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Jul 31, 2007 06:51 PM

chicken tikka masala

Anyone ever eaten at Tandoori Chicken USA in AL Sobrante? They make a fine Chicken Tikka Masala. I'd love to duplicate the rich, complex sauce.

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  1. I have not been but here is a great recipe for chicken tikka masala:

    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 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
    1/4 cup blanched whole almonds
    1 large onion, finely chopped
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
    1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
    1 teaspoon pure chile powder
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    One 35-ounce can peeled tomatoes, finely chopped, juices reserved
    Pinch of sugar
    1 cup heavy cream

    directions: In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper.
    Add the chicken to the marinade, turn to coat and refrigerate overnight.

    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. 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 and cut it into 2-inch pieces. I sometimes prefer to grill the chicken outdoors over charcoal - less of a mess and adds a great flavor.
    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. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.
    In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of 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. Add 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 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

    14 Replies
    1. re: howchow

      I am a little confused... I always translate "lal mirchi" (the red spicy chili powder stuff used in Indian cooking) as Cayenne Pepper and thought that lal mirchi is just chilis ground up. They're different? What exactly are chili pepper and cayenne pepper? WOuld you be okay in just using 1 1/4 tsp "lal mirchi"?

      1. re: arifa

        Cayenne is an actual variety of pepper, dried and ground up. Indian chile pepper, at least the kinds I've used, is much more potent and a darker red color, but I don't know what kinds of peppers it's made from. Back in my college days, I substituted Indian chile powder one-to-one in a red beans and rice recipe that called for cayenne pepper, and my former roommates still remind me that it was practically inedible. We had to eat it cold out of the fridge mixed with tons of white rice and we were still crying.

        1. re: arifa

          I really don't know. Probably they are just different degrees of heat - and different chilis are used in each...same purpose though - that would be fine. Perhaps add half the amount and continue to add to desired heat...I prefer it spicy.

          1. re: howchow

            Cook's Illustrated has THE BEST recipe for it in it's new issue. So good!

            1. re: Becca Porter

              how does it differ from the recipe i posted? just curious - i don't get cook's illustrated, thanks.

              1. re: howchow

                wondering if one could substitue yogurt for the cream? I love tikka masala but trying to avoid fat as much as possible since I spent vacation alternating pizza and ice cream (some days I had both)! Thinking a greek style yogurt.

                1. re: Densible

                  I have made several Indian recipes with yogurt, so I say go ahead.

                  1. re: Megiac

                    great-will make it this weekend.

                  2. re: Densible

                    I say "yes" as well, but be careful to keep it below a boil.

                    1. re: Densible

                      If you are going for authenticity then (Greek) yoghurt would be better than sour cream. But if you like the way sour cream tastes then you could just use that.

                    2. re: howchow

                      The Cook's Illustrated recipe is very much like yours. And it's delicious.

                2. re: arifa

                  desi laal mirchi in N. Indian cooking would be either these small jingle bell shaped mirchis that are the size of grapes, or somepeople (like me) prefer to use Kashmiri laal mirchi (it is less hot by desi standards but has a lot of flavor). The cayenne pepper is just from a totally different and non-desi variety of mirch. I don't know if one could tell the difference cuz I never tried to use cayenne pepper in desi cooking.

                3. re: howchow

                  My SO and I just made this tonight - but without almonds and using light cream. It's what I had in the house. Wow! This is now in the household rotation. We couldn't stop talking about how good this was - just about each bite - and its one of the few meals that leftovers are being looked forward to by my husband. I've been sick since yesterday, so I was pretty surprised when I got up and got seconds - the most movement since I made the marinade yesterday.

                  1. re: TampaAurora

                    Now if you serve tikka (even better without the masala part - just as kebab-type thingies) it with Nigella's onion salad, your heads will explode with wonder and delight! I'm sure it's online somewhere - prob on her site. If not, I'll be glad to paraphrase.

                4. The latest edition of Cook's Illustrated has a rendition of chicken takka masala. I can't vouch for it's deliciousness, though, because I haven't tried it.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Kiyah

                    I tried it tonight and it is quite delicious.

                    1. re: Brian S

                      I second that emotion - made it last night and it is really fantastic. Just finished my lunch leftovers in fact - the whole office is coming by to see what the delicious smell is!

                      And it's a cinch to prepare to boot.

                    2. re: Kiyah

                      I made the CI version of Chicken Tikka Masala again this week, and it's a sure fire winner. Great flavor, easy enough to cook on a weeknight. The way they prepare the chicken is the key. Also note, I rarely if ever order this dish when out because it's a.) Not authentic and b.) usually not very good. This recipe has turned my notion of this dish upside down. It's bright, flavorful, and homey.

                      So, without further adieu, here's the recipe:

                      Chicken Tikka Masala


                      This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the chile. If you prefer, substitute 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for the garam masala. The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken. Serve with basmati rice.

                      Serves 4 to 6

                      Chicken Tikka

                      1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
                      1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
                      1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
                      1 teaspoon table salt
                      2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat
                      1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (see note above)
                      2 tablespoons vegetable oil
                      2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
                      1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

                      Masala Sauce

                      3 tablespoons vegetable oil
                      1 medium onion , diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
                      2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
                      2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
                      1 fresh serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note above)
                      1 tablespoon tomato paste
                      1 tablespoon garam masala (see note above)
                      1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
                      2 teaspoons sugar
                      1/2 teaspoon table 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 chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk 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 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 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 upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read 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 (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

                      1. re: heWho

                        Great recipe! Made this with a friend last night. It was my first time making this at home (not ordering it out), and I was impressed. Had the leftovers for lunch today.

                        Next round, I'm trying a version another friend sent from the NYT, which includes apricots.

                        1. re: kattyeyes

                          I'm glad to hear you liked it! I actually made this again last week and had almost forgotten what a great recipe this is. It also keeps remarkably well. If the NYT recipe comes out good, definitely post it here!

                          1. re: kattyeyes

                            This is a foolproof recipe.
                            Round one, we made it with turkey.
                            Round two, I made it with chicken.
                            Today I made it with pork.
                            I prefer to use 1/2 the can of tomatoes instead of the whole thing.
                            Throwing raisins and almonds in there is a nice idea, too.
                            Does anyone else seem to run out of yogurt by the time you're done? :)
                            I get carried away earlier on and am left trying to make do with what's left.

                      2. Thanks so much, sounds delicious and I will make this weekend!

                        1. I made the new Cook's Illustrated recipe last night, too. Wow! It's terrific and not hard to do. Company worthy.

                          1. Bear in mind there is no such thing as an authentic tikka masala, chicken or otherwise.

                            It was invented in the UK for Brit tastes of the time (and is still pretty popular here with folk wanting bland, unchallenging Indian-esque food)

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Brit on a Trip

                              I must have miss the part where anyone discussed the authenticity of chicken tikka masala. Surely the thread is about finding a recipe for it?

                              1. re: eurotrashwonton

                                Smart response.

                                Perhaps you'll be able to give the OP a recipe that will match their experience. Personally I have no idea what their experience was but seeing as you're smart, I'm sure you do.

                                1. re: Harters

                                  Yeah, pretty snippy. I think it's pretty interesting that Brit on a Trip posted the background of tikka masala. Invented in curry restaurants in Britain by making a rich sauce to pour over chicken tikka.

                                  BoaTrip doesn't say it's bad or not tasty or anything like that.

                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                    I'd rarely use wikipedia as "evidence" but here's the relevent link

                                    The point about lack of authenticity of a recipe is clear to me. It means there's no "gold standard" base line from which to work. The OP has had a fine taste experience but because of the adaptations over time and across countries it may be a totally different dish from the dish I've experienced.

                                    However, if I was trying to mimic a British Indian restaurant tikka masala, this is what I'd do (for 2 people):

                                    I make a "stock curry sauce" in a 8 portion quantity and freeze then in 2-portion quantities. Put 50gr ginger root, 50gr garlic in a food processor with about 275ml water and whizz till smooth. Put that in a pan with another 750ml water and 900gr chopped onions and simmer with the lid on for 45 minutes. Cool it and then whizz it again till smooth. Whizz a 225gr can of tomatoes until smooth. Put this in a pan with some oil, tomato puree and a teaspoon each of paprika and turmeric. Cook for 10 minutes then add the onion mixture. Cook for 20 minutes, skimming off any scum. Now it can be frozen as a basis to try an replicate many of the dishes at your neighbourhood Indian restaurant in the UK.

                                    When you're ready to make your chicken tikka masala, cut the chciken into pieces and marinate them for a few hours in yoghurt, a little chilli powder, salt and cooking oil - a pinch of yellow food colouring can be added. Then cook them in the oven till done.

                                    Meanwhile, you'll have defrosted a 2-person portion of curry sauce. Heat this for about 5 minutes with some paprika, salt, little bit of chill powder, good pinch of garam masala and cumin & a pinch of red colouring (for the lurid colour that seems to be essential). Add the chicken and about three tablespoons of cream.

                                    And there you are, a classic Brit restaurant dish which may be nothing like the OP's experience, In fact, I hope it isnt. Chicken tikka masala is bland and boring - I'd never order it, but it's soooo popular.

                              2. re: Brit on a Trip

                                murgh makhani (butter chicken) isn't a brit invention ,,,, and is very similar to ctm....

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  As in the Wiki article I linked to, murgh makhani is thought to be the origin of ctm. And, of course, is a far better dish.