When I posted the Mango Lassi recipe, it really put me in the mood for more Indian flavors. I like Indian food a lot and the flavors are complex. I often find myself asking, “What am I tasting?”. A local Indian restaurant is helping to answer that question by emailing recipes to their customers. One of their recent emails included the following recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala.
I have had chicken tikka masala a number of times at Indian restaurants and I have even had a wonderful tikka masala that my daughter, Tricia, made for me on Mother’s day. However, I really wanted to try this recipe to see how it compared to the recipe that Tricia had used. The end products tasted very similar, except that I have had to significantly lower the amount of salt used in the restaurant recipe. I like a light hand on the salt.
For me, I like salt to enhance the flavor of something, not announce, “HERE I AM! CAN YOU TASTE ME?” Some of my other family members disagree and think that I don’t salt foods enough. I think that they have killed their palates by over salting. I learned to use less salt while I was pregnant with one of my babies because I was holding tons of water and it was driving my blood pressure up. At first everything tasted bland, but then it was amazing how much more of the food I could taste once I backed off on the salt.
Getting just the right amount of salt into food can sometimes be tricky and it is definitely a personal taste preference. On most foods, I figure that people can add salt at the table, and certainly my family has no problem adding their own salt. My only request is that they taste their food before they reach for the salt shaker. Sometimes I get the salt just right and off they go murdering the dish with the salt shaker before they have even tasted what they are salting.
Now that I have gone off on a salt tangent, I’ll get back to the recipe at hand. This recipe takes a little bit of time in the beginning, but I had fun making it because it used several techniques that I don’t often use in one recipe. I felt as though I was immersing myself in Indian culture. Maybe I ought to have worn my saree and put a red dot on my forehead while I cooked! John had brought a saree back for me some years ago when he had made a trip to India on business. I don’t ever wear it because it is made out of silk…and where exactly am I going to wear a saree in America anyway? Still, I like having it!)
Classic Indian flavors come together for a very flavorful tikka. Marinated in a yogurt sauce, bite-sized pieces of chicken are threaded onto skewers, then grilled on an outdoor grill or broiled in a standard kitchen oven. The chicken is then added to a creamy, tomato-based sauce spiced with ginger, cumin, paprika and cilantro.
- 1 cup yogurt
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoons cayenne pepper (The original recipe called for 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper.)
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste (The original recipe called for 4 teaspoons salt.)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the Chicken
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
- 4 long skewers
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (don’t add it, if you want a milder flavor)
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste (The original recipe called for 3 teaspoons salt.)
- 4 ounces minced onion
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat a grill to high heat. Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread marinated chicken onto skewers. Discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side. Alternatively, chicken can be broiled in an oven, using the same timing as for an outdoor grill. (I broiled mine in the oven. It worked great!)
- Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic, ginger, onion and jalapeno for 2 minutes.
- Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and teaspoons salt.
- Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
- Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Recipe adapted from the India Fusion Restaurant
Servings – 4
- Ginger root, unpeeled. Ginger comes with several root branches. Just break off what you need, and put the rest back in the refrigerator. I have found that ginger root keeps well for several weeks.
- Peeling the ginger root. I peel it with a vegetable peeler, taking off the thin skin. Ginger is very fibrous so don’t keep peeling and peeling thinking that you will get past the fibers. Just take off the thin skin.
- Slice crosswise.
- Stack a few of the sliced pieces.
- Cut down through the sliced pieces, making narrow strips.
- Cut across the strips making tiny little minced pieces.
- The finished product.
- 2 cups Basmati rice
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 4 cups water
Mix all together in a sauce pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat to low, put lid on pot, and cook rice for about 20 minutes until done.
You can also make this in a rice cooker or even your microwave. For microwave cooking, put the ingredients in a microwave safe dish. Cover. Cook on high for about 20 minutes.
A nice accompinament to this meal is a leavened Indian flat bread called Naan. The recipe for Naan is below the recipe for the Basmati Turmeric Rice.