Chicken Tikka Masala Nirvana

Onions- smell the tasty-ness

When your husband tells you that the dish you’ve just served is one of the top five best of all time, you probably ought to write down the recipe. When I first started making dinner tonight, I wasn’t necessarily going to blog about it. I did take some pictures but that was more because I just received a new (old) lens in the mail and wanted to play with it and the new natural light we get now that Spring has sprung forth.

I first tried making my own chicken tikka masala back in January of 2009.  Since then, I’ve used various jarred sauces along with variations on spice mixes and pastes to make  marinades, trying to move ever closer to “perfection” as described by Chris, the lover of all things tikka. Some of the sauces have been closer than others but each time, either the marinade or the sauce was off (plus there was that one time I used vanilla yogurt instead of plain- not that Chris seemed to notice).  Short of buying a tandoori oven, I didn’t really know what else to try*.  Truthfully, I don’t know what I did tonight that made it work so well but I’d like to think it was using yogurt in the sauce (healthier too!) and the almonds.

Top 5: Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients

1 package chicken breasts, cut in to strips or chunks
1 container Fage yogurt (2% fat), plain, divided
1 tablespoon Neera’s tandoori paste from Cinnabar Foods**
Sauce:
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup slivered blanched sliced almonds
1/2 onion, medium dice
1-2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ginger

Directions

Mix tandoori paste and 2/3 of the yogurt together in a plastic bag. Add chicken pieces, marinate for at least an hour

Over medium heat, toast almonds (in a tiny bit of oil) until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Either grind in food processor or use a mortar and pestle if you are feeling particularly aggressive.

Prepare to be bashed

Preheat grill or broiler.

In a large saute pan, heat one tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger and onions, cooking until they look that picture up there at the top (softened but not browned).

Add half the garam masala and cayenne pepper to onoins. Stir to combine and continue to cook for two or three more minutes.

Meanwhile, you can put your chicken on the grill or broiler about now.

Add tomato sauce, ground almonds and remainder of spices to the pan. Reduce heat to low and allow the flavors to meld.

When chicken is done, cut in to chunks (if you didn’t already) and add to tomato sauce along with the remaining yogurt. Mix to combine, heat through and serve.

Perfect?

Chicken Tikka Masala

We had our with store-bought garlic naan. Garnish with fresh cilantro, of course.  Also would be excellent with rice or quinoa.  I recommend a bit of raita too as this version turned out fairly spicy.


*I have looked in to purchasing a tandoor. Looked as in glanced. Amazon sells them, for a couple thousand dollars so that is clearly out of the question. Right?

**I wish I could remember exactly where we bought this. Maybe Whole Foods or I just saw it in some random store.  You can get it online if you follow the link in the ingredient list, though.

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