Friday, August 24, 2007

Hot and Spicy

My favorite Indian food of all times is Chicken Tikka Masala. It's a stable when I go out, and I've taken to stocking up on Trader Joe's Masala Simmer Sauce for when I need my fix at home.

But last night, I decided to embark on a cooking adventure. I decided I would make my Chicken Tikka Masala from scratch. Now, this is definitely not an easy feat. Especially when I'm not in my home kitchen (we're house sitting for the 'rents). I actually had to make a trip to our local store because the supermarket by my parents doesn't have garam masala, a necessary ingredient.

I got this recipe from Food and Wine, and aside from the exotic ingredients - it looked pretty easy. So I set to work. Jon helped by making some brown rice to serve with it since, sans rice cooker, I am the world's worst rice maker.

I kept getting more and more excited as I cooked - the fragrant aroma drifting through the kitchen. I was a little concerned about the color because it was so red, but as soon as I added the cream it became the gorgeous orange color we all know and love.

Just as the smell and look matched my expectations, so did the taste. It was exquisitely spicy. Amazingly tasty. Definitely as good as the restaurants and far surpassing the bottled stuff (which I am afraid I can never go back to again). I'm so glad I took the risk, because it was worth all the effort. I can't wait to eat the leftovers!

Chicken Tikka Masala (from Food and Wine)


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 1/2 teaspoons pure chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
One 35-ounce can peeled tomatoes, finely chopped, juices reserved
Pinch of sugar
1 cup heavy cream


1. MAKE THE MASALA MARINADE: In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper.

2. PREPARE THE CHICKEN: Using a sharp knife, make a few shallow slashes in each piece of chicken. Add the chicken to the marinade, turn to coat and refrigerate overnight.

3. 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. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and 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.

4. 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 completely. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.

5. 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 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and serve.


  1. I love love love chicken tikka masala. I love love love pretty much all Indian food!

    Mmmmmmmm. I'm very impressed.

  2. man, the monkey beat me to the exact things i was thinking while reading.

    it's barely past 9 AM, and now i'm craving all kinds of speecy spicy indian food with a nice, big stack of naan. thanks.

  3. might have to make this next week for FIL.....hmmmm that will be a big test for me :)

  4. That looks amazing. I love chicken tikka masala too. I recently grilled my own tandoori chicken a few months ago, and to my surprise, it came out ok. I'm going to be checking your recipes frequently.