Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 4 – 6
This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt (like Brown Cow brand), but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For spicy dish, leave the ribs and seeds in the chili; for a mild dish, remove them. Serve with rice.
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne (ground red pepper)
1 teaspoon salt
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 ¼ cup)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 serrano chili, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
For the Chicken: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 – 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil and garlic and set aside.
For the Sauce: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 – 10 minutes. Add garlic, chili, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt; bring to a 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.
While the 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 – 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.
Let the chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in the sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.
Make ahead tips: The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. I would think it could be frozen as long as you don’t add the cream until after it’s defrosted and heated.
I had to look at 4 grocery stores before I found garam masala. Look for it in the McCormick spice section. I think I found it at Safeway. Not all stores carry whole milk yogurt either. I found it in the organic dairy section at Raley’s.
The original recipe, in Cook’s Illustrated magazine (Sept./Oct. 2007), calls for 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger in the yogurt mixture and 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger in the masala sauce (added with garlic and chili), but I really don’t like ginger in anything but cookies.