Chicken Tikka Masala

>> Thursday, June 9, 2011

My parents have led an interesting life and lived in, and travelled to, some pretty exotic places - Virgin Island, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and all over Europe. As a result, they exposed us to a wide array of food from an early age. The first time we went to an Indian restaurant I think I was in elementary school and I fell in love with the warm, soft naan and Chicken Tikka Masala. I was hooked, and I always ordered the same thing. It wasn't until I was out of college that I branched out and started ordering other dishes, but every now and then, I come back to my old stand-by.

If you've never had Indian food before, Chicken Tikka Masala is a good place to start. The flavors are wonderful, but still fairly mild, so I think most people would like it. I didn't put much heat in my dish because I knew Finley would be eating it too. If you like your food spicier, add a diced jalapeno or some ground cayenne pepper to the sauce. Marinating the chicken in the yogurt mixture is imperative - it adds some flavor, but mostly it keeps the chicken really moist and tender.

Chicken Tikka Masala

for the marinade
1 c plain yogurt
2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground red pepper (cayenne)
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1 t paprika
salt and pepper
1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

for the sauce
1 T butter
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t ground coriander
2 t paprika
1 t garam masala
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t salt
1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
3/4 c heavy cream
3 T tomato paste
chopped cilantro, for garnish
cooked white rice, for serving (recommended: basmati)

In a glass bowl, stir together yogurt, cumin, red pepper, cinnamon, ginger, paprika, salt and pepper. Add chicken. Stir to coat chicken. Marinate (in the fridge) for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Place chicken in colander to drain off marinade.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onion is soft. Add spices, tomato sauce and chicken. Stir to combine. Lower heat to medium-low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add cream and tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes to thicken the sauce.

Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.


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