CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA

chicken-tikka-masala-recipe

I just got back from a whirlwind weekend in New Orleans. I love it there – it’s such a fun, friendly city. Between the fantastic food and music and the festive atmosphere, a trip to New Orleans always feels like a celebration. But this visit was extra special because I was there for my son’s graduation from Tulane University. Hooray for Alex!!! After a weekend in The Big Easy I felt inspired to cook something super tasty and special.  Chicken Tikka Masala – with its spicy, creamy, colorful, tender, tangy, exciting deliciousness – definitely fits the bill!

grilled marinated chicken

The magic of this dish comes from first marinating the chicken in yogurt to tenderize it.  Then it’s partially cooked on a very hot grill, for that “tandoor” flavor.  Of course you should use your tandoor oven, if you have one!

cubed-chicken-for-chicken-tikka-masala

The chicken is then cut into bite-sized pieces and finished in a richly spiced, creamy tomato sauce.

recipe-chicken-tikka-masala

The Tulane graduation ceremony was festive and wonderfully unconventional. The students marched out to the sounds of New Orleans jazz with “Just a Closer Walk With Three” played live by Dr. Michael White’s Original Liberty Brass Band.  The Keynote speaker was New Orleans-born, Jazz great – Wynton Marsalis. Holding his trumpet in his hand at the podium, he delivered a brilliant and powerful speech, punctuated with several trumpet solos.

What made the commencement all the more poignant was that it was a wave goodbye to Tulane’s beloved long-time president Cowen, who’s stepping down in July. Cowen is credited with rebuilding Tulane after Katrina and has since made community service a graduation requirement for all Tulane students.

A big part of the message at the commencement was to go out into the world and make a difference.  Here’s something Cowen said to the graduates that stuck with me:

“No one will ever remember you for what you did for yourself.  They will only remember you for what you did for others.”

chicken-tikka-masala-recipe-panning-the-globe
CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Tender grilled chicken in a spicy creamy tomato sauce
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs or a combination (if using breasts, poke them a few times with a fork before marinating)
  • Marinade Ingredients
  • 2 cups plain whole milk yogurt (not the Greek kind)
  • 8-10 large garlic cloves, flattened and peeled (see here for how to flatten & peel garlic)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Sauce Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 5 large garlic cloves, crushed in a garlic press
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced or grated ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups tomato puree from a 28 ounce can (I recommend Organic or San Marzano for best flavor)
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup half and half (you can use heavy cream if you want to splurge)
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch chopped cilantro (about 1 cup)
Instructions
  1. Marinate and Grill the Chicken Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
  2. Preheat your grill to high. Shake off excess marinade from the chicken and grill it for 5 minutes per side. Don't worry if it isn't fully cooked. It will continue to cook in the sauce. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes and then cut it into bite-sized cubes. Set it aside while you make the sauce.
  3. Make the Sauce Measure out all the spices for the sauce into a small bowl: coriander, cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Heat butter and oil in a heavy kettle or dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add onions, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or so, until onions are tender and starting to brown. Add spices and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil. Lower to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes, uncovered. Add half & half, lemon juice, chicken cubes and half the cilantro. Simmer gently for 6-8 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in the rest of the cilantro. Serve with steamed basmati rice or naan.

3 Responses to “CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA”

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  1. Betsy says:

    Hi Lisa – what can we substitute for the dairy? Would you recommend coconut milk in this recipe? Or is there something else?

  2. I’d suggest using soy yogurt – it’s creamier than coconut milk and the tanginess would be nice. Let me know!

  3. Hooray indeed for your son!!!!! That is a major accomplishment that highlights some strong personality traits. Most Excellent. Yes, it does sound like a rather unconventional graduation. Hooray for that too. Graduations frankly can be pretty dull, not matter how jazzed one might be for their own child. As to the recipe, I swooned. Lol and I also pinned it. Luscious!

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