Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Chicken Tikki Masala

Usually when I make a new dish, I at least have an idea what to expect for the taste. This dish was an exception to that rule. I have seen pictures of the dish and read about it in other people's blog posts, but I really did not know what I was getting myself into. If I were a contestant on Top Chef, it would be risky to make such an unfamiliar dish, but in my kitchen that's how things go.
The recipe I used was a Cook's Illustrated version, so I was pretty confident that I was creating a dish we would be satisfied with. The result was so flavorful, and matched with roasted cauliflower and pita bread it made for an excellent Sunday night dinner. I loved the way the sweet spices mixed with the hot pepper, creating a flavor that was very exotic compared to our usual meals. I'm keeping the "cook Indian food" on my to-cook list, but I will say this was a great place to start. The sauce is really tasty, and would be great over rice or cous cous if you want something to soak it all up.

Thanks to Annie and her blog, Undercover Cook, for the great recipe!

Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, courtesy of Undercover Cook

Serves 6 to 8

Chicken Marinade
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat and cut into 3/4" cubes
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used non-fat)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 medium garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala (I couldn't find this at the store, so I subbed 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper )
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (I used diced, and Joe said he really liked it with some chunks of tomato)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup heavy cream (I used fat-free half and half)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Cover chicken well with yogurt mixture and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Broil chicken until tender and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then stir into warm sauce (do not cook chicken in sauce). Adjust seasoning with salt, add in cilantro if desired, and serve with basmati rice.


Bridget said...

I've made this recipe too! It was my first time eating chicken tikka masala, but I have cooked and loved Indian food. I liked it except that I had some trouble adjusting to the idea of Indian spices in something so tomato-ey - it felt like I should be serving it over pasta with grated parmesan on top!

Kayte said...

this is my favorite kind of Indian food! sooooo good. yours looks delicious!

Ally said...

I love this dish, the recipe looks great! Yum! Now I'm craving Indian.

Sarah said...

I've never had this, either, but it looks really, really good. I'm bookmarking it to give it a go later.

Undercover Cook said...

Erin, I'm so glad this worked out for you! I like your use of diced tomatoes for added texture. If you go for the serrano seeds next time, please start off with a few - a little really goes a long way.

Bridget, your assessment of this dish seeming a bit off is correct - it's actually and anglo-influenced Indian dish, created by Indian immigrants in England to appeal to anglo palates. It's a great dish to start Indian newbies off with.

A World in a PAN said...

ERin, you're very talented and curious!
About asparagus: American cooking ateliers particiapnts say they do not get the white (or puprple) asparagus where they live. In a Good Food podcast back in May, they talked about purple asparagus that were for sale in the Santa Monica market, but it's rare indeed. I'll freeze some and make you taste the Saumur ones when you come back to Paris!

Phivos Nicolaides said...

The dish looks really good. I gave already the recipe to my wife. Sorry I know only to eat!!!


Nicole said...

Sounds great! I will have to try this. I do like Indian food but don't know that I have tried this dish.

KC720 said...

This looks great! I've been trying to get into Indian food as well and this is the next dish I'd like to make. Check out my blog for some other recipes! The broccoli dal recipe is a new favorite of mine.