Sunday, August 19, 2012

Chicken Tikka Masala from Scratch

I know, I know, it's been a while since I posted. Frankly, life has been crazy and a crazy life means I'm making recipes that just aren't blog-worthy. But, I wanted to spend some time cooking this weekend and tried two recipes out. This one, from the blog Use Real Butter, is completely worth the wait you've endured since my last post. 

I love chicken tikka masala. Love, with a capital L. Most Indian recipes are a bit daunting to me, usually calling for a pinch of a spice (or several spices) that I don't have, or a laundry list of ingredients and a whole lot of time. This recipe I found for Chicken Tikka from scratch did have a bit of a lengthy list of ingredients, but as I looked closer all the ingredients were ones I had on hand, and by prepping the chicken in the marinade the night before there wasn't a ton of work to be done to actually make this dish. 

This is so yummy. And now it's ultra dangerous for me to have this recipe in my arsenal because Chris declared it better than Swagat (one of the best Indian restaurants in Madison). Now, I'm not going to say that this is better than the Chicken Tikka Masala from Swagat, but man, it's really really good. 

Here's a note - double up the sauce recipe. Trust me, you'll need a lot of it to sop up with your naan bread.

Recipe from Use Real Butter
  • 1/2 recipe chicken kebabs (see below)
  • 3 tbsps vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tsps minced garlic
  • 2 tsps peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 fully ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsps sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick (approx 1-inch or 2.5-cm)
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 1/2 lime, juice of (about 1.5 tbsps)
  • 1/4 cup (65 ml) heavy cream
  • 3 tbsps water
Chicken Kebabs:
  • 1 lb. chicken breast or chicken thigh, boneless and skinless
  • 4 tbsps vegetable oil (or 3 tbsps if grilling the kebabs)
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 lime, juice of
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsps plain yogurt
  1. Make the chicken kebabs: Cut the chicken into 3/4-inch (2 cm) cubes. Mix 3 tablespoons of the oil and the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl or ziploc bag. Add the chicken cubes and mix well to ensure even coating. If in a bowl, cover the chicken with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 1 day (I let it marinate for 24 hours). When done marinating, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. If baking the chicken then preheat oven to 450°F and spread the remaining tablespoon of oil over a baking sheet. If grilling, clean and lightly oil the grill, then fire it up! Skewer the chicken with pre-soaked bamboo skewers or as I prefer to use, stainless steel skewers. Try not to squash them too closely or they won’t cook evenly. If baking, set the skewers on the baking sheet and bake 8 minutes, turn and bake another 7 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle. If grilling, grill over high heat for 4 minutes, flip the skewers and grill another 3 minutes until done. Remove the chicken from the skewers. At this point you can refrigerate the chicken for a few days or freeze it for up to a month.
  2. Make the masala: In a medium saucepan (or a large one if you double or triple the recipe), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until the onions become golden brown, stirring frequently for about six minutes. [Mine never got to golden brown, they got to translucent yellowish slightly brown.] Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chopped tomato. Cover and simmer for a few minutes until the tomato softens, stirring occasionally. Mash it with the onions until it becomes a sort of mushy paste. Stir in the cumin seeds, coriander, paprika, red pepper, salt, black pepper and sugar. Let the masala simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour the sauce into a blender (take care not to burn yourself as it will be hot) and purée until smooth.
  3. Put it all together: Return the masala to the saucepan and stir in the cinnamon stick, butter, lime juice, heavy cream and water. Set on high heat. Let it come to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add the chicken and let simmer 5 minutes. Stir it every minute or so. Serves 3 to 4.
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