One of the most common curries you’ll find in Indian restaurants here in the US is chicken tikka masala, a creamy, tomato-based sauce with slow-roasted chicken chunks. Being that it’s so popular, it’s easy to find pre-made sauces in most grocery stores; after putting several through their paces, I’ve settled on a quick, foolproof chicken tikka masala for an easy weeknight dinner.
One of the more interesting facts about this dish is that its place of origin is under dispute; there’s a good chance that it was invented in either India or England.
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
Seeds of Change tikka masala sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
salt/pepper to taste
also: rice (or cauliflower as rice)
This sauce is essential. There are a lot of jars out there, and this is the best I’ve found. It’s rich, creamy (but further enhanced with the 1/2 cup of cream), and has just a hint of spice. However, it also has its fair share of chunks, something I don’t like in this dish. I recommend you blend the sauce before using it. After blending, add the cream to it and set aside.
When cooking chicken in a curried sauce, there are two general ways to get juicy and tasty chicken chunks: 1) simmer it on a lower heat for 30-40 minutes to keep from coaxing the chicken’s juices out, or 2) flash-fry it in a pan on high heat to cook it through before the juices leave the chicken, simmering at the end. For this dish we’ll go with option two.
When flash-frying chicken, it’s best to not overcrowd the pan with chicken; one layer of chicken is probably best. You can flash-fry the chicken in segments (two breasts at a time works well) and then combine it all for simmering.
Put the coconut oil and ghee into a large pan on med-high heat and let it heat up for about 5-10 minutes. The combination of the two fats will allow you to cook the chicken at a relatively high heat, and the ghee will impart a richness onto the chicken. Turn the heat to high and add the chicken, flash-frying for 8-10 minutes, stirring often.
Once the chunks appear crispy and are starting to brown, reduce the heat to medium and add the sauce. Once it starts to boil, further reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered. Serve immediately with your rice or cauliflower rice.