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You know what is ridiculous? Chicken Tikka Masala take-out from an Indian restaurant. Whenever we order this, we only get about four pieces of chicken with a lot of sauce. It's like I'm just buying a tub of sauce to dip my naan in. This is why I've decided to make my own chicken tikka masala. It's a lot of spices, yes, but once you have your cupboard stocked, you'll be able to make a ton of other things too. (Also it might help if you knew the Chopping Block... because that's where all my spices came from. :D)
So over at my place, we're kind of weird. We have a weekly menu where we only eat one thing all week. Seriously! That's how we do it here. This week it was chicken tikka masala, so I've made this about four times this week. Because I am very inexperienced with Indian cooking, I had to try a bunch of different recipes until I finally conjured up one that suited my taste. First I tried Indian Simmer's recipe, but it was just missing a lot of flavors, and it was way too spicy. So I learned that I cannot take 2 teaspoons of pepper. Can you? Maybe. Then I poked around at the Pioneer Woman's recipe, but it was almost the same as Indian Simmer's recipe in terms of spices. I watched this video by this guy. His recipe has so many more spices! Ahh! This must be it, right? All those missing flavors I'm trying to find? But his site wasn't that helpful. It wasn't what he showed in the video (where he didn't really give me any measurements). So I watched this really helpful video from Good Eats on Indian cooking! With all that stuff I made up my own recipe, and after a couple of tweeks, here it is!
2 lbs. boneless chicken breast and/or thighs, cut into 1" cubes
1/4 cup yogurt
3 tsp minced ginger
3 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp lemon juice
5 tomatoes, chopped
1 - 2 tbs cashews (or almonds or walnuts)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp garlic paste
1/4 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cardamom powder (or 2 crushed cardamom)
Salt To Taste
2 tbp sugar
1 tsp fenugreek powder
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup cream
1. Whisk all of the ingredients in the "chicken" section together in a large bowl. Marinate for at least and hour. You can also marinate it overnight in the refrigerator, but if you remember Serious Eat's note about mushy chicken, you might want to marinate it for a maximum of four hours.
2. Preheat oven to broil. Skewer the chicken pieces and place them on a 1/4 sheet lined with foil. Place the chicken about 10-12 inches below a broiler for 7 minutes per side (a total of 14 minutes). Watch carefully so as not to totally char the chicken. It should have slightly blackened edges. Remove from oven.
Cooked chicken! My oven is kind of not-so-great. I broiled it, and there was very little char! Boo!
3. While the chicken is broiling, make the sauce. In a hot heavy pot, add in a tablespoon of oil. Add onions, nuts, ginger and garlic paste and sauté. Once the onions are evenly cooked and translucent (~5 minutes), add in all the spices including the lemon juice (re: the chili powder, cloves, coriander, cumin, cardamom, salt, sugar, fenugreek powder and lemon juice). Add some water until all the masalas mix into a thick paste. Cook for several minutes, making sure not to burn the masalas (or else it'll turn bitter).
Onions, nuts, ginger, and garlic being sauteed.
Cooking/toasting the masalas for a more fragrant taste.
4. Pour in your tomatoes into the pot. Cook over low heat until reduced to a thick sauce. Remove from heat and put into a blender. Blend the sauce until it's a uniform smooth texture. Pour sauce back into pot. Add cream. Stir until well incorporated.
I tried using canned tomatoes once, and it just wasn't as good as fresh tomatoes. I don't know why!
Blended! You can see me in the blender along with an egg and yogurt. Good thing I wasn't naked, right?
After the cream was added. Sometimes when I want a thicker sauce, I'll throw in some yogurt in there.
5. De-skewer your chicken and put them into the sauce. Give it a quick stir, and you're ready to serve.
Of course this recipe is super un-authentic because I am totally not even close to being Indian or have anyone Indian eat it, but you don't have to tell people that!