If there’s one dish guaranteed to be on any Indian restaurant menu, it would have to be Chicken Tikka Masala. This popular dish would also be a great way to introduce Indian cuisine to your palate if you have not tried it before. So where did Chicken Tikka Masala originate? There are many claims to its fame. As history would have it, Chicken Tikka was popular during the Mughal dynasty. Chicken tikka are marinated pieces of succulent chicken cooked in a tandoor clay oven. There are many variations to this dish, but this is how it evolved. A British gentleman in Glasgow in the 1960’s ordered tikka masala. He found the dish too dry, so asked the chef for some sauce to go with it. From then on, the chef perfected the creamy yogurt sauce with a rich array of spices and so the famous Chicken Tikka Masala was invented. It is a mild Indian curry that goes so well with rice or naan.
The secret to the succulent pieces of chicken is to marinate it in yogurt and spices and leave it overnight. Seeing as it was the winter time, I did not use the outdoor grill. I do believe though it would be beautifully charred had I used the skewers and grilled it outdoors and then dropped it in the curry. Another alternative would be to use a well seasoned cast iron skillet or a regular non-stick pan over high heat.
I served the dish with some plain basmati rice and roasted the okra with some Indian spices. The resulting aromatic sauce of the chicken tikka masala with all the wonderful spices is rich and creamy and a fabulous dish to serve with company or even as a weeknight treat which is what we indulged in for days.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Ingredients for the chicken marinade
- 28 oz (800g) boneless and skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon ginger
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder (or 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder)
- 1 teaspoon salt
Ingredients for the sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable/canola oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic finely grated
- 1 tablespoon ginger finely grated
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 14 oz (400g) tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder (optional for color and flavor)
- 1 teaspoon ground red chili powder (adjust to your preference)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream (use evaporated milk for lower calories)
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro or coriander for garnish
- In a bowl, combine chicken with all of the ingredients for the chicken marinade; let marinate for an hour or overnight if time allows.
- Heat oil in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. When sizzling, add chicken pieces in batches but making sure not to crowd the pan. Fry until browned for 3 minutes on each side. Set aside and keep warm. (You will finish cooking the chicken in the sauce.)
- Melt the butter in the same pan. Fry the onions until soft (about 3 minutes) while scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Add garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute until fragrant, then add garam masala, cumin, turmeric and coriander. Fry for about 20 seconds until fragrant, while stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the crushed tomatoes, chili powder and salt. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens and becomes a deep brownish/reddish color.
- Stir the cream and sugar through the sauce. Add the chicken and its juices back into the pan and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and bubbling. Pour in the water to thin out the sauce if needed.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve with hot basmati rice.
Recipe source: cafedelites.com