Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Chicken Tikka Masala

A week and a half ago, I saw this recipe on Tigers & Strawberries. I had to make it as soon as an opportunity arrived. Tonight!

From what is written in the post...

*Chicken Tikka Masala was named the national dish of the UK a few years ago!
*This is a cheaters version, the real deal should have tandoori chicken.
*head over to the post and read the whole discussion in the comments on the dishes supposed history, as well as the role of spices in UK cooking and the migration of spices from India and Africa and how that influenced everything.

This is recipe is spicy! Adjust as you see fit. I followed the recipe completely. I have a few things I would change if I were to make it again. I'll put those at the end.

SPICY CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA from Tigers & Strawberries

2 small, or one medium onion peeled and roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
1 or 2 thin red chili peppers to taste
12 cardamom pods, seeds removed and reserved-discard the pods
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 TB coriander seeds
1 TB paprika
1 TB fenugreek leaves, ground
1 TB butter or butter ghee
1 1/2 cups water
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup yogurt, plain
2 TB butter or butter ghee
1 cup or less heavy cream
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
handful fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish

In a food processor or blender grind the onions as fine as possible. A paste is preferable, but as fine as you can.

Grind together garlic, ginger and chili peppers, finely to a paste, like the onions (I had to add a B or two of water to help the processor). Keep seperate from onions.

Grind all dried spices together...finely, if necessary, put through a fine mesh sieve to sift out larger pieces that didn't grind.

Heat first TB of ghee in a deep frying pan, (nonstick is best) and add onions. Stir and fry until the onions begin to brown (5-7 minutes). Stir constantly. If they start to burn, add a tiny bit of water.

When onions are brown, add the garlic, ginger and chili paste, and stir, frying for about three more minutes.

Add dried spices and cook until mixture is very fragrant--a couple of minutes.

Add water, and stir together into a sauce.

Add tomatoes, and stir together. Turn heat to low and cook until sauce has reduced by one half.

Stir yogurt until smooth, and add to simmering sauce, one TB at a time. Whisk until sauce is smooth.

Add ghee, allow to melt, whisk until smooth.

Add cream, and salt to taste (add cream a little at a time, and to your liking).

Add chicken and simmer on low until the chicken is done and just tender, probably around 8 minutes.

Stir in cilantro and serve (w/ saffron rice!)

*As noted, I had to add a little water to get the peppers, garlic and ginger into a paste. A little until it pulls together.
*The peppers...Giant didn't have red chilis, so I bought one jalapeno and one habanero. Too Hot! Maybe just the jalapeno.
*I might add just the yogurt and not the cream. Just a thought.
*Create a yogurt sauce to serve on the side (plain yogurt, shredded cucumber, salt/pepper, cilantro). This will help cool you down.
*I'm thinking of adding some pureed tomato and / or tomato paste. Adding a touch of sweet and further richness to the sauce.
*If you can perhaps char grill your chicken, it might be tastier?
*Try to let your sauce simmer down a ways before adding the chicken. Our sauce was a little 'watery' after the chicken cooked. I don't know why, it seemed nice and thick before hand? Interesting.

Ghee: Ghee is clarified butter...the water and diary solids are removed...the butter is put in a small pot (I did two sticks of butter, unsalted and if you have organic butter, that is preferred) and put over medium heat, allowing the butter to simmer, bubble, foam and burn out the solids. The ghee becomes this rich golden color. Skim off the top layer of foam, becareful not to stir up the dark bits that fall to the bottom of the pan. Gently pour the ghee through three or four layers of cheese cloth in a sieve, again try to leave the dark bits on the bottom. I rinsed out the pan, cleaned out the bottom and returned the new ghee to the pan and repeated the process one more time. When done, ghee can last unrefrigerated for a long time...some sources say one month, some say several months. I guess, just watch for it to go bad. Here's some wikipedia entry on Ghee.


Dancer in DC said...

This was so very hot. The recipe needs some work - definitely a work in progress. But it's on the right track, and I can't wait to keep trying it out.

Josh Smith said...

Very nice Tikka Masala recipe, I've made others similar to it in the past. May I use your pic on my Blog? I'll be sure to link you and give you credit. No worries if not. Keep up the good work :).

ScottE. said...

Josh: Certainly, feel free! Thanks for asking.

Chilefire said...

You probably know this, but just in case... You can significantly lower the heat of your chiles, while retaining the chile flavor, by removing the seeds, and the white membranous materials inside the chile. This is where most of the heat of the chile resides. I love the flavor of Habs but the heat is just too much to really cook with them and get to thier flavor without removing these membranes first.

Another thing to do when you realize that you have overcapped a dish is to serve it with a side of yogurt. Milk contains a protein that is very similar in "shape" to the capsaicin alkaloid. This protein will bond to the same receptors that the capsaicin does, therby bringing down the heat. Milk and milk products are the only thing actually known to help.
I suggest yogurt for those folks who are lactose intolerant, and because you can add clinatro, lemon pepper, salt and so forth to make it a yummy accompaniment you your main dish.