Have you ever reached that point in cooking when you’re tired of all the usual dishes and wanting to experiment to a level you previously weren’t comfortable with? That’s where I was about a year ago, until I made chicken tikka masala. Chicken Tikka Masala….words so sweet I can almost taste this Indian dish on my lips! In the last year I can honestly say I’ve gotten braver in my cooking and baking–meaning I try to make recipes I once thought impossible. Indian food is one of them. I’ve made several different curry recipes and this one rises to the top. This recipe is adapted from a posting on AllRecipes.com but as with most things, I like to change it and make it more to my taste.
One of the funniest things that James and I clash about is our food differences. I was once considered a picky eater in my family and I think I’ve changed quite dramatically. I do have to credit my sister and brother-in-law with advancing my palette. They were the ones that first opened my horizon with regard to what foods I enjoy and was willing to try. James has done the same for me with seafood. Mussels, swordfish, lobster, crab, scallops–all fish that I didn’t previously eat and now I love them all. Enough about me, let’s pick on James. With James, it’s not that he’s fussy, it’s just that he doesn’t like foods I like. Just to name a few: tuna, squash, chocolate, sugar, excessive butter, etc. We’re both Norwegian but you wouldn’t guess it if you put us in a room with Scandinavian desserts (for you Iowa folks out there I intend to bring him to our Scandinavian Days festival in the near future to overdose him with our heritage). I used to do my best to make food we both like, but after constantly asking him to cook with me and getting a blank stare in return I’ve decided (in the words of Eric Cartman from South Park) “I do what I want!” Though this isn’t a Scandinavian dish, it does happen to be one that we both enjoy and make at least once a month. So, without further adieu, here’s the journey of how we I make this delicious dish…
Chicken Tikka Masala
serve with rice and naan
1 cup yogurt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 boneless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
1 Tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
First thing’s first, get ready to set aside 90 minutes for this meal–though you aren’t actively prepping that entire time. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Here’s James cutting up the chicken for me. Look how good he is at this…don’t you think he should keep cooking with me and see what else he can do?!?!
There is one trick I’ve learned regarding ginger that I thought I’d share in this post. I love fresh ginger, I love it in tea oh so much, but despite my love for it I never seem to use it all before it goes bad. One thing you can do with ginger is to peel it immediately and then store it in the freezer in a safe container until you need to use it again. After you freeze it you can just get out your microplane zester and go to town! If you’re so inclined, you can also download Martha Stewart’s freezer labels to make sure you’re using the food in due time. After you’re done twiddling your thumbs for 60 minutes we can move onto the next step.
Preheat a stove top to medium-high heat. At this point you want to lightly oil your grill pan (unless you have a fabulous Viking stovetop with a grill grate included-then you should use that). What you’re looking to do here is grill the saucy chicken until the juices run clear, about 5-6 minutes on each side depending on how large/small your chicken pieces are.
While you’re working your magic with the chicken, melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic for approximately 1 minute. Season with cumin, paprika, and salt.
Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro. Then eat this delicious dish until you have a food baby.
Gadget Promo Time! The garlic saver is a magnificent invention that I fully endorse. It absorbs humidity and keeps your garlic fresh for longer–something that I find very helpful. Is there anything worse in the world than gone-bad-garlic? Have I convinced you? Do you feel the urgency and the need for the garlic saver? If you do you should head over to patinastores.com and buy one and surf their website for other kitchen gadgets you will suddenly find a need for.