Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chicken Tikka Masala & Naan

I am a food-lover, not a food connoisseur. I have NOT been to a number of Indian restaurants and tried this dish numerous times and so had to make it at home... in fact, I've only been to an Indian restaurant once in my life that I remember, and that was a good 17 years ago! I remember liking it though. I was probably five or six but I remember saffron rice, flat bread and chicken pieces plastered with curry. A while back I started noticing the name of this chicken dish all over the place. Well, I said, we'll have to see what this is all about. And we have to find a flat bread to go with it.

The recipe I started with calls for a number of spices, but when I found the recipe I decided to use, other cooks argued that using pre-mixed Garam Masala (which can be found in the spice aisle at your local grocery store) was good enough. The ingredients on the bottle included a number of spices not included in the recipe itself, so I mixed it up, using the spices called for as well as a hefty dash of Garam Masala. The next time I make it I'll try the mix exclusively and see how it compares.

With that said, doesn't this picture look AWESOME? I didn't take it but I love, LOVE mixing fresh spices and the thought of making my own Garam Masala is making me positively giddy!

Okay, on with the recipes!

NOTE: Both of these recipes require planning ahead. Don't think you can whip them up last minute for supper, you'll be eating at 9 if you try. They are totally worth the preparation though!

Chicken Tikka Masala

3 boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces

1 C plain yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp cayenne pepper (I used our home-grown cayenne peppers for this, so did not use nearly that much. I didn't want our heads to explode. However, store-bought ground cayenne is much more bland, so that amount should be fine.)
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs minced FRESH ginger. Fresh, fresh, fresh. Which means not dry powder.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Garam Masala, optional. Or try replacing the first four spices with just the mix itself.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a lid. Coat the chicken thoroughly, cover and chill for at least one hour. The longer it marinates the more tender the chicken will be.

A half hour or so before you want supper ready, preheat your oven to 475F. Place chicken pieces on a broiling pan or grill pan and bake about 15 minutes til done.

While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce.

1 tbs butter
1 clove minced garlic
1 jalapeño pepper, finely minced
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 8 oz can tomato sauce (I cooked down home canned tomato puree)
1 C heavy cream

Sautee garlic and jalapeño in butter in a heavy skillet. Add the spices and salt and 'toast' for a few minutes to bring out the flavors. Add tomato sauce and cream and simmer on low heat until thickened. Add cooked chicken and simmer 10 minutes longer. Serve over rice.


From what I gather, Naan is a loose term for a variety of Indian flat-breads. I've seen Naan prepared in a number of different ways; on a grill, in the oven, in a fry-pan; I made mine on our pancake griddle, and it was delicious, though I don't know how authentic it tasted. The flat-bread I had as a child was cooked in a tandoor oven (We got to go into the kitchen and watch it being made! Yay for homeschool-group field-trips!) and was much larger and full of large air pockets. This one has smaller air pockets than some, but it looks lighter than others... As I said, it's a pretty loose term. Whatever the authentic thing is, THIS was delicious. I wouldn't say it's the end of my hunt for Naan recipes, but my brother, who is one of the people whose opinion I care a jot about when it comes to my cooking, said it was awesome and give me more now please.

1 packet (1 tbs) dry yeast
1 C warm water
1/4 C sugar
3 tbs milk
1 egg
1 tsp salt
4 - 4 1/2 C bread flour
1/4 C butter, melted (or if it's available, 1/4 C ghee, another specialty I want to try sometime.)

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and a little of the sugar in the water, and let it proof ten minutes, until it's very puffy. Beat in the milk, egg and salt. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead 6-8 minutes on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Set in a warm place to rise until double, about an hour.
Punch down dough, and cut off pieces to roll into golf-ball sized balls. I think I got 18 out of one batch. Place balls on a tray, cover with a damp cloth and let rise another 1/2 hour. While rising, heat a griddle or heavy skillet.
When ready to cook, grease griddle. Roll each ball into a thin round, only rolling out as many as you can fit on your griddle. Keep the other balls covered and damp. Cook until lightly browned and puffy, then brush butter on the raw side and turn over (2-3 minutes). Brush cooked side with butter. When the second side is browned, the naan is done.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, 2 tsp of cayenne! I still think that's a lot.

    Since you are using homegrown chiles, would you like to enter this post in our Grow Your Own roundup this month? Full Details at