To me, a delicious bowl of Chicken Tikka Masala is perfect comfort food. Being from California, where diversity abounds, there’s never a shortage of ethnic favorites. In fact, I grew up in a city that proudly features its own Little Indian Town. Imagine Chinatown, but with a neighborhood full of Indian eateries and shops instead.
Funny little fact: Chicken Tikka Masala doesn’t have any origins from India. I was tickled to discover that the dish was actually invented in a London curry house. Regardless of how it came about, it’s now one of the most popular dishes served up in favorite Indian restaurants everywhere. Good thing, because some of my all time favorites are found in those restaurants. The only bummer: though I like my new turf, really good Indian restaurants around here are few. And the prices on those menus are double what I’m used to paying. Hmm. What to do?
We all know what to do. Get on a quest to find worthy recipes that can be made at home. Scavenge for ways to really mimic the flavors we loved in our old ‘hood.
In my quest, I have tried numerous recipes for chicken tikka masala – some recipes were more involved than others, some were fully homemade, and some were partly homemade. But none of them really resembled the deep, rich, distinctive flavors of restaurant style chicken tikka masala. That is…not until now. You knew that was coming :) Hubby and I agree that this is by far the best home cooked chicken tikka masala we’ve had.
Finally, finally a flavorful and robust chicken tikka masala that can easily be cooked up at home. My older boys are used to different spices, and they loved this stuff. Even the 3 year old, who doesn’t remember eating anything similar before, reached for thirds. Cooks Illustrated, how can we applaud thee? You are simply genius. With a capital G.
Some heavy cream aside, this dish is actually pretty healthy. Chicken breast, a diverse array of good spices, plain yogurt, tomatoes… it’s all the good stuff! It goes fabulously with Basmati rice. Add a little saffron to your rice before cooking, and you’ve got the best accompaniment to your dish. You’ll want to pour the yummy sauce all over that rice and slurp it up, right down to the last grain.
This was such a success that I’m now eager to give another favorite Indian dish a shot. Hoping to make it as good as this one was. By the way, there is a decent variety of spices to this Chicken Tikka Masala, and you probably don’t want to skip any of them, if at all possible. Each spice lends a special flavor to the overall dish, with all of the individual spices melding together perfectly. It will taste like something is missing if it’s not all there.
By the way, I do plan to put up the recipe for that grilled flatbread you see here. It’s akin to naan, and is FAB. Hoping to get around to that soon. In the meantime, enjoy the tikka masala!
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts – dried well, pounded evenly flat
1 cup plain (unsweetened) whole milk yogurt
2 TB vegetable oil
2 tsp ground ginger
1 TB ground garlic
3 TB vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger (peeled)
1/4 tsp chili powder
2 TB garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 TB tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 tsp sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
dashes of kosher salt to taste
For the Chicken:
Combine salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of dry, evenly-pounded chicken with spice mixture, pressing in so mixture sticks. Place chicken in single layer and set aside. Whisk yogurt, oil, ginger, and garlic together in large bowl and set aside.
For the Sauce (can be made a day or two before, without chicken):
Heat oil in large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, tomato paste, and cook about 3 minutes. Add the rest of sauce ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce to medium low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lastly, stir in cream and return to simmer a few minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
While sauce is keeping warm, place oven rack 6 inches from heat broiler. Dip chicken well into yogurt mixture, coating with thick layer of yogurt. Arrange each piece on wire rack lined with aluminum foil. Broil chicken about 5-9 minutes, flip over halfway, and broil another 5-9 minutes. The exterior will be lightly browned in spots.
Let chicken rest 5 minutes. Cut into bite size chunks and stir into warm sauce when ready to eat. Do not simmer chicken in the sauce. If sauce needs warming, warm it up first and then toss the chicken in when ready to serve. Lastly, season with kosher salt to taste, toss in fresh cilantro, and serve immediately over Basmati rice.
By chewoutloud, adapted from Cooks Illustrated cookbook