Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chicken Tikka Masala

I bet you didn't know that I worked at a fast food Indian restaurant called KC's one summer. Never had Indian food before. The owner let me taste a few dishes when I first started and I soon became a fan. If I worked that day, I was able to get a free meal. My favorite was always Chicken Tikka Masala. I love the spicy and creamy-ness of the sauce and the fact that it was white meat. A lot of the chicken dishes used dark meat.

Always a fan of Indian food, it can get really expensive. So I'm pretty ecstatic that this recipe can fill my Indian craving pretty quickly. The only sad thing is that I don't ever have any naan. And that's one of the best parts of eating Indian food. But I learn to live without it.

Chicken Tikka Masala

1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tb. lemon juice
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tb. fresh ginger, minced
3 boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
4 wooden skewers, soaked in water 20 minutes
1 Tb. butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. paprika
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 tsp. cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger and chicken in a large bowl. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Thread chicken onto soaked skewers and grill on high heat until chicken is done, about 10 minutes each side. I don't grill the skewers, I just cook them on a George Foreman grill. You could probably cook these in a frying pan also. Set chicken aside when done.

In a large heavy skillet, melt butter and saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute over medium heat. Season with 2 tsp. cumin and paprika.

Stir in tomato sauce and cream, simmer on low for 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, simmer additional 10 minutes.

Salt to taste and garnish with chopped cilantro.

I love the colors in this dish.

Like I said, this recipe usually fulfills my craving for Indian food. I did buy naan from the grocery store one day, but it's just not the same as getting it at the restaurant. And the rice isn't basmati rice, but plain old white rice. Basmati is usually a little sweeter and fluffier, but white rice serves its purpose.

The chicken is really spicy and the marinade always makes me sneeze for some reason. I love this sauce. It's a creamy tomato sauce with a bit of spice to it. If you like a lot of sauce, double those components. Otherwise there's just enough sauce for a bite of chicken. I like to mix the sauce and rice together without chicken, so I doubled it this time. Granted, I only used two chicken breasts, so there was a lot more sauce than meat. I'd use two jalapenos too if I could to add more spice. And cilantro is also a must in this dish. It's how I remember the chicken tikka masala from my job.

I think this dish is a gateway meal for other Indian food. And there is no curry in this dish. A lot of people equate Indian food to curry and curry can be really strong. But there is no curry, so don't be afraid.

Give this a dish a try and if you like it, give me a call so we can go get Indian food together.

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