Chicken Tikka Masala

11 Feb


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.

You’ll need:
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.

3 Responses to “Chicken Tikka Masala”

  1. Alexandre November 22, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    Ghee is not clarified butter… clarified butter is melted butter with solids and cream removed. Beurre Noisette is butter that has been cooked till the milk solids toast creating a very rich nutty butter. Ghee is the same as Beurre Noisette except the milk solids are removed.

    There is a very huge difference.

    • Russ Crandall November 22, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

      Hi Alexandre, I appreciate the post and I realize that ghee is a form of clarified butter where the milk solids toast before being strained out, although I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a “very huge difference” between the two since the only difference is when the milk solids are removed.

      There is a distinction in the culinary world and in places where regular clarified butter is readily available, but not for your average American home cook, who are my target audience. Both Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarified_butter) and Merriam Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ghee) classify ghee as a form of clarified butter.

      This post is nearly three years old and one of the first recipes on this blog, when I was first discovering some of these foods (not to mention the fact that I’m not happy about the fact that this recipe isn’t made from scratch, like the rest of my blog). Apparently I didn’t have my shit together back then.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Grilled Chicken Korma « The Domestic Man - April 24, 2011

    [...] my chicken tikka masala recipe, I prefer to blend the sauce beforehand to eliminate the sauce’s chunkiness. After blending, [...]

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