Creamy Chicken Tikka Masala

“A gorgeous culmination of fragrant and bold spices and seasonings that appeals to every taste on the spectrum. It’s a dish that’s sure to fill your house with very complex and robust aromas. Trust me when I say to not let the number of ingredients required to make this sway you from trying it, because it’s definitely worth the time and effort!”

Difficulty: ★★★☆☆

Serves 5-6

INGREDIENTS:

For the Chicken & Spice Marinade:

2lbs boneless chicken breasts OR boneless thighs (cube into 2 inch pieces)

Bamboo skewers (soaked in warm water)

4-5 freshly chopped coriander OR culantro (chadon beni)

2-3 tbsp plain Greek yogurt

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp roasted cumin (geera powder)

2 tsp garam masala

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp cayenne powder

1/2 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp chili powder / chili flakes

Pinch of cardamom powder

 

For the Tikka Masala Sauce:

2 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil

A few pieces of cloves

1 onion, finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tbsp ginger, finely grated

1-2 stick(s) of cinnamon

1-2 bay leaf

2 tbsp tomato puree

1 1/2 tbsp coconut milk powder

1 tin of crushed tomatoes

1 cup of heavy cream

1-2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander OR culantro (chadon beni) for garnish

Additional salt & pepper to taste

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

METHOD:

Step One:

In a small bowl or ramekin, combine all of the dried spices and mix until evenly combined. Add 2/3 of the dried spice mix into a larger bowl with the yogurt, lemon juice, and coriander/culantro. Combine these ingredients until your marinade is evenly mixed before adding to your chicken breasts/thighs. Stir well to incorporate the marinade and evenly coat the chicken. Set aside for an hour MINIMUM in the fridge to marinate (overnight is even better if you have the time).

Step Two:

After marinating for an hour, thread the coated chicken cubes on the skewers and grill or broil until the chicken is almost cooked through but has a nice char on the outside for texture. (I estimate about 5 – 6 minutes in the broiler at 200°C (400°F), or 2-3 minutes per side over a grill on high heat. It’s important that you constantly keep an eye on it as each oven varies a bit). Set aside in a bowl after cooking.

Step Three:

In a large deep frying pan or skillet, add the oil over over medium heat and bring it up to temperature. Add the finely chopped onions and sweat it down until it’s soft, translucent, and has a bit of caramelized colour to it. Add the remainder of the dried spice mix as well as the bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, cloves, garlic and ginger and allow it to toast and incorporate with the onions for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. All of the seasonings and spices would have now infused and the contents of the pan would have taken on a deep golden brown colour because of the toasting.

Step Four:

Add the tomato puree to the pan, mix, and let it caramelize with the ingredients until it just starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. When this happens, add the tin of crushed tomatoes as well as the heavy cream and coconut milk powder, stirring everything together. Cover with a lid and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes on medium to low heat until the tomatoes is properly broken down and cooked.  (You should have a sauce that’s not too thick at this point)

Final Step:

Uncover the lid and add your unfinished chicken to the sauce, mix it properly, cover with a lid again, and allow it to cook on low for an additional 5-8 minutes or until the chicken is properly cooked through and your sauce has a desirable consistency. Add additional salt and pepper to suit your taste, and garnish with the coriander or culantro. Serve on a fluffy bed of steamed jasmine or basmati rice with a vegetable salad of your choice.

Enjoy!

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