Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

I am really into Indian food right now.  I have always liked it, but there is an Indian restaurant that I have gone to for lunch several times in the past month and I am now hooked.  There are two things that draw me to Indian food:

1.  I love the ginger, garlic, yogurt, and other fresh flavors paired with all the warm spices like cloves, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, etc.  

2.  It is so vegetarian.  And healthy!

This is my most Indian dish I have ever made.  And upon some Wiki research, I learned that this dish isn't really all that Indian.  It is British?  And the most popular British dish at that.  I have never been to the UK, so I guess I will need to verify that at some point in my life.  But it definitely has some Indian connections.  

And you know, I should have known this dish was not super authentic since it has chicken and cream in it.  Not vegetarian and not overly healthy like most of the dishes I have had are.  BUT, it is delicious and has the warmth that I like so much about Indian food.  And I think this would be perfectly delicious if you just substituted a couple of cans of chickpeas for the chicken.  

I was recently having dinner with some new friends and this is an exact quote from our wonderful conversation:

"A turkey club is too ethnic for my mom."

If you are like my new friend's mom...that is, a little hesitant to trying ethnic food, this is the perfect Indian dish to start with.  It has enough familiar flavors and ingredients like tomatoes, chicken and cream that it is very comforting.  And with the wonderful combination of wintery spices, fresh ginger, garlic, it will knock your socks off.  Lastly,  go for the naan.  If you buy it from the bakery, make sure to grill it in some garlicy olive oil.

PS:  I added a new tab up there.  A little guide to weeknight meals.  Check it out!  

Chicken Tikka Masala
recipe courtesy Aarti Sequeira via Food Network

For the Marinade:
1 cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
3 tablespoons Ginger-Garlic Paste, recipe follows (or 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger and 3 cloves garlic put through a garlic press or finely minced)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, poked with a fork, and cut into large
bite-sized chunks

For the Sauce:
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup Ginger-Garlic Paste, recipe follows (or 6 cloves garlic and 2-inch thumb ginger minced)
2 serrano peppers, minced (seeds removed if you don't want it spicy)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons paprika
8 Roma tomatoes, diced (I used a 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 to 2 cups water
Oil, for grilling
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Minced fresh cilantro, for garnish
Cooked rice, naan, or crusty piece of bread, for serving

For the marinade: In a large bowl, mix together the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Marinate at least 30 minutes, or in the refrigerator up to overnight.

For the sauce: When you're ready to make the curry, place a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the Ginger-Garlic Paste and serrano peppers. Saute until lightly browned around the edges. Add the tomato paste and cook until the tomato has darkened in color, about 3 minutes. Add the garam masala and the paprika and saute for about 1 minute to draw out their flavors.

Add the tomatoes, salt, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook until thickened, about 20 minutes. You may need more water depending on how much liquid the tomatoes give off.

Meanwhile, fire up your grill. When it is nice and hot, lightly brush it with oil. Place the chicken on the grill, shaking off some of the excess marinade. Cook until it's charred, about 2 minutes on each side. (Don't worry that the chicken will still be a little uncooked, it finishes cooking in the sauce).

Pour the sauce into a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender, and process until smooth. Pour back into the skillet and bring back up to a boil. Add the chicken and fenugreek leaves, if using. Take the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the cream and stir through. Garnish with minced fresh cilantro, and serve over rice, with naan, or a crusty piece of bread!

Ginger-Garlic Paste

1/2 cup cloves garlic, whole
1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 cup canola oil

Throw the garlic, ginger, and canola oil in a mini-food processor and let it go until it forms a semi-smooth paste. There will still be tiny little pieces in there, but overall, it should resemble a paste.

Save what you don't use in a small glass jar. It should last in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks. It's a delicious addition to marinades, pasta sauces, stir fry sauces, slowcooker recipes, gravy etc. We always had a jar of this stuff in our fridge growing up.

(Servings: 4-6, Prep time: 1 hr., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:  

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5


  1. I love Indian food too! Indian restaurants have to be my favourite choice for a special weekend dinner. So far, I've made Smitten Kitchen's chickpea curry (check it out! It's amazing!) and Delia Smith's chicken curry. I also love making mango and tomato chutneys from scratch. Along with some thick home-made yogurt, they compliment the curry, naan and rice perfectly. Also try making paneer masala (cubes of Indian cottage cheese with masala spices and peas) or palak paneer (the cottage cheese with buttery spicy spinach) Those have to be my all-time favourite Indian dishes. Vegetarian, easy to make AND healthy and no cream in sight :) so completely guilt free. Spinach is very good for you!

  2. great ideas! paneer yummmmmm. thanks hannah!

  3. Um..... what?

    You called it Chicken Tikka Masala

    2. It is so vegetarian. And healthy!

    you lost me.

  4. hi brother! thanks for the sweet comment! i don't know what to say, i must be crazy!