Monday, July 11, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

This meal was so good and really simple to make. We don't get to eat Indian food a lot but we love it every time we do. We both love spice, especially the different kind of heat you get with Indian food. Chris was actually surprised that the heat in the dish came from a serrano pepper, which is the same pepper I use in salsa and other Mexican food. We decided that the cooling Indian ingredients (yogurt, ginger, coriander) really balance it out so it's not the same "burn your tongue" kind of spice. Don't get me wrong, this is really spicy the way I made it. If you're not spice-lovers like us, you can just leave out the serrano pepper. This recipe comes from the Pioneer Woman and she credits Pastor Ryan, who must know a thing or two about cooking. I'd suggest making a point to try this one out and don't be intimidated by the ingredients - you can find them all at your regular grocery store.

Time: 45 minutes, plus an hour or so for marinating
Serves: 2

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 small container of plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • kosher salt
  • butter
  • 1/2 of a large onion (or one small one)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger*
  • 1 small serrano pepper (optional, but highly recommended
  • 1 1/2 TBSP of Garam Masala (you can find this in the spice aisle)
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 TBSP sugar
  • 1/3 cup of half and half
  • 1 cup of white rice (I like Texmati)
  • 1/2 TBSP Tumeric (also in the spice aisle)
  • 1/3 cup of frozen peas
  1. Trim the fat from your chicken breasts and slice in half horizontally, to butterfly them into thin, flat pieces.
  2. Season the chicken breasts with 3-4 tsp of kosher salt, and 2-3 tsp each of coriander and cumin. You don't have to be precise about this - you can just shake on the seasonings until it looks right to you.
  3. If you have time for marinating, put your seasoned chicken breasts into a bowl with the small container of plain yogurt (about 3/4 of a cup I believe) and marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours. If you don't have time to marinate, just lay your chicken breasts on a foil-lined baking sheet, coat them in yogurt, and skip to the next step.
  4. When you're ready to cook the chicken (about 45 minutes before dinner), turn your oven to broil with the rack just above the middle of the oven. 
  5. Lay your chicken out on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 7-10 minutes. Watch carefully so as not to totally char the chicken. It should have slightly blackened edges when you take it out to flip it. Once it's browned, take the chicken out and flip it over. Cook for 7-10 minutes on the second side too, then take it out and set aside to cool.
  6. While your chicken is cooking, peel and dice your half an onion and peel and finely chop your garlic.
  7. Use a small teaspoon to peel off the outer skin of your ginger and finely chop that. 
  8. Remove the stem and finely chop your serrano pepper if you're using it.
  1. In a large skillet melt 1 TBSP of butter over medium-high heat. 
  2. When the butter melts, toss in the onions and stir.
  3. After the onions cook for a bit, add your garlic and ginger and stir again.
  4. Add a 1/2 TBSP salt, 1 1/2 TBSP Garam Masala and your diced serrano pepper (if using) and stir again.
  5. Add 3/4 of your can of diced tomatoes and continue cooking and stirring, scraping the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add about 1/2 TBSP sugar and let this mixture simmer on medium for about 5 minutes while you start the rice.
  7. To a saucepan, add 1 cup of rice, 1 3/4 cup of water or chicken broth, 1 TBSP of butter and 1/2 tsp salt. Don't stir this, just put it over high heat until the water starts boiling.
  8. Once the water boils, cover the saucepan with a lid or foil and turn the heat down to the lowest setting on your stove. Set a timer for 15 minutes.
  9. After the Tikka Masala sauce has had a chance to simmer for a little bit, add in the 1/3 cup of half and half. 
  10. Chop up your chicken breasts into bite-sized chunks and stir them into the Tikka Masala sauce. Let the dish simmer while the rice finishes cooking.
  11. Just before serving, chop up some fresh cilantro (about 3 TBSP) and add to the dish, stirring again.
  12. When your rice timer goes off, turn off the heat and let it steam for a couple of minutes. When you're ready to eat, remove the lid and use a fork to fluff and stir the rice. Add your frozen peas now if you're using them.
  13. Serve the chicken on top of a bed of rice.

* Fresh Ginger - If you haven't used this before, you may have seen it at the grocery and wondered what on earth it is. It's a great ingredient to have on hand for Indian and Asian dishes. I usually peel mine and then store it in the freezer so I can use it slowly. It's pretty easy to chop it once it's peeled, even if it's still frozen.

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