Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ninette is back: Chicken Tikka Masala

In early May, I had the crazy idea to put our house on the market. Three months and one wild-n-crazy ride later, I can finally sit down in our new home and blog again.

It's nice to be back to normal.

Even if normal means not yet finding the plates and wondering where my blog camera is.

My first blog back from the world of moving resulted from a craving.  A foodie, my 12-year-old daughter Christina wanted chicken tikka masala.  And she wanted it BAD(ly).

I can understand why.  CTM is addictive, with its yogurt-marinated, spiced and grilled chicken pieces and luscious cream-tomato sauce, perfect atop fluffy basmati rice or as a seductive pool for naan bread.  There's a reason why chicken tikka masala has been called Britain's national dish and is a mainstay at almost every Indian restaurant.

Christina was pouting, however, because at my in-laws' lakehouse where the kids were visiting for a few weeks, there isn't an Indian restaurant for miles.

No problem, I told her, I would make it the next time her dad and I came up to the lakehouse.

"Yeah, right," was written all over her face.

Did I mention she was 12 (i.e., teenager-in-training)?

When I was home, I really did mean to pack the things I needed to make chicken tikka masala, such as garam masala, and bring them with me.  But time got away from me, and the next weekend I showed up at the lakehouse spice-less.

Do you think Christina forgot about the promise of chicken tikka masala?

Not a chance.

The chicken tikka masala recipe at Rasa Malaysia saved the day as it used easily found chile powder and cumin as its main spices.  And while I would have liked some garam masala, it was delicious without it.

If you haven't ever made Indian food, this is a good way to start.  It's super easy and delicious.

To anyone who followed this blog, thanks for waiting for me.  I look forward to reconnecting with you.

Chicken Tikka Masala
(based on Rasa Malaysia's recipe with slight modifications)

3-4 boneless chicken breasts, skins removed and cut into approx. 3/4 inch pieces
1 cup thick natural yogurt
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
Kosher salt and ground pepper
Take cut chicken and put it in a large bowl.  Generously salt.  Add rest of spices and some freshly ground pepper.  Mix together until the chicken is evenly coated.
In a food processor or blender, puree the onion, ginger, and yogurt together.  Add yogurt mixture to chicken and mix together well.  Cover the bowl or transfer to a Ziploc bag.  Let marinate at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready, remove chicken from yogurt marinade and discard rest of yogurt marinade.  Grill pieces over medium heat until done, about 10-15 minutes.  You can also cook them in a skillet or under the broiler of your oven, flipping occasionally.

1 cup tomat puree
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 jalapenos or red chiles, finely chopped (remove seeds if you don't like it too spicy)
2 teaspoons ground cumin 
2 teaspoons paprika powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter or vegetable oil.
Handful of coriander leaves/cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper

 Heat a dutch oven or large skillet to medium and melt the ghee/clarified butter. Sauté the garlic and chopped jalapenos until fragrant. Sprinkle the ground cumin, paprika powder and a pinch of salt. Sauté for a further minute or two until the mixture turns into a paste-like texture.
Pour in the canned tomatoes, scraping the bottom of the skillet to deglaze it and to release any bits stuck to the pan. Simmer uncovered for approx. 10-15 minutes on low heat until the sauces begins to thicken, then add the grilled chicken pieces and cream. Simmer for a further 10 minutes, thickening the sauce further and to heat the chicken and cream through.
Serve sprinkled with fresh chopped coriander leaves and with steamed Basmati rice, fresh naans and pickles.


Melissa K said...

Hi Ninette! I must have put your blog in my reader shortly before you took your hiatus, because to be honest, I didn't even remember you when this post popped up. But, may I say? This was a great way to pique my interest again! Try as I might, I just can't get into Indian food, but this looks and sounds delicious!

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Ninette is baaaack! Yay! Good to see that all is well and you're blogging again. Hope to hear more from you. :)

zurin said...

Hi Ninette! Im so happy you're back! Glad you are somewhat settled now and if you can cook a chkn tikka masala you definitely can blog.:))look forward to more of you lovley recipes. N tq because Im going ot make this for dinner soon. It sounds tummy. worthy of a few pouts it seems :D

TD's Ramblings said...

Ninette: What if you have garam masala? Would you just add it towards the end, or put it in place of other spices?

Ninette said...

Hi TD. I probably would have reduced the cinnamon and chile powder and added the garam masala to the chicken and marinade. To the sauce, I would have added some too. I think it would depend on what was in the garam masala, because it has different things in it depending on who makes it. In any case, I think the idea of the chicken is to make sure it's well spiced no matter what spices you use.

Claudia said...

I'd subscribed to your blog not too much before you moved and have been looking forward to your return. I LOVE Indian food and have no access where we live, so this recipe will be a joy to make. Welcome back!

Mike said...

Hey, hey, welcome back! So glad to hear you are unpacked and getting back to normal! Good food awaits, and the Chicken Tikka Masala looks fab!!

Debi (Table Talk) said...

Welcome back Ninette! You have returned with one of my favorite Indian dishes. Hard not to like all of the good things that make it so rich and creamy.
Hope you are enjoying your new home :)