13 May 2011

chicken tikka masala

12 years ago i went on study abroad to london.  i admit it.  i am an anglophile at heart.  you may think i'm off my trolley, but i even got up at 3:45am to watch the royal wedding in real time.  i had to.  i got up that early for princess diana's funeral 14 years ago, so i just had to get up to watch something as exciting as william and kate tie the knot.  as i sat and watched the "pre-show," i was able to reminisce about my fantastic 4-month adventure on palace court so many years ago.  i couldn't help but think of that wee cafe around the corner--cafe diana.  i have been dreaming of their chicken tikka pita sandwich now for 12 years.

so, i finally made it.  and i have to say, this recipe did NOT disappoint.  life would not be complete without sharing it with you.  you know when you come across a good thing and you just want to share it with others?  that's how i am when it comes to food.  i can't keep quiet.  this is one of those times.  it is from america's test kitchen.  and the recipe is just perfect the way it is.  (although, i did decrease the serrano chile and cayenne to err on the side of not spicy.  i wanted my children to enjoy it.)  don't let the number of ingredients or all the steps dissuade you from making this.  you can make each step in advance and assemble it later. 

my next adventure will be to make a pita sandwich out of, but for now this chicken tikka will make you more than happy.  you may even catch yourself saying, "blimey!  this is jolly good!" cheerio!

Serves 4 to 6

This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the chile. If you prefer, substitute 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for the garam masala. The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken. Serve with basmati rice.

· 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
· 1/2 tsp ground cumin
· 1/2 tsp ground coriander
· 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
· 1 tsp table salt

· 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (see note above)
· 2 tbsp vegetable oil
· 2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
· 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

· 3 tbsp vegetable oil
· 1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
· 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
· 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
· 1 fresh serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note above)
· 1 tbsp tomato paste
· 1 tbsp garam masala (see note above)
· 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
· 2 tsp sugar
· 1/2 tsp table salt
· 2/3 cup heavy cream

· 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

· 1. FOR THE CHICKEN SPICE RUB: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger for the yogurt mixture; set aside.

· 2. FOR THE MASALA SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

· 3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

· 4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

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