Chicken Tikka Masala

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Chicken Tikka Masala, it’s a chicken in a rich, and creamy tomato sauce. Please try it, even if you generally are not big fan of Indian cuisine. The sauce is so tasty and wonderful to eat with rice or naan (Indian flat bread). Delicious naan elevates the whole experience to another level. You will never forget its flavor. Chicken Tikka masala is the first dish to order in any Indian Restaurant, as it seems to be hard to make. But thanks to breaking down the recipe into easy-to-follow instructions, you can easily cook it at home. The result will be dish that you are sure to love.

Ingredients

Serves 4

For the marinade:

  • 1½ lb boneless chicken chunks, skin removed
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 3 tbsp garlic-ginger paste
  • ¾ - 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 3 tbsp oil

For the sauce:

  • ¼ cup tomato puree
  • 3 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • ½ cup cream
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder (roasted recommended)
  • 1 tsp red chili kashmiri
  • 1 tsp paprica
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
  • fresh coriander leaves

How to make Chicken Tikka Masala:

Start by marinating the chicken:

  1. Wash and cut the chicken in a medium size cubes. Make few cuts across each chicken chunk with a knife. This helps the ingredients seep into the meat. Rub in the salt, chili powder and lemon juice. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the yoghurt in a glass bowl till smooth. Add the ginger-garlic paste, cumin, coriander powder, paprika and garam masala. Mix well.
  3. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and mix it together. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. You can even leave the marinade in the fridge overnight.

How to make the sauce:

  1. Heat oil in the pan (preferably non - stick) on the medium heat. Add chopped onions and fry it till turn it golden brown (about 7 minutes). Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Add a few drops of water if the mixture is sticking. Do not skip the caramelization process
  2. Add the ground coriander, turmeric, chili powder and paprika. Stir for 10 seconds.
  3. Now put in the chopped tomatoes. Fry them for three or four minutes, or until they turn pulpy. Stir in garam masala. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15–20 minutes. The sauce should turn thick.
  4. Take out the pan from the stove.
  5. Add tomato puree to cool it down.
  6. Transfer the sauce to the blender and process until very smooth. (Great Tip from cooks from the best restaurants, you can skip it though)
  7. Pour back the mixture to the skillet and add salt, pinch of sugar and fenugreek leaves.
  8. Taste and correct seasonings, adding likely more salt.

Grill the marinated chicken:

You can choose if you want grill in an oven, barbecue, use air fryer or cook in a pan on stove.

On the grill or grill oven

  • Preheat the grill (or oven grill) to its highest setting.
  • Thread the chicken on to two to four skewers (the flat, sword-like ones are best). Throw away leftover marinade. Brush with the oil and balance the skewers on the rim of a shallow baking tray, so that the meat is suspended and does not touch the tray.
  • Place about 5 inches (or 10 cm) from the source of heat and grill for 6 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned, cooked through and charred in places. (Cut a large piece of chicken to the centre to check there is no trace of pink).
Bake the chicken in the oven
  • You can use the skewers like in option A or spread the chicken evenly in a baking dish.
  • Bake the chunks of chicken at 350 F for 30 minutes. (Turn it halfway).
Cook in the skillet (frying pan)
  • Heat oil in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat.
  • Put chicken pieces to the pan, the best in batches of two or three, making sure not to crowd the pan.
  • Fry until browned for only 3 minutes on each side.
Air Fryer
  • Put the pieces of chicken evenly in the air-fryer and cook for 20 minutes (turn it over after 10 minutes). Check your air-fryer setting!

Finally, combine the sauce and chicken together:

  • Add the broiled/grilled chicken pieces to the sauce in the pan. Add 2 tbsp of butter and ½ cup of cream.
  • Simmer for about 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat. You can add some water if the consistency is too thick.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) and thin stripes of ginger. Serve hot with rice or naan.

Tips:

  1. And if you’re dairy free, use 1 cup half and half or a cream to marinate the chicken.
  2. For the best charred results, use a well seasoned cast iron skillet if you have one. You can also use a regular nonstick pan over high heat
  3. Try to use Kashmiri Chili. I ti mild chili but intensifies the color and adds a wonderful flavor.

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