Friday, July 3, 2009

Chicken Tikki Masala

Source: Cook's Illustrated

Having lived in the midwest the vast majority of my life, and growing up on standard American fare, I have to admit I really don't have an adventurous palate. Since moving out west, that's changed! I now love sushi, and have tried Thai as well. I've never felt a desire to try Indian food, but I was flipping through my ever-consistent New Best Recipe and thought, "Why not?" This wasn't any more difficult than any other dish I've made. I had to pick up garam masala and a few other spices, but it was overall really easy.

Did I LOVE it? I liked it, A LOT, but a little quirk to my taste buds is I don't like sweet meat dishes. I rarely like barbeque sauce. Suffice to say, the resulting chicken had a slightly sweet flavor, but I overall really enjoyed the different flavors. I'd like to try this again because sometimes it takes new tastes awhile to grow on me. For instance, the first time I had sushi, I was like, "Okay, but probably not again." Ha ha! Now you can't keep me away from a crunchy roll!

I also like the "technique" of cooking the chicken under the broiler. It's like a grill without the mess! I may start using that particular method again in other recipes.

I made this with basmati rice - check the label carefully. I didn't read it quite thoroughly enough, and my package instructions had me soaking the rice for 15 minutes, then boiling down for another 35 minutes, which is longer than the recipe takes to make. I also added 1 tablespoon of tumeric for a little more flavor and color! I do so love the colors of this dish :)

Chicken Tikka

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (if you like more heat, keep in some of the ribs)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

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