Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chicken Tikka Masala

Can I tell you why I love Cooks Illustrated magazine? 
First, the instruction illustrations are very useful. Additionlly, on the back of every issue is a beautiful drawing the of several different varieties of a fruit or vegetable.  Seriously, they are lovely enough to frame.

Second, in their Quick Tips section, they publish nifty reader cooking hints to simplify complicated or annoying cooking activities.  For instance….

Use an apple slicer to chop nuts.

Use a cork screw to hook the pit of an open avocado.

Use a baby carrot to scroll through computer screen recipes while cooking (to keep your dirty hands on the screen).

People are so resourceful.  And creative.

Third, they offer versions of recipes to make an intimidating dish more manageable.

Like the Chicken Tikka Masala Architect made for our Wednesday night dinner.

Growing up, if someone would have said to me “would you like some Chicken Tikka Masala” I would have asked if it involved a meatball.  Further, if I would have asked my mother or grandmother to make Chicken Tikka Masala, they would have sent me directly to Saint Francis Xavier Church to be sprinkled with Holy Water because 1) it’s not Italian and 2) it’s not Irish. 

Turns out, Chicken Tikka Masala may not be traditionally Indian either.  Chicken Tikka is of course, purely Indian with its yummy bits of chicken rubbed with Indian spices baked to perfection in a tandoor oven. But, as the “story” goes, the Masala part was introduced by a British chef who wanted to make the Chicken Tikka less dry, so he incorporated a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup and some yogurt…hence the Masala part.  This tale sounds a little dicey to me, but that’s the story on the Internet and you know “they can’t say anything on the Internet that isn’t true.”  At least that’s what the State Farm commercial says.

Architect’s version of Chicken Tikka Masala was delicious.  Chicken breasts are flavored with traditional Indian spices – cumin, coriander, cayenne – that completely bewitch the senses.   Once broiled to perfection, the chicken is combined with a creamy, yet spicy, tomato-yogurt sauce.  Pure bliss on a plate.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Cooks Illustrated

For the Chicken Tikka
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon table salt
2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts
1 cup plain WHOLE MILK yogurt

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
(Tip…if you put fresh ginger in the freezer for an hour or two, it will be easier to grate because it will be less stringy)

For the Masala Sauce
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, minced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
I Tablespoon garam masala
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (San Marzano are so tasty)
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
¼ cup of fresh chopped cilantro leaves

To prepare the chicken:  Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl.  Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so the spices adhere.  Place chicken on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.  In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

To prepare the sauce:  Heat oil in a 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, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, salt; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 15 mintues, stirring occasionally.  Stir in cream and return to simmer.  Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

While the sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches form heating element) and heat broiler.  Using tongs, dip chicken into the yogurt mixture and arrange on a wire rack in a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan.  Discard excess yogurt mixture.  Broil chicken until the thickest parts are fully cooked and the chicken is slightly charred in spots, about 15-18 minutes, flipping halfway through.  I suppose you could also grill the chicken.  

Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then cut in bite size chunks and stir into the warm sauce.  Stir in cilantro.  Serve topped on rice.

As usual, we had a delicious salad served in the traveling salad bowl, a nice bottle of red wine and a Lemon Yogurt Cake for dessert...more on that later.  We also watched a movie....

1 comment:

ZxM Style-Squared said...

That looks so delicious, I would love to try it;)