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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chicken Tikka Masala

It’s been a couple of years that Tanya, Camilla and I and our families get together before Christmas for a potluck dinner. We used to work at the same company but not anymore, so we catch up with personal things and see the kids growing up. We also go for walks and scrap booking (that has been a while!).
Every year we had a food “theme”. We had fondue, pasta and this year, Indian food. Camilla made keema and basmati rice. Tanya made egg curry and dahl. I made saffron rice and chicken tikka masala. Everything was to die for!

This is a simplified version of the chicken tikka masala. You can make your own garam masala, which I usually do. I prefer to use equal amounts of cream and and half and half instead of cream only. The final dish turns out lighter and a little thinner than the original. I also use cayenne pepper instead of chilies, that way it’s easier to control the spiciness. Today I am serving the dish with cashew nuts and saffron rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 6 to 8

Chicken Tikka
1/2 teaspoon  ground cumin  
1/2 teaspoon  ground coriander  
1/4 teaspoon  cayenne pepper  
1 teaspoon  sea salt  
2 pounds  boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in 1” cubes 
1 cup  plain yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil  
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon  grated fresh ginger  

Masala Sauce
2 tablespoons  vegetable oil  
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger  
1 fresh Serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced or 1 teaspoon cayenne (for more heat, leave seeds on, for less heat add less pepper with no seeds or ¼ teaspoon cayenne)
1 tablespoon  tomato paste
1 tablespoon  garam masala
1 can diced tomatoes
1 ½ cup water 
½ teaspoon sea salt  
½ cup  heavy cream or half and half
1/4 cup  chopped fresh cilantro leaves  

Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt in small bowl. In large resalable plastic bag, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger and the spice mixture. Add to chicken to bag. Seal and shake well to cover the chicken thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat, add onion and cook, about 10 minutes or until it starts browning. While the onion is cooking, mix garlic, ginger, pepper, tomato paste and garam masala in a small bowl. Remove onion from pan and add the chicken. Discard the marinade. Sautee chicken until all sides are sealed, about 5 minutes. Return onion and spice mix to pan, stir and cook about 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add canned tomatoes, water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes. Stir in cream or half and half and cilantro just before serving. Adjust salt.

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