Monday, April 13, 2015

Chicken Tikka Masala


Britain's favorite dish isn't mine. But I persevere. I play around with spices. Sometimes it works and other times my capricious mood doesn't quite make it. This time the gravy takes on a shade of orange red. Maybe it's because I puree the tomatoes before they become pulp. The color looks good to me. My last effort resulted in a greenish gravy. And the time before that I made a delicious brown version. So much for color coordination. 

I always start with the basic Indian quartet of onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. The four meld together to make a thick gravy. It goes like this..brown onions till golden, drop in chopped ginger garlic and lastly saute the three with chopped tomatoes. Every time! Then come the additions. Finely chopped spinach, cilantro or fenugreek leaves. All the above gets whirled in a blender. This thick puree is then diluted with cream and milk. Pan fried or grilled chicken pieces (tikka) are added to this rich gravy and have chicken tikka masala. 

Serves 4

1 pound boneless skinless Chicken Thighs 
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder
1/2 teaspoon Cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon Garam masala 
1 teaspoon Garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon Ginger paste 
1/4 cup Yogurt
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
4 tablespoons Canola oil
2 big Onions
1 teaspoon Garlic paste
1 teaspoon Ginger paste
2 Tomatoes 
1 teaspoon Chile powder 
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric 
1 teaspoon Coriander powder
1 teaspoon Garam masala 
1/2 cup Cilantro 
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
1/2 cup Cream
1/2 cup Milk

Wash, dry and trim chicken thighs of all visible fat. 

Marinate thighs in chile powder, cumin powder, garam masala, garlic and ginger paste, yogurt and salt. Massage thighs in this marinade so all pieces are well seasoned. Marinate for 4-5 hours or overnight for best flavor. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Heat 2 tablespoons of Canola oil in a nonstick pan.

Add chicken thighs and pan fry pieces till they are golden brown. You might have to do this in two batches. Once the chicken has cooled, chop thighs into 1 inch pieces and keep aside.

Chop onions into small dice.

Chop tomatoes into small dice.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven. 

Add onion and saute till golden brown. 

Add garlic and ginger paste and stir for a minute.

The tomatoes, spices, seasonings and cilantro are added at this point. Let them saute and turn to mush.

Spoon the onion tomato mix into a blender. Puree till somewhat smooth. You might have to add a little water to facilitate blending.

Return puree to Dutch oven and saute over a low flame for a few minutes.

Add cream and milk and let gravy simmer over low flame for a few minutes.

Add chicken pieces to gravy and let them simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve chicken tikka masala with roti or rice.

Red orange works well. At least for today. Then again all those other shades taste delicious too!