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Chicken Tikka Masala

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay.  [Recipe makes 6 servings].

As mentioned previously, Chicken Tikka Masala is one of my favorite Indian-influenced dishes.  Since last sampling this dish at a restaurant, I've been keeping my eye out for a good similar recipe to try, but haven't had the best of luck.  After recently coming across Gordon Ramsay's recipe, I knew I could trust the flavor profile and use it as a starting point despite the visual differences to what I'm used to.  With a few modifications, I ended up with a fairly similar dish to what I am used to eating at restaurants.

The main thing I changed was using cream rather than yogurt.  Although yogurt is very common in Indian cooking, I went with cream to get the less viscous consistency that I prefer rather than the thicker outcome that Ramsay prefers.  In addition, I went ahead and bumped up the amount of spices used.  For my first attempt, I went with the amounts given in the recipe, but after watching Ramsay's video (and noting that the dish could use a little more intensity), it is obvious that he is more than generous when it comes to using rounded teaspoons and tablespoons over the more commonly used leveled amounts.  The end product has the perfect amount of heat, a great flavor profile from the garam masala and curry leaves, and a rich and creamy texture.

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 white onions, julienned
1 green chili, seeded and finely chopped
2 inches ginger, peeled and minced
6 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons red chili powder (different than chili powder)
1 tablespoon tumeric
5 teaspoons garam masala
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
28 ounces diced tomatoes, juices included
1 cup heavy cream
20 curry leaves

6 standard-sized (or 4 extra large) chicken breasts, brined in advance and cut to 1-inch cubes (tikka)

Cilantro for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a heavy-bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven or cast iron pot, over medium heat.  Once heated, add the oil followed by the onions.  Stir occasionally until softened, roughly 15 minutes.  [Side note:  From the point the onions are added until the diced tomatoes are added, feel free to add water to deglaze the bottom of the pot and prevent any burning from occurring].  Once the onions have softened and picked up some color, add the chilies, ginger, and garlic.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes and then add the chili powder, tumeric, and garam masala.  Cook for several more minutes or until the spices are really fragrant.  Add the brown sugar and tomato paste and cook for two more minutes.  Lastly, add the diced tomatoes and simmer for ten minutes, or until the tomatoes start to break down.  Stir in the heavy cream and then either run the sauce through a food processor in batches, or use an immersion blender.  Although not necessary, I prefer to run the purée through a fine-meshed sieve before returning to the pot to ensure a perfectly smooth sauce.  Season to taste.  Lastly create a sachet for the curry leaves and add to the sauce.  Simmer on low while you cook the chicken.

Season and cook the chicken using your favorite method (sauteing, grilling, baking, etc.) and add to the sauce once fully cooked.  Remove and dispose of the curry leaves.

Serve over basmati rice and garnish with fresh cilantro and some naan.

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4 comments

  1. Yum my favorite Indian dish, i've never actually made it from scratch yet, so looking forwards to trying this....

    Simon

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    1. Simon - one of my favorites too! I was surprised the first time how easy it was to throw together. Best of luck!

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  2. TJ, I made this tonight! It was a bit of work but it turned out to look and taste much like I expected it to. The sauce was delicious. I could really taste the ginger and the other spices blended well. Next time I make it, I probably will try something to give it a little more heat and use a little less brown sugar because it turned out a little sweet. (I should mention that I used organic brown sugar. Maybe a little sweeter?) Thanks for posting the recipe! Andy K.a

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    1. Andy, glad to hear you enjoyed it! You're right, it does take some time (mostly getting the onions softened and caramelized), but it's totally worth it in the end. As far as the heat issue, it may have to do with the fact that the label 'green chili' gets thrown on so many different varieties. I get mine at a local Indian market, and the heat is noticeably higher than most varieties at supermarkets - even after I remove the seeds and 'white flesh'. I can only imagine how hot the dish would be if the chilies were left whole.

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