Friday, October 10, 2008

Chicken Tikka Masala (also known as how to make my hubby very, very happy)

This is a favorite at our house. I don't make it real often because a) it's time consuming and requires a fair amount of forethought and b) the sauce is half cream and totally doesn't work with half n' half (I've tried). But it's sooooo good. We love ethnic food, and this is one dish that Alan always orders when we go out for Indian, so after a fair amount of tweaking I've come up with a version he deems tasty. Don't freak out over the list of spices. It's not hard to make, just takes time because you have to marinate the meat. I also always make peshwari naan to go with it, a wonderful flat bread stuffed with nuts, raisins and cardamom, so the real trick is in getting your groove down to have the masala timed to be done at the same time as the bread. On the fifth or sixth time, I finally got it down pat.Marinade:
1 cup plain yogurt
1 T. lemon juice
2 t. cumin
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. cayenne
1 t. black pepper
1 T. minced fresh ginger
2 t. salt
½ t. curry powder
1 t. garam masala

1/2 t. turmeric (optional)
pinch of cloves
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces

Mix all ingredients together in a gallon plastic bag and allow to marinate for 2-4 hours. It looks kind of nasty. Just don't think about it too much. Then thread chicken on either metal skewers or wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes. Grill until no longer pink, and the edges are lightly charred. Meanwhile, begin your sauce:

1 T. butter
1 large annaheim pepper, diced (if you like more heat, use a jalapeno instead)
1-2 shallots, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t. cumin
1 t. paprika
½ t. cardamom
2 t. garam masala
pinch cloves
16 oz. can tomato sauce
2 cups cream
¼ chopped fresh cilantro

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the peppers, shallots, and garlic for a few minutes until the peppers begin to soften. Add the spices and sauté for another minute.

Reduce the heat to medium low and add the tomato sauce and cream, stirring until well combined. It'll look wimpy, thin and pale orange like this:

Simmer the sauce for 10-15 minutes until it begins to thicken and deepen in color. Then grab your chicken. See how nice the chicken looks?
Add the chicken to the sauce and simmer for another 15 or so minutes until the color is vibrant and the sauce is the consistency of gravy. Stir in the cilantro at the very end, just prior to serving.
Serve on a bed of basmati rice with wedges of peshwari naan on the side. The sweetness of the bread filling is the perfect counterpoint to the savory and spicy masala.


Ben said...

Heidi--I'm glad you posted these because I've been meaning to make them and this reminded me.

Trader Joe's sells brown basmati rice. Oh yeah. It's awesome and I use it for everything.

Meri said...

Drats--foiled again! The comment was not Ben, it was me.

Nurse Heidi said...

Having a little identity crisis there, Merideth? :). Kidding. I love this stuff. So does Alan. The kids are totally missing out (but they do love the bread).

The Grant Family said...

Mmmm. Looks soooo good and time consuming. Just call me when you make it next time ;)

The Grant Family said...

Where did you find the garam masala?

Nurse Heidi said...

Smith's, actually. I believe it's McCormick brand, but I've gotten a few different brands in different places over the years. Super Target often carries ethnic spices.

The curry is actually quite easy to make. The trick is in doing the naan at the same time. I've learned as of late that the naan is fine if made 30 minutes in advance and just kept in a nice warm stack covered with a towel rather than trying to have everything freshly finished all at the same time. That = stress.

Tiffiny Felix said...

Oh, yum!! I can see why Stephanie was raving about this and the naan. And the cream! *naughty*!! ;)

The Grant Family said...

The cream made it VERY naughty...but I have to say, it was worth every bite.

Nurse Heidi said...

I just try not to think about it too hard and enjoy it for what it's worth. Call it a cultural experience. It's definitely not diet food, but I firmly believe that good food, regardless of the calories, is worth eating. You just don't eat it every single day. Interestingly, very few Indian people are overweight despite that most of their curries are cream based. Alan says it's because when he's gone out to eat with his Indian co-workers, they eat much smaller portions than us.