Saturday, March 31, 2018

Easy Chicken Tikka Masala

I really love Indian food, I've been on a bit of a curry kick recently and this one has always been my favorite. One of the problems I have with making Indian food is that, depending on how stocked your spice cabinet and fridge are, it can cost more per plate than take-out. Especially because many curry recipes call for higher quality cuts of meat which usually dry up in a long simmer, tend to be more mild in flavor and so get lost in the heavy spices, and really are not in the spirit of a good curry which would use every part of an animal possible for the dish.

I wanted to solve some of these problems by making a recipe that mostly relies on dried herbs and powders. While fresh is preferable, it can be harder to find, depending on your local grocer and the season, and having the dried version on hand can make this a much easier recipe to make without having to plan a separate shopping trip. Also, I don't tend to cook Indian flavors every day, so when I buy fresh, some ingredients can go to waste.


1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
1 C whole milk yogurt*
4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 tbsp ghee or butter
1 medium onion, diced
1½ tsp salt
½ C tomato paste
2 tsp cardamom powder
½ tsp red pepper flakes
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 C heavy cream
¾ C fresh cilantro, chopped (plus some sprigs for garnish)


Mix together the garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, and cumin together in a bowl. Stir half that mixture, 2 tbsps, into the yogurt. Pour the marinade into a zip top bag, add the chicken thighs, and smosh around to make sure you have even coverage on the chicken. Place in the fridge and let marinate for 4-6 hrs.

In a large, heavy bottom stock pot or dutch oven, melt the ghee over medium heat and add the onion, salt, tomato paste, cadmium, and red pepper. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and the tomato starts to brown. Stir in the remaining half of your spice mixture and fry them, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes, or until they are browned, but not burnt. Your kitchen should smell amazing by now.

Add the can of tomatoes, with the juice. Bring to a simmer and and stir, making sure you are scraping and browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Those bits are the most flavorful bits and you don't want to leave them behind. Once you have a simmer going, pour in the cream, and add the chopped cilantro. Bring it back up to a simmer and stir occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 20-30 minutes, depending on how you like it. I like the sauce to be completely smooth, so I use an immersion blender here to get a velvety consistency. 

While the sauce reduces, preheat your broiler on high. Place the marinated chicken thighs on a cooling rack placed on a foil lined baking sheet. Broil the chicken on high for 10 minutes, or until the some areas on the chicken start to blacken.

Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, it won't be cooked all the way through yet. Add to the sauce and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve with rice and fresh cilantro sprigs.

*Whole milk yogurt will work best in this, but use whatever plain yogurt you can find.

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