My wife and I were recently talking about how we were craving an Indian curry dish known as chicken tikka masala. If you have never smelled, nor tasted this dish, you are truly missing out on something wonderful. My quick take on chicken tikka masala is that it is a dish consisting of tender cubes of chicken, marinated in a fragrant yogurt sauce, then cooked, and placed in a bath of creamy tomato sauce seasoned with great spices. The aroma is something amazing, and even more so, is the taste.
This dish is a bit exotic, as its color, its aroma, and its flavor really draws you in and makes you feel great, all around. I am certain everyone has their own take on chicken tikka masala, as you often see the colors a bit lighter, or darker, and probably a using a few different ingredients. My favorite way of making this dish is using a handful of standard ingredients, and some basic Indian spices. The sauce alone is something phenomenal, and can hold its own with a nice bowl of rice. Enough said. I am getting excited just thinking about it, and wishing I had more!
Ingredients for the chicken marinade:
- 2 large boneless, skinless chickent breasts, cut into cubes
- 1 cup of plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, mashed into a paste
- 1/2 head of garlic, mashed into a paste
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- Juice and zest of one lime
Combine all of the ingredients with the exception of the chicken, and mix well. Add in the chicken, mix well, cover and place in the refrigerator over night, or at least 4 hours.
Next is to move on and make what I call the gravy.
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup of canola oil
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 2 serrano chili peppers, seeds and rib removed, diced
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp tumeric powder
- salt, to taste
- Cooked Basmati rice
- 1 cup of peas (mix into cooked basmati rice)
Begin by lining a baking sheet with aluminum foil, preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and lay out the chicken cubes onto the sheet. Cook until the edges of your chicken begin to brown, roughly 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven.
To make your gravy, heat up a large pot, and add in the oil. Bring to a nice medium, high heat. Add in the onions, cooking them for about 20 minutes, or until they have began to caramelize and turn a nice dark color. Reduce the heat to medium low, during this process.
Bring the heat back up to a medium, and add in the garlic, tomatoes, serrano chilis, and tomato paste, giving a nice stir. Add in the cinnamon, garam masala, cumin, and tumeric. Watch how the tumeric changes the color of the dish. This is where the vibrant yellow comes into play. Now, add in your cream, and give a nice stir. Add in your chicken, cover, and cook on very low heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring on occasion.
When you are ready to plate, take your basmati rice and peas and place as the base of your dish. Generously scoop the gravy and bits of chicken on the top of the rice. Sprinkle some fresh cilantro leaves on the top. Stick your nose close to the dish and enjoy the smell. Repeat with the nose. Dig in.
I hope you enjoy this really tasteful dish.