Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chicken Tikka Masala

I love Indian food. Kip doesn't. Every year for my birthday, I ask to go to an Indian restaurant because, you know, it's a day when I've got some leverage. And then this year, Kip ordered chicken tikka masala. He liked it a lot. So did I.

I'm not a dummy. I know when a gift horse looks me in the mouth. I know when it's time to learn to make something at home and stop enjoying some of my favorite food only once a year.

Chicken Tikka Masala
adapted from Happy. Mormon. Housewife
Serves 2-4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Cost: $6.20
chicken: 4.00, onion: .15, tomato paste: .50, cream: 1.25, all those other seasonings that I really have trouble estimating costs for, um, let's say: .30

Note: The original recipe called for a marinade. I don't fully believe in marinades (I can rarely taste that they make a difference in the final product). Instead I coat the chicken with the marinade ingredients (the stuff in step 1). Usually I let it sit for a bit while I mess with other stuff, but I think it could be cooked right off to good effect too. However, if you want to do a marinade, don't let my cynicism stop you. Marinade away with the ingredients in step one.

Another note: I found my garam masala at the Asian market for cheap. You probably can too.

Step 1:

4 smallish chicken breasts, cut into cubes and all the grody bits removed (You can also use dark meat, but Kip prefers white, so we ran with that)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced (or 1/4-1/2 tsp ground ginger)
2 tsp lime juice
dash (or two) cayenne pepper
2 tsp cilantro
1 Tbsp olive oil

Step 2:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion (or a couple dashes onion powder)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp paprika
3 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 C cream
1 can tomato paste
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Step one:

Mince the garlic and ginger. Chop the cilantro. Add lime juice and cayenne pepper. Rub this onto your chicken cubes.

Heat oil in a skillet. Add the chicken cubes and cook until browned on the outside (it's okay if they're a wee bit raw still in the middle; they'll get more cooking in a minute).

Remove from pan and keep warm.

Step 2:

Heat oil. Add onion or onion powder. Cook onion until tender.

Add tumeric, cumin, cardamom, paprika, and garam masala. Heat until fragrant (30 seconds or so).

Add cream, tomato paste, and lemon juice. Whisk.

Add chicken and juices back into pan. Simmer until chicken is fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper (we're usually fairly generous here). If you like your sauce saucier, add more cream or milk. We served ours fairly thick and it was a hit.



  1. Yum. I do notice a marinade difference when I occasionally think in advance to use it - the lime and cilantro "cooks" the meat almost all the way through and it is more tender. That being said, I hardly ever do it. :) Also, I nearly always use chicken thighs when cooking Indian food, I find the breasts much too dry. Problem is they tend to be tough unless simmered for a couple hours in the sauce (which I have done before on a chilly winter day, it smells fantastic.) Usually, though, instead of cooking them in the pan, I put them in a tightly covered glass bowl in the micro and cook on high for 9 minutes (a technique I learned from America's Test kitchen) and then they are so tender and moist and cooked through. I throw them in the sauce and voila!

    1. Our breasts were pretty moist (that sounds really indecent), but I cubed them, so maybe that made it easier to skip the long simmer. Kip just doesn't like thighs. You've told me about this microwave process before and I believe you, but I can't microwave my chicken due to bad childhood memories of microwaved chicken. Maybe sometime we'll have to do it together so you can give me some moral support.

  2. Jeanie, I will hold your hand while you stick that meat in the microwave. Also, your husband is CRAZY. At our house we always fight over the brown meat.

    1. I do not recall every saying he was not crazy:).

  3. This sounds good.

    I have to admit that I have made (and thoroughly enjoyed) a version of this that involves leftover chicken and condensed tomato soup. Yes. I know. Sounds horrendous, but it was actually good.

    This is likely much better though.

    And happy birthday late! Or way late. Or way early!

    1. I think this recipe could totally rock leftover chicken. In fact, I think that's probably somewhat authentic, as the Indian cookbook I have tells you to use leftover Tandoori chicken for the chicken part. Now the tomato soup... maybe not so authentic.

    2. Or maybe it really is authentic...
      "They have been making it at their successive restaurants for a few hundred years, from the days of one of the Mogul emperors of India! The story one hears in UK is that Chicken Tikka Masala, or CTM as it is known in short, is one of those dishes that was invented for British palate by an astute Bangladeshi chef. When a customer in his restaurant was served Chicken Tikka, a well-known Indian dish, he complained, “where is my gravy”? The chef called the dish back to the kitchen, just fried some sliced onion, ginger, garlic, added a little of tinned, Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Tomato Soup, a few more curry spices, added the chicken tikka to it, re-heated it and sent it back to the ignorant customer. He loved it. Chicken Tikka Masala was born!"
      Or maybe I just want to justify making a 3-ingredient dish rather than a 15-ingredient dish. :)

  4. Made this tonight. It was REALLY good. Cream is such heavenly stuff.

    1. Cream is a gift to the world. Glad you liked the recipe:).

  5. So I made this again tonight and it was just as fantastic as I remembered.



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