken.
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ
Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from a recipe found on Bon Appetit.
6 garlic cloves, finely grated
4 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
4 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt (not Greek). I use Stonyfield Farms Whole Milk Plain Yogurt.
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise, or breast tenders (which I prefer)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (or ghee, if you can make or access it)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
3/4 teaspoono of ground cardamom (or, if you can access it, 6 cardamom pods, crushed)
1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (or, if you can access it, 2 dried chiles de árbol, which lend a more traditional flavor to the dish)
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus sprigs for garnish
Steamed basmati rice (for serving)
ACTIVE: 1 HRS TOTAL: 5½ HRS
Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk yogurt, salt, and half of spice mixture in a medium bowl; add chicken and turn to coat. I find you can marinade quite a bit more chicken in this yogurt mixture than the original recipe suggests. Cover and chill 4-6 hours. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.
Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and pepper and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes.
Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them well with your hands as you add them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.
Add cream and chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet. Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer. Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots (it will not be cooked through), about 10 minutes.
Cut chicken into bite-size pieces with kitchen shears, add to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Serve with rice and cilantro sprigs.