Chicken Tikka Masala

When I was an undergrad, I discovered the joys of chicken tikka masala for the first time. The somewhat sweet, tangy buttery sauce, along with some warm naan and basmalti rice, filled me up without draining my wallet. Although I see now that the Indian restaurant that I once thought of as an exotic, hole-in-the-wall treat is actually a spartan, dingy looking dump, the food there continues to be solid, for the most part. Anyway, I last cooked this dish over a year ago and I was craving it recently, so I thought it was due time I made it again.

Ingredients:

Marinade:
2 lbs. chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup yogurt (used TJ’s French Village Creamline plain yogurt)
4 oz fresh ginger, loosely chopped (1 package from TJ’s – not the  best place for ginger)
2 teas. cumin
2 teas. freshly ground black pepper
2 teas. red or cayenne pepper
2 teas. salt
1 teas. cinnamon
1 teas. turmeric
1 teas. paprika
Half a lemon, for lemon juice

Sauce:
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 teas. freshly minced ginger
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced (didn’t use this last time, but it adds a nice kick)
2 teaspoons cumin
3 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons paprika
28-32oz tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
1.5-2 cups of heavy cream (or half and half)

Salt and black pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro to top off the dish

Accompaniments:
Garlic naan (TJ’s sells some nice fresh naan) or basmalti rice

Preparation:
First, I marinated overnight the chicken thighs with the ingredients listed above in a non-reactive bowl. Generally, I love the idea that, simply with some advanced planning – but the same amount of work – marinating foods can produce a tastier, more tender version of a recipe. So, even though some recipes called for marinating the chicken for only a couple of hours, I did it overnight.

Around dinner time the next day, I pre-heated the oven to about 350 degrees, and then broiled the chicken. I then melted the butter in a pan to start the sauce. Next, I sauteed the garlic and onions until they were browned. Then I added the cumin, garam masala and parpika, along with the tomato sauce and cream. I then simmered the dish over low-medium heat until the sauce thickened, about ten minutes. Then, I added the chicken and simmered another ten minutes.

After adding some salt and pepper to taste, I then ate the chicken tikka masala with some naan and rice over the next few days.

Notes:
For whatever reason, when I made this dish this most recent time, the dish lacked a certain je ne sais quois that the dish had the last time I made it. It tasted a little less creamy than last time and a little less tangy. I think I’ll go back to using diced tomatoes with the juices next time, instead of the tomato sauce. Also, I’ll remember to add the minced ginger (which I omitted this time) to the sauce next time as well.

Referenced Sources:
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-tikka-masala/
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/06/chicken-tikka-masala-by-pastor-ryan/ 

Previously Made:
-Wednesday, January 10, 2012
-Prior to that, over a year ago

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