Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is chunks of chicken marinated in spices and yogurt, that is then baked in a tandoor oven, served in a masala("mixture of spices") creamy tomato sauce.   A popular dish through out the world.  A survey in the United Kingdom claimed that it is that country's most popular restaurant dish.

Traditionally, the chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices for an hour or over night.  I'm not that patient, especially, during the week.  Before I leave the house, I select a protein from the freezer, plop it in a container and into the fridg in goes to thaw out while I'm at work.  When I come home, I check the pantry for what I have on hand and make our meal.  Yes, some days I know exactly what I'm making, but most nights I rely on my pantry staples.  This is an easy and quick version of Chicken Tikka Masala.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 4


1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken, cubed
1 lemon, juiced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
1-2 tablespoons grape seed oil (or canola, vegetable or corn - something with a high smoke point)

Sauce Recipe
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garam masala* or (1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cardamom, 1/4 tsp cloves)

1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup frozen peas (optional- not traditional)
1/2-1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


In a medium sized bowl, combine chicken through ginger.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a medium sized skillet.   Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with a paper towel.  Place chicken in skillet and cook for two minutes per side.  You may need to do this in two batches because you don't want to over crown your pan.  Transfer chicken to bowl and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

For the sauce- use the same pan used to cook the chicken.  Melt butter then add garlic and jalapeno; cook for one minute.  Stir in your spices (coriander through garam masala) then add the tomato sauce.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove all the remaining chicken bits (aka fond). Allow to simmer for 15 minutes on a medium low heat.  Stir in cream; simmer to thicken about 5 minutes.  Add chicken and peas and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust salt to your taste.

Garnish with cilantro. Serve with basmati rice, naan or pita bread.

Note:  Garam Masala is now widely available at your local grocer.  You can also make your own.

1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine spices in a bowl. Transfer to an airtight container, and store in a cool, dry place.

Note: you can make this dairy free by using 1 cup of coconut milk in place of the cream.

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