Indian food is my favorite cuisine – the flavors are so complex and warm. Chicken tikka masala is a great introductory dish for someone unfamiliar with Indian cuisine. The familiar tomato based sauce and glorious spicy smell will win over even the most suspicious and picky eater! This recipe is an adaptation from Christine Ha’s Recipes from my Home Kitchen, which Merideth got me for Christmas this past year! An “adaptation” because it has my new favorite secret ingredient: fenugreek! When I was in Boston earlier this spring, I happened to grab a barstool next to a Nepalese chef visit for “research” (excellent excuse to tour Boston’s culinary scene!). I told him about my favorite tikka masala dish and he gave me three suggestions: 1) marinate the chicken overnight instead of the hour that this recipe instructs; 2) don’t discard the marinade when adding in the chicken; and 3), use fenugreek! I added 1 tablespoon to have a similar balance with the other spices.
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground red pepper (I substituted red pepper flakes once, but I don’t recommend it since the flavors do not blend as well).
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon peeled, minced ginger (I typically grate it)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Top with cilantro (optional)
1) In large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of the cumin (half), red pepper, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Add the chicken and marinate overnight (or at least one hour).
2) In a large saucepan, melt the butter, stir in garlic, and cook. Add paprika , remaining cumin, and salt to taste. Stir in the tomato sauce and cream and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
3) Add the chicken to the simmering sauce for an additional 10 minutes. Serve over basmati rice. I also serve it with fresh baked naan (more info on naan to come)!
For this dish, we paired with a nice merlot. Not toobold, but complimented the flavors nicely with it’s slightly spicy flavor and hints of berries–it matched the spiciness of the dish while also adding calming notes between bites.