Welcome to our continuing series, Scenes from the Secret Recipe Club. In this month's episode, we serve a heaping helping of Chicken Tikka Masala, brought to you by Melissa of Fried Ice and Donut Holes. Melissa is a teacher by profession, and a cook and baker by passion. When you visit her blog, be sure to check out her About section to find out why "fried ice and donut holes" came to be a warning to behave (it's kinda cute!).
Melissa has a very eclectic taste in food, as well as I ... and her delicious recipes showcase it! This made selecting just one quite difficult. Should I make a batch of Indian Spiced Cream of Tomato Soup with Couscous? But that Roasted Tomato and Basil Risotto looks so divine! Or maybe her version of Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups instead?
But the Chicken Tikka Masala truly beckoned me. I've had Tikka Masala at the local Indian restaurant several times, but never got around to making it myself. Now there are no more excuses!
There wasn't much tinkering that had to be done to make the recipe kosher-friendly ... just subbing olive oil for the butter, and coconut products for the remaining dairy items. Coconut is an ingredient in many Indian dishes so it wasn't a big deal. And since low-fat coconut milk replaced the heavy cream, the total fat content was reduced significantly (my cholesterol count says thank you).
That can of tomato sauce that I thought I had (but didn't) was replaced with a tablespoon of tomato paste and 1/2 cup of water. Not sure why I didn't use an entire cup of water, but it worked out so well that I included them in the ingredients.
I omitted the jalapeño (forgot to buy it). If you like heat, add back up to an entire minced jalapeño. Finally, I significantly reduced the amount of salt in the dish. Kosher chicken is inherently salty due to the kashering process. If a teaspoonful is not enough, taste and add what works for you.
Speaking of taste, Dear Reader, you are probably thinking, how was the taste of the finished product? Let's just say that Chicken Tikka Masala has been added to the dinner rotation at my house. YUM! Thanks, Melissa!
Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from Fried Ice and Donut Holes
1 cup plain soy or coconut Yogurt
1 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tbl. fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp. table salt, or to taste
1 small to medium-sized yellow onion, finely chopped
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp. olive oil
1 Tbl. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. table salt, or to taste
1 Tbl. tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
1/4 lightly packed cup fresh cilantro (stems and leaves), chopped
For the marinade: In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and salt. Stir in the onion. Depending upon the type/brand of "yogurt" you use, the marinade might turn into a thick paste. Stir in the chicken pieces. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, start the sauce: Heat oil in a large heavy grill pan or skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic, cumin, paprika, and salt for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir the tomato paste into the spices for 30 seconds, then add water and coconut milk.
Simmer on low heat until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
About 10 minutes into the simmering, start on the chicken: lightly grease a grill pan with the oil. Remove chicken pieces from marinade; discard remaining marinade. Grill chicken over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, turning as needed to brown all sides (chicken will probably not be cooked through!).
Transfer grilled chicken to the sauce, turning as needed to coat. Simmer on low for an additional 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.