(Authentic!) Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is the go-to for anyone who goes to an Indian restaurant and does not know Indian cuisine or is not very adventurous. But that's okay! Because it is so good and seems to please most palates. I LOVE Indian food and always crave it for some reason when it's raining (strange, i know). Although I love the cuisine, my knowledge of Indian spices is limited, so about a month ago I took an Indian cooking class with this woman named Shilpi, in Cambridge MA. If you live in the Boston area and are looking to do a group activity, couple's date or work outing, this is a great option and so much fun! During our class, Shilpi went into great detail about all the Indian spices we'd be using and all of their great health benefits (like turmeric!) Since taking this class, I've already made this dish 3 times - it's that good.

Chicken Tikka Masala is chunks of chicken that have been marinated in spices and yogurt for at least 6 hours and then traditionally baked in a tandoor. Obviously, most people don't just have tandoors hanging around in their homes so broiling them in the oven does the trick. To get that nice orange, bright color you usually get in your takeout, there's a secret ingredient.... food coloring. Yup, even Shilpi used it when we cooked at her house! I always thought it was from one of the crazy Indian spices but nope! I left it out of these photos and out of the recipe because I still like the color you get from the natural ingredients and adding food coloring to anything kills my soul a tiny bit.

This recipe is so much better than any take-out place in Boston. If you have any recommendations - please send them my way! I am always looking to find good Indian in the area. I've also tried making Chicken Tikka Masala in a crock pot which was a total disaster. I thought it would make the chicken super tender but it just did not work. Trust me, if you're going to try this dish, this is the AUTHENTIC recipe you want to use.

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

For the Marinade:

1 cup yogurt

2 tbs ginger

3 tbs garlic

1-2 jalapenos

3-4 tbs garam masala

1.5 tsp chili powder

3 tbs lemon juice

2 lb chicken (breast or thigh) boneless, skinless and cut into small chunks

For the Sauce:

1 onion, pureed

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1" ginger, grated

5 pods cardamom

1 can (1lb) crushed tomatoes

2 tbs garam masala

2 tsp chili powder

1 cup heavy cream

2 tbs honey

3 tbs butter

salt

chopped parsley/cilantro for garnishing

METHOD

  • Rub lemon juice and sal on the chicken pieces and set aside for half hour

  • Grind ginger, garlic and jalapenos to a smooth paste in a food processor

  • Pour the above mix inot a large bowl and add yogurt, garam masala and chili powder. Mix well.

  • Marinate the chicken pieces in the yogurt mixture coating them well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight

  • Preheat the oven to a broil and thread the chicken onto skewers. Place the skewers on the middle rack in your oven with a tray underneath to catch drippings. Broil for about 5-8 minutes on each side. Remove from oven and take the chicken off the skewers to cool. If you have a roasting rack, this works perfectly

  • While chicken is cooling, begin the sauce. Heat butter in a deep pan on a medium flame. Add the cardamom, garlic, onion and ginger and sautee for about a minute

  • Add the tomatoes, garam masala and chili powder. Cook for 3 minutes then add honey and bring to a boil

  • Add the chicken tikka chunks to the sauce until they are coated well. Simmer for a few minutes on medium-high heat

  • Add cream and bring to a boil again

  • Garnish the dish with chopped parsley or cilantro and serve hot with Jasmine rice!

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