Friday, June 24, 2016

Chicken Tikka Masala with Green Chutney

Day 124

It has been too long since my last post. Day 124 is more like Day 1224, and that’s okay. Life got in 
the way, but I’ve still been trying new recipes and tasting lots of good food. For this and most future blog posts, I’m sticking to recipes that I can call my own. That is to say, I’ll decide what I want to make, I’ll research recipes for the dish, then I’ll do my own thing. Like this, each recipe will be my own, but will perhaps be inspired by dishes from various previously published cooks. Today’s recipe is the first—of many, hopefully—in that vein. Here we go!

 Although we struggle to agree on favorite meals in our house, collectively speaking, one ethnicity that we all crave is Indian. The rich and aromatic spice blends offer a hint of piquant, a hint of sweet, and lots of robustness. When we eat Indian out, my husband and daughter usually order chicken tikka masala while I tend to venture more into the vegetarian menu choices. Since we do all agree on the yumminess of chicken tikka masala, that’s what I chose to recreate at home.

Here is the result of no fewer than five tries to get the level of spice just how we like it (and we like it a bit spicy, but not too much, fyi). The cilantro-mint (green) chutney is a must for us, so I’ve included that here as well.

NOTE: Marinating the chicken in the yogurt mixture overnight (up to 24 hours!) is a really good idea to maximize flavor.

Enjoy! Namaste. :)

Chicken Tikka Masala
10 cloves minced garlic
8 tsp. grated fresh ginger
5 tsp. turmeric powder
4 tsp. garam masala
4 tsp. ground coriander
3 tsp. cumin
1 tbs. curry powder
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1½ tbs. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, finely diced
1 large onion, diced
3 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. butter
2 cups plain whole milk yogurt (get the cheap stuff)
1/3 cup tomato paste
28oz. can crushed tomato

2 cups heavy cream
2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts, sliced thin or pounded (or a mixture of boneless breasts and thighs)
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves

Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, cumin, curry powder, about ½ of salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside. In a Ziploc bag, place raw chicken.

Combine ½ of spice mixture (above) with yogurt and pour into Ziploc. Turn chicken to coat thoroughly. Seal tightly and place in fridge overnight (or up to 24 hours—the time is completely up to you since the chicken tastes better the longer it marinates).

Cover and chill the rest of spice mixture until ready to make the dish.

When ready, heat butter and olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeno, and tomato paste. Cook until onions are soft and the tomato paste is darker. Add rest of spice mixture and cook about 3-5 minutes more. Stir regularly, as bottom of pan will begin to stick just a bit. Add can of tomatoes. Bring to boil, then lower heat and allow to simmer and thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in oven with broiler on high, place chicken on a broiling rack or shallow pan and under broiler. Watch carefully and cook until chicken starts to blacken a bit—about 10 minutes. The chicken probably won’t be cooked through just yet, but remove from oven and chop into bite-sized chunks.

Add to tomato mixture and simmer until chicken is cooked through. Add cream and chopped cilantro, then continue simmering for an additional 10-20 minutes.

Serve over steamed rice.

Green Chutney

2 bunches cilantro, very bottom stem-part removed
4 large mint leaves
¼ chopped jalapeno pepper
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil (I recommend Olea olive oil)
juice of ½ lemon
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until smooth. Serve, as is, with chicken tikka masala.

An aside: If desired, take half of the chutney and combine with 1 cup of (whole-milk-Greek) yogurt, stirring to combine. Use the other half of the chutney without yogurt. This allows for two dipping sauces rather than just chutney.