Take-out at Home: Chicken Tikka Masala
I’ve only attempted to cook Indian food at a home a few times and I’ll admit it, it’s not always successful. Indian food, or should I say “Indian-inspired” because I’m sure most of the ingredients accessible here in Arizona and many of the recipes aren’t traditional or authentic, can be so intimidating. The sheer number of ingredients in most Indian recipes is overwhelming. Not to mention the hard to pronounce names of everything on the page. However, if you can get a good recipe or get the dish to come out right it is so worth it because Indian cuisine is brimming with beautiful complex flavor.
Here are a few tips for the recipe (if you need them):
- Coriander and garam masala (an Indian spice blend) may not be in your spice cabinet. Garam masala can be made at home but requires many spices and a spice grinder. Coriander and garam masala can be found at a surprising amount of grocery stores, you’ve probably just never really looked. If you can’t find the spices at your regular store, try an ethnic specialty store or spice store like Penzey’s. Even stores like Cost Plus World Market, Williams-Sonoma, and Sur la Table often carry hard-to-find spices. There’s always the internet, too.
- The recipe calls for a de-seeded serrano chile. If you like spicy, add some or all of the seeds.
- I served my dish over basmati rice.
- The chicken is rubbed with spices, allowed to marinade for 30-60 minutes, then dipped in a seasoned yogurt mixture and broiled. You dice the chicken then add it to the finished sauce, just to warm everything through. You do not actually cook the chicken in the sauce. This results in moist chicken that still has lots of flavor.
- Note the chicken cooking time approximation is pretty wide-ranged (10-18) minutes. This is because chicken breasts come in variety of sizes with different thicknesses. Keep an eye on the chicken and check with an instant-read thermometer. If you don’t have one of those, I suggest you buy one. It’s an invaluable kitchen tool!
Taste: Not exactly like the Tikka Masala I’ve had in restaurants but still flavorful and tasty.
Texture: The chicken is perfectly cooked and not at all dry or rubbery. The sauce is luscious and slightly thick.
Ease: Not at all as difficult as I had expected.
Appearance: The bright burnt orange/reddish color of the sauce matched with the green cilantro all sitting on a bed of white rice is just lovely.
Pros: Pretty easy way to make Indian-inspired food at home. The sauce can be made ahead of time.
Cons: None, really. This dish isn’t exactly authentic Indian food but it tastes good and I think that is what matters.
Would I make this again? Yes.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
For the chicken:
In a small bowl combine salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne. Sprinkle chicken all over with spice mixture, pressing mixture into chicken. Wrap chicken in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Meanwhile, whisk yogurt, oil, ginger, and garlic in a large bowl.
For the sauce:
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and light brown, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, serrano, tomato paste, and garam masala, stirring often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to a simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm. Sauce can be made up to 4 days ahead of time.
Cook the chicken:
Meanwhile, set oven rack 6-inches away from upper heating element. Preheat broiler. Spray a large wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place over a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Dip spiced chicken into yogurt mixture, coat evenly, then place on a wire rack. Discard remaining yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 160 degrees F and the exterior is slightly charred in spots, 10-18 minutes total, flipping chicken halfway through.
Let chicken rest 5 minutes then cut into 1-inch chunks. Stir chicken into warm sauce. Stir in cilantro, season to taste with salt, and serve.