Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Peggi's Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is a beautiful, creamy, spicy, comforting dish, don't you think? It's honestly not that complicated to make! This is my own recipe, tweaked and perfected over the years. It's actually more of a combo of butter chicken and chicken tikka masala, so don't be surprised if it tastes different than what you've tried before. I hope you enjoy it!

First, you need to marinate your chicken. It needs at least 2 hours to absorb the flavors, but I shoot for 5-6. Overnight is great too!


2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise into 3 long strips
1 cup Plain Greek yogurt
2 heaping tbsp Garam Masala
1 tbsp Turmeric
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 inch of fresh ginger root, grated

(Here's the thing - I don't really measure, so I'm giving you estimates. I also use Gourmet Garden garlic and ginger as it's no muss-no fuss)

In a large plastic or glass dish, stir together yogurt, garam masala, turmeric, garlic, and ginger. The mixture should be well-flecked with the spices, so add more if you think you need to. add the chicken, pressing it well into the mixture so each piece is covered. Let set in fridge for desired time. 

Once you've marinated the chicken, there are a couple of ways to cook it. Ideally, grilling is best. I just take the chicken out, wipe the excess marinade off with my fingers (yes, it's messy, but it's thick so hands work best), and lay the meat on the grill. You can also heat 1/4 cup of butter in a large pan and brown the chicken (my usual method since we don't have a grill). I warm the butter over medium heat and allow it to clarify, thus making ghee (usually called for in Indian cooking). Use the same wiping method and brown each side. A little char is ideal! The turmeric will turn the meat yellow, so don't let that turn you off. Once cooked through, put the meat on a plate to cool. 

Time for the lovely sauce!


1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
Large sweet onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 inch of fresh ginger root, grated
1-2 jalapeño peppers, minced*
2-3 heaping tbsp Garam Masala
1 can crushed tomatoes
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a deep pan (I use a dutch oven), melt butter over medium heat and allow to clarify. Add onion and jalapeño, stirring constantly. After a couple of minutes, add garlic and ginger, continue to stir until onion is translucent. We're not browning the onion, we're just sweating it! Add Garam Masala, stir for a minute or two until fragrant (this step is golden - it really brings up the flavor in the spice!). Pour in tomatoes, stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium low and cover so the tomatoes don't splatter everywhere. Chop up cooled chicken, add to pot. Stir to combine and simmer 5 minutes. Now is a good time to taste and add more spice, salt and pepper. Don't overdo the Garam Masala! It can be overwhelming. Finally, add the heavy cream. The color should be a lovely, creamy orange, so adjust the cream accordingly. Also, taste, taste, taste! You'll likely need to adjust the spices to your liking. 

That's it! I serve mine over steamed jasmine rice, but traditionally it's served over steamed basmati rice with peas. It's good with quinoa, brown rice, or even over fresh spinach! It tastes best the second day, in my opinion. 

*a note about heat - I'm kind of a wimp, so I use 1 jalapeño with 1/2 the seeds and membrane removed. Adjust for your own taste, but keep in mind that the heavy cream will temper the spice quite a bit. I also use red pepper flakes in a pinch!

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