Saturday, April 12, 2008

April 12: Chicken Tikka Masala

I've never had an opportunity to try a lot of Indian food, but I really like what I've had, so I'm looking forward to this. I found it on AOL Food, and just as you would imagine from its origin, there are no particularly exotic or difficult to find ingredients.

There's something to be said for that. Most people that I know don't have time to seek out six exotic ingredients from three different sources, plus prep and cook, all for a Tuesday night dinner. As I've said, my goal is for a weeknight dinner is for dinner to be made, consumed, and cleaned up from in an hour and a half. I don't always make it, but it's made me a better, more efficient cook and a whole lot more thoughtful about what ends up in my kitchen repertoire.

This has a whole lot of ingredients, but almost all of them are things I keep on hand, with the exception of garam masala, an Indian spice blend that you can find in most well-stocked supermarkets, and most certainly in Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and places like that.

It also calls for a serrano pepper. Serranos are small, usually green, bullet-shaped hot peppers. Their seeds are smaller and hotter than jalapenos, a quicker, hotter burn than a jalapeno, and with more unapologetic heat than a grassy-tasting jalapeno. I like them a lot in a hot salsa, because, you know, I like to cry when I eat, and also, because they are more consistent in their hotness than a jalapeno. Some jalapenos really just have all the firepower of a green bell pepper, which I find disappointing.

Serve this over hot steamed white rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne
1 Teaspoon Table Salt
2 LBS Boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 CUP Plain whole-milk yogurt
2 Tablespoon Vegetable oil
2 Medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger

3 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 Medium onion diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 Medium garlic cloves minced or pressed
2 Teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 Serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced
1 Tablespoon Tomato paste
1 Tablespoon Garam masala
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 Teaspoon Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2/3 Cup Heavy cream
1/4 Cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. For the Chicken -- Combine cumin coriander cayenne and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with spice mixture - pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. In large bowl mix together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger set aside.

2. For the Sauce -- Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook stirring frequently until light golden, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste and garam masala; cook stirring frequently about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers -- adjust oven rack to the upper-middle position. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Broil chicken until thickest parts are fully cooked on digital thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce. Stir in cilantro adjusting seasoning with salt and serve.

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