Monday, February 21, 2011

The Max for the Minimum

Most Indian dishes, like Thai, are best left to the professionals, especially when one lives in NYC where you can order anything for delivery. I have actually taken a Thai cooking class where I learned to make all sorts of things, including a homemade red curry paste, but I have yet to ever make anything from that class...EVER AGAIN. I think the long ingredient lists that are common for both cuisines tend to be a little off putting, even for the more adventurous cooks among us, that we are more than happy to let someone else handle the cooking.

But then I saw what appeared to be a quite abbreviated recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala and I shockingly had most everything in my pantry. It was a long weekend so I figured, why not? Amazingly all I had to buy was the chicken and the yogurt. The recipe is pretty straightforward but should come with a warning: The chicken has to marinate OVERNIGHT. So start this recipe the DAY BEFORE you hope to eat it. (One point for ordering in!) Oh, and regarding the chicken which is meant to be broiled: If you have a tiny stove with a tiny broiler which requires a tiny pan, try TJ Maxx. I stopped into Williams-Sonoma to buy a quarter sheet pan and then turned right around when I saw that they wanted $30 for it. I walked across the street to TJ Maxx where I found the perfect sized pan, though perhaps not as high quality, for $3.99! Yeah! So that's my shopping tip of the day. I also picked up a really good quality "spoonula" for another $3.99. Boom.

Now I don't know how traditional this recipe is because I didn't bother to compare it to any others, but it was pretty darn tasty. And it might not be on the same level as the chicken tikka masala at some of my favorite Indian restaurants, but it was my first time and I think I did pretty well! Next time I think I might pick up some naan to go along with it...but then I'd probably just lazily pick up the rest of the meal while I was at it.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from Food & Wine

Masala Marinade
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed

Masala Sauce
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 large onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons pure chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup heavy cream

Basmati rice or naan, if desired

1. Make the marinade: In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne, and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Prepare the chicken: Using a sharp knife, make a few shallow slashes in each piece of chicken. Add the chicken to the marinade, toss to coat and refrigerate overnight.

3. Preheat the broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade; scrape off as much of the marinade as possible. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and spread the pieces on a baking sheet. Broil the chicken, turning once or twice, until just cooked through and browned in spots, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to cool and cut it into 1-inch pieces.

4. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the almonds and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a plate and let cool completely. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.

5. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garam masala, chile powder, and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cover partially and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce to desired consistency.

6. Stir in the cream and ground almonds and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes longer. Stir in the chicken; simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and serve. Serves about 6.

Make Ahead: The Chicken Tikka Masala can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.

Variation: The marinade and sauce can also be prepared with shrimp, lamb, or vegetables.


stacy said...

Mmmm, I love chicken tikka masala. I can practically drink the sauce. Is that gross?

WendyB said...

Stacy, leave some for me!

Bianca said...

I just made this and it came out fantastic! The boyfriend had thirds! Thanks for sharing.