Chicken (or not) Tikka Masala
**Please note: all food posts are from my previous blog The Flexitarian Kitchen. I've kept them here because... well, they're good recipes. And it's late. And I'm tired of adjusting my settings. Think of these recipes as the free prize in the bottom of the cereal box!
In the interest of avoiding the holiday food rut (how many more cranberry recipes do we really need?) I'd like to take you on a little trip to the Far East today. To India, to be exact. Ah, India - land of spices, swamis, and sitars. Where the saris are bright, the curries, magical, and naan bread grows on trees.
Or so I hear. I've never actually been to India, although we have a pretty decent Indian restaurant in our town. Regardless, I'm a huge fan of Chicken Tikka Masala, which is probably the best known Indian dish on this half of the globe. Tikka masala is to Indian cuisine what Pad Thai is to Thai food, or steak and kidney pudding is to the Brits. It's the dish you immediately associate with that culture when it comes up in conversation.
What's that? You say you've never had a conversation about steak and kidney pudding? Well you, my friend, are to be pitied. But I don't have time to address anyone's cultural shortcomings right now, because we have to get down and Tikka!
Flexitarian Chicken Tikka Masala is easy. The most exotic ingredient you'll need is cumin. If you choose to make the meat-free version of this, you'll need to make the following changes:
Wherever the directions say "chicken" you may substitute this lovely melange:
Kebab-sized chunks of veggies, such as red and green peppers, red onions, eggplant, or even, actually, winter squash and potatoes. Listen! Can you hear the angels singing? I can.
Here's what you're gonna grab from the pantry and fridge for this beauteous...
Chicken (or not) Tikka Masala
(which, by the way, feeds 4-6 people)
- 3 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or the veggies listed above, of course!) cut into kebab-sized chunks
- 1 C plain yogurt if you MUST use sour cream I promise not to be judgemental. But yogurt is way better.
- 1 TBSP minced ginger
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper Ditto on the judgement if you can't take the heat. But this really is not a spicy dish. If you're skeptical, cut it down to your size the first time
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 long skewers
In a good-sized mixing bowl combine all of these ingredients (except for the skewers). It should form a thick, goopy, kind of gross-looking mess, but it's going to give that chicken some marvelous flavor, never doubt it.
Marinate this at least an hour.
While it's marinating, catch up on the contents of your DVR. Or cruise around E-bay for a while. All work and no play makes for a very long day.
Now. I understand it's fall, and many of you are cold, and maybe even a little cranky. Don't be. Tikka masala will make it all better, I promise. Go fire up your grill. If the grill is packed away until next summer, fire up the broiler instead. Move the broiler rack about 3 inches from the heat. Be sure to look inside before you turn it on though. Your daughter was possibly cleaning the racks and accidentally left a yellow rubber glove in there. Hem.
When the cooking gadget of your your choice is all good and medium-high hot, thread the chicken (or veggies) onto the skewers. Throw away the leftover marinade. Reusing anything containing raw chicken juices is a Very Bad Idea.
Grill your skewers until the chicken juices run clear or the veggies are tender. At least 5 minutes on each side, maybe a little more if you're using hard vegetables like squash and potatoes. If you're broiling, watch things carefully, because you might be done before the rest of the class.
Now comes the sauce! Be sure to make your peace with God before you start, because you just might die when you taste this.
Here are the magical sauce components:
- 2 TBSP Butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
- 4 tsp cumin
- 4 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
- 2 C half & half (Seriously?? did I just hear someone mutter "I'll substitute skim milk"? If that was you, you may leave the room and come back when you can play nicely. It's got to be half & half. And count yourself lucky I didn't make it heavy cream.)
Now that' that's ironed out, here we go!
Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.
Add the garlic and jalapeno and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the cumin and paprika and stir for one minute until it smells so good you start to whimper.
Add everything else.
Stir it up good, honey.
Simmer it for 20 minutes, then add the chicken (or veggies)
Simmer 10 minutes more. Taste for salt.
- 1/4 C chopped cilantro
- 1-2 C plain yogurt (optional)
Serve this with rice and naan bread. Or pack the sauce into an IV bag and just mainline it.
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