Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Indian Comfort Food: Chicken Tikka Masala

This week has been a little rough for me.  I've been suffering through a nasty cold.  Let me tell ya...a tiny cold can completely wipe a person out at 16 weeks pregnant.  Who knew?  Praise the Lord, I have a very kind and thoughtful husband who has done a great job of taking care of me.

Monday night he left work early, did the grocery shopping, and brought home dinner.  I am so spoiled!  I knew he was going to have to work later yesterday to make up for his time on Monday, so I mustered up all the energy I had to make a warm, comforting meal for him to come home to.  Chicken Tikka Masala was on the menu for the week and sounded just perfect for a rainy Tuesday night.

Amusing anecdote of the day:  This recipe requires broiling chicken in the oven for about 10-12 minutes.  When you make this, please, please, PLEASE make sure your top rack is not too close to the broiler.  Otherwise, you will open the oven door and:
1.  fill your entire house with smoke
2.  set off the loudest most annoying smoke alarm in the world
3.  run around the house waving a dish towel in your hand while ripping smoke alarms off the wall
4.  almost burn the onions sauteeing on the stove
5.  find out later the pan you broiled the chicken on is warped
6. and fall asleep at the counter once everything is done and you are waiting for your husband to get home.
Not that any of that happened to me ;)
Let's get back to the Chicken Tikka Masala, shall we?  It is an incredibly flavorful Indian dish.  Indian food is yuuuuuummmy!  And for those of you who are skeptical of trying it, the preparation isn't much different from any other dish.  They just use a lot of spices which creates lots of flavor.  Flavor is good.  It doesn't take too much time to prepare either.  I had it ready to go in just over 45 minutes (and that includes the smoke alarm fiasco).
Make it on the next cold, rainy night we have this winter.  You'll be glad you did!

Chicken Tikka Masala
adapted from The Pioneer Woman
serves 6

 3 whole Chicken Breasts
Ground Coriander
1/2 cup Plain Yogurt
 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Large Onion, diced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tsp. - 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
Garam Masala spice  (ESSENTIAL!  If you can't find it anywhere, I have included a spice mixture at the bottom which will give you the same flavor)
1 can (28 Ounce) Diced Tomatoes
1-1/2 cup Heavy Cream (Or milk, if you are like me and forgot to put cream on the grocery list)
2 cups cooked rice

Optional:  I also included half a jalapeno pepper and a lot of chili powder to make ours a little spicier.  The dish is delicious either way, though.

Season the chicken breasts with salt, coriander, and cumin and coat with yogurt.  Set the chicken on a metal cooling rack over a foil-lined baking sheet and place it about 10-12 inches below a broiler for 5-7 minutes per side. Chicken should be slightly blackenened.  Depending on how thick your chicken is, it may not cook through all the way.  That's ok!  It will finish cooking in the sauce.

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat.  Toss in diced onion and sauté until slightly browned.  Add the garlic and ginger and 1 Tbsp. salt to the onions.  Next you are going to add about 3 tablespoons Garam Masala spice.
Now you are going to add your can of diced tomatoes. Continue cooking and stirring, scraping the bottom of the pan to pick up all the flavor from the spices. Add about 1 tablespoon sugar and let mixture simmer while you start the rice.
After the Tikka Masala sauce has had a chance to simmer for a little bit, add in the 1 ½ cups of heavy cream.
Note:  If using milk, the sauce will not be as thick, but will be just as tasty.  I've made it both ways and decided I won't be bothered buying heavy cream next time unless I need it for something else. 
Now, chop up your chicken breasts into chunks and stir them into the Tikka Masala sauce.  Let simmer until the rice has finished cooking.  Right before serving, I stirred in 2 cups of peas for color and added veggies.
Garam Masala Spice Mixture
1 tablespoon coriander; ground
1 tablespoon cumin; ground
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper; ground
1 tablespoon fennel seeds; ground
1 tablespoon ginger; ground
1 tablespoon cardamom; ground
1 tablespoon nutmeg; ground
1 TEASPOON cloves; ground

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