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Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala is a fragrant dish of marinated chicken served in a creamy, spiced tomato curry. The dish is definitively Indian-style cuisine, but there seems to be some controversy as to the authenticity of its origins. Some say it's a relatively modern Indian street food, others claim it originated in Indian restaurants in London. Regardless, it makes for a wonderful meal. Serve with naan or steamed basmati rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 cup yogurt marinade (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, very finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin*
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves*
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Special note:
Feel free to substitute 1-1/2 tablespoons store-bought garam masala for the spices marked with an asterisk (*) in both the yogurt marinade and the tomato curry. Just be sure to still include the cayenne pepper separately.

Preparation:
Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour the yogurt marinade over the chicken and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400°F, line a shallow baking pan with foil and coat with nonstick spray. Remove the chicken from the marinade, draining off and discarding as much of the yogurt mixture as possible and arrange on the prepared sheet in a single layer. Roast just until the chicken is cooked through, turning once, 8 to 10 minutes total.

While the chicken roasts, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the slivered almonds and cook, stirring constantly until lightly toasted. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes more. Sprinkle with the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt, black pepper and cayenne. Cook until the spices are fragrant, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and sugar and simmer gently for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cream and toasted almonds and stir until smooth and heated through, 1 minute more. Mix in the roasted chicken and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately with naan or steamed basmati rice.

Makes 6 servings

Yogurt Marinade
  • Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, very finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin*
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom*
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preparation:
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Makes 3/4 cup.

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