Friday, January 11, 2008

A Pseudo-Willing Collaborator: Chicken Tikka Masala

I had volleyball last night, so R was kind enough to document his preparation of dinner - chicken tikka masala. Before I left he asked, "ok - what part do you want me to photograph?" My reply: "when in doubt, take a picture". He took about 50 pictures.

Ever since working near Spitalfields Market in London, R made finding a good recipe for tikka masala and preparing it regularly a priority. Honestly, it is a bit time consuming. But, if you're in the mood for Indian food, it's worth it!

Update: I'm told that Tikka Masala was actually created in the UK.

1 cup yogourt (plain)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
4 tsp salt, or to taste
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
4 long skewers (I don't use skewers)
1 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
3 tsp salt, or to taste (I don't include)
1 eight oz. can of tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I don't include)


In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 tsp cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger and salt.

Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour

The directions, which I don't follow, say: preheat grill for high heat. Lightly oil grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 4 minutes on each side.

I put a bit of oil in a large frying pan and fry the chicken in there.

BUT - before putting the chicken into the frying pan. I melt butter (actually, I use oil) in a heavy skillet (our wok, our skillet options are limited). Saute garlic and jalapeno for one minute.

Then season it with 2 tsp cumin, paprika and salt (again, I don't think it needs salt).

Stir in tomato sauce

Add cream. Here we used half and half. The cream I use varies...sometimes 18%. I know that heavy cream is closer to 36% fat, but I find 18% is sufficient. The cream and tomato may separate a bit, but the end product is good (in my opinion). Just note (I'm probably the only one that would make this mistake): even if it is with the best of intentions - don't use anything like Nutriwhip. It makes the recipe taste completely different and somewhat gross. Ah well, you live and you learn.

Simmer the tomato and cream mixture for about 15-20 minutes. Chicken is frying at the same time (time start of chicken frying with the 15-20 minute sauce simmer in mind).

After 15-20 minutes, add cooked chicken to sauce.

Simmer (or as R likes to call it, "soak") for another 10 minutes.

Serve with rice - basmati or jasmine...we use Italian. As long as it's fairly thick-grained rice.



Dana said...

Mmm... Chicken tikka I love thee... Looks delish!

Anonymous said...

R did a nice job with the pics. It looks really good. Hope volley ball is going well! :)

Kate said...

Wow! That looks fantastic! Love the step by step pictures. Can't wait to try this.

PG said...

dana - thanks for stopping by! It is a very good dish.

s-girl - I'll let R know you said so. He'll be pleased to get the feedback :).

kate - thanks for stopping by. Let me know how it goes for you!

Rich said...

Hey Psychgrad. Bet that tasted great, but you have to lose that Italian style rice. Gotta get some long grain basmanti. That being said, I have made plenty of curry over shorter grained rice. A cool trick is to saute the dry rice in the pan with butter until it starts to get a little color, then add the water to cook. It brings out the nuttiness of a good basmate and gives great texture. BTW a bit more fat would help keep the sauce together, but to each their own, right? ;-)

PG said...

Richard - is this Richard as in "Rich" from my Pho posts? Yeah..yeah...not Basmati...I know. Also not full cream. I comment on both of these aspects throughout the post.

The thing with the Basmati...and this is only my issue. I used to buy a big bag of it. As it happened, when I went to go make it (about a year ago), many of the little grains of rice were actually little bugs. I know this isn't true of all basmati rice - but it really grossed me out. I love Basmati rice (and the popcorn-like smell of it). But, I'm having a hard time disassociating the grain of rice from the little bugs. I'll get over it soon.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the tip - I'll have to try it.

Anonymous said...

Yep I wandered back, but I didn't realize I changed my nickname. You totally covered the cream issue. I was just saying it is kind of a sacrifice of the lower fat content. My girlfriend gives me dirty looks for every drop of cream and ounce of butter in my coking so I know about sacrifice and broken sauces. I have found some decent ways to cheat, by using starches,and even egg yolks as emulsifiers at times. both of whick still end up just putting the fat back in. As I say,to each their own.

As for the Basmati,I used to be only able to get the 10lb bags. So I know all about those little bugs. Fortunately I can get small bags at the local markets now. Hard to find these up your way?

PG said...

I think I've seem smaller bags. Next time I shop for rice, I'll take a closer look.

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