We enjoy ethnic food and love cooking it at home. I first made this Chicken Tikka Masala from Cook’s Illustrated a couple of years ago and was so impressed that I was able to make such a delicious Indian dish at home.
Although the recipe does have quite a few ingredients and multiple steps, it is fairly easy. Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never tried anything like this at home! The sauce and chicken are cooked separately and stirred together in the end. The chicken is dipped in yogurt and broiled which yields tender meat with nice charred spots. While the chicken cooks, the masala sauce simmers. The sauce has a nice, slow burning heat thanks to a serrano chili. If spice isn’t your thing, substitute a milder pepper or omit it all together.
The only substitution that I made to the original recipe was to sub the heavy cream in the sauce for plain yogurt. I thought that the plain yogurt would work well in this dish to add creaminess based on my success with this Curry and Yogurt Braised Chicken that we love. It turned out just as tasty as I hoped and the plain nonfat yogurt provided guilt-free creaminess.
I served the tikka masala over brown rice with naan on the side. Naan is a must for dipping into the delicious sauce. I usually make homemade naan but was pressed for time so I used Trader Joe’s naan. It was passable but Brandon and I both agreed that the homemade is much better.
One final note, this dish reheats well. It’s one of those things that has even more flavor the second time around. Whether you love Indian food or have never made it at home, this is an awesome recipe to try!
Chicken Tikka Masala
(Recipe source Cook’s Illustrated)
FOR THE CHICKEN
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 (I only used two large breasts and it was fine)
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used fat free)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves , minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
FOR THE MASALA SAUCE
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, minced
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 or plain non-fat yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I omitted)
FOR THE CHICKEN (STEP ONE)
In a small bowl, stir together cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture and press gently to adhere. Cover chicken and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour. While chicken is in fridge, in large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic and ginger.
FOR THE MASALA SAUCE
In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste and garam masala and continue to cook, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream or yogurt and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.
FOR THE CHICKEN (STEP TWO)
While sauce is simmering, Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack over it. Spray rack with cooking spray. Adjust the oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heat) and pre-heat broiler. Dip chicken into the yogurt mixture (you’re looking for a thick coating of yogurt) then arrange chicken on the wire rack. 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.
Let chicken rest for 5 minutes and then cut into 1-inch chunks. Stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, season with salt to taste and serve over rice with naan.
Yield: 4-6 servings