Tikka Masala

I live in the sticks where spaghetti is pretty much as ethnic as you can get. Lately, I’ve had a hankering for some Indian flavors but didn’t know how to go about it. Not that authentic spices are readily available around here, because they’re not. So, I wandered about the web trying to find something easy that I could get away with without having to travel to New Dehli.

Here’s what I came up with. I looked at several recipes and this one is pretty much just a combination of all of them. Just what I thought would be quick and easy. So, let’s see… I could get cumin and cinnamon powder at the grocery store. And luckily, there’s a little Asian market down the street which happens to carry a small pack of garam masala, an aromatic spice blend which I believe contains cumin and cinnamon, as well. The rest is usual fare.

The carrots here are just my own added twist to it. You can serve it with whatever veggie you fancy. But adding a bit of cilantro really brings the dish to a new level, I believe. You could probably do without it but I’m a big cilantro fan, so there you go. And since I don’t have a built-in tandoor oven in the house, the backyard grill would have to do, for now.

Hmmm… it’s not spicy, at all. And evidently, this dish is more a British staple than anything else. But who cares? It’s good and that’s all that matters, right? So let’s chow down, mate!

Ingredients (4 servings):
4 Chicken Breasts
8 thin Carrots
1 1/2 cup Plain Yogurt
2 Lemons, cut into wedges
4 tbs Garam Masala
4 tbs Ground Cumin
1 tbs Ground Cinnamon
1 tbs Cayenne Pepper
2 tbs Paprika
1 tbs Fresh Ginger, minced
2 tbs Butter
2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Tomato Sauce
1 cup Heavy Cream
Bunch Fresh Cilantro
Salt & Pepper to taste

Do this a day ahead. In a wide bowl, combine yogurt, the juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 tbs cumin, cinnamon, garam masala, cayenne, ginger and salt & pepper to taste. Rub chicken and carrots with the mixture. Cover and keep in the fridge overnight.

Grill chicken and carrots until done. Discard marinade. Chop the chicken into bite-size pieces.

For the sauce, use a dutch oven to melt butter over medium heat. Sauté garlic for a couple of minutes. Add 2 tbs cumin, paprika, tomato sauce, cream and salt & pepper to taste. Lower the heat and simmer until sauce thickens, 15-20 minutes, more or less. Add grilled chicken and carrots, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Give it a taste and re-season accordingly.

Transfer to serving platters. Garnish with fresh cilantro and a lemon wedges. Serve with basmati rice and/or some kind of mid-eastern bread like naan or pita.


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