My boys were the inspiration for this dish being added to the Kitchen 511 files. A few summers ago, Max and his friend Jessica decided to try their hands at Chicken Tikka Masala. They whipped it up one night while I was at the hospital with Bella--she was fine, just a seriously bad case of tonsillitis, and we didn't return home until well after midnight. Knowing we’d be hungry, they did the shopping, searched for a recipe and cooked a delicious dinner of Chicken Tikka Masala and saffron-infused rice. And they waited for us before sitting down to eat! It was a special meal and one that Bella and I will always remember. Not long after, Christian was visiting and craving Chicken Tikka Masala (Indian food is his favorite cuisine); and he tracked down another delicious recipe on Epicurious. The version below is a combination of the best of both recipes. (They were quite similar to begin with.) I've since made it a number of times. I've also made just the spiced grilled chicken sans the sauce and served it with lots of lemon wedges and rice (in which case you only need to follow Steps 1, 2 & 6.) When making it with the sauce, I serve it with naan, as well. I like it with sautéed haricots verts, too. (That recipe will follow later.)
- 6 garlic cloves, finely grated
- 4 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
- 4 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 3/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped (plus extra sprigs for garnish)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups thick plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt (I start with less and add as needed)
- 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise and then cubed (for skewering and grilling)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 6 cardamom pods, crushed
- 2 dried chiles de árbol or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (I use San Marzano)
- 2 cups heavy cream (I sometimes substitute coconut milk)
- Rice (for serving)
- Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, cumin, half of the chopped cilantro and lemon juice in a small bowl.
- In a separate and larger bowl, whisk yogurt, salt, and half of the above spice mixture; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4-6 hours (or overnight). Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.
- Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and chiles and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes.
- Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them as you add them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.
- Add cream and additional chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, turn grill on high. Thread chicken pieces on large skewers. Lightly oil grill grates and place skewers on grill until chicken begins to blacken in spots (4-5 minutes per side).
- Add grilled chicken pieces to sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
- Serve with rice, cilantro sprigs and naan.