A First Attempt At Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala

And Indian Favorite: Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala
As a food blogger and obsessive home cook, I keep a running list of things that I want to attempt to make or recreate in my Small Boston Kitchen.  My list isn't anything fancy or super serious, it's just a bunch of random dishes or ingredients that I'd like to try.  Whenever I'm drawing a blank or having some trouble thinking of what to make, I turn to my list, pick something off of it, turn to my kitchen and get cooking.  Tonight, I'm happy to announce, I'm crossing one item off my list that's been on there for a while: Chicken Tikka Masala.

I love Chicken Tikka Masala.  I mean, what's not to love?  A rich, spicy tomato-y sauce hugging tender chunks of chicken and then served alongside rice, how can one pass that up?  Not easily I tell you, not easily.  Whenever I go out for Indian food I find it hard for me to pass it up.  I know it's common request but I think it's so popular for  reason, it's just so darn tasty and I knew I wanted to create my own version of this popular Indian dish in my Small Boston Kitchen.

When thinking about how I would tackle this recipe, I turned to Google and found a plethora of recipes and lots of variations however, me being me, I wanted to go without a recipe and create from instinct and taste and I was really happy with my results.  Once I had my spices and herbs laid out on the counter, the rest was pretty easy.  To help bring all the flavors together, I slowly simmered it in a tagine until the sauce got rich and flavorful and the chicken was tender that it was falling apart.  I suspect a crockpot set to low or a dutch oven would also do the trick and yield similar results.  Another adjustment that I made to the traditional recipe for this dish was that the I omitted the mass amounts of butter that are usually part of this recipe and instead, turned to Greek yogurt and tomato paste to provide a luxurious richness to the sauce.  Truth be told, I didn't miss the fat one bit and I plan to make this at home much more often.  What is it that is so satisfying about not only crossing something off your list, but making something that you've never made before, from scratch?

Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala

Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala
*Serves 3-4 people 

- 3 chicken breasts, cleaned
- 1 container small plain Greek yogurt
- Salt and pepper (just a little for the chicken)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- About a 1 inch thick piece of fresh ginger root, finely grated so it becomes a paste
- 1 - 6 oz can of tomato paste
- About 1/2 - 2/3 of a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- sprinkle of fennel seeds
- About 1 tbs of garam masala (found in the spice aisles of most grocery stores)
- About 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
- About 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- About 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder (depending on how hot you want it!)
- 2 cups of rice (I used brown basmati, cooked with a couple of cardamom pods, optional)
- Chopped cilantro for garnish

Start by preheating the oven to 400 and coating the chicken breasts with the yogurt and a little salt and pepper.  Bake until the chicken is just cooked through, set it aside to cool.

Meanwhile, using the base of a tagine, heat the chopped onions in a little bit of salt.  Let them cook, stirring occasionally until they start to soften.  Add the minced garlic and cook for a few minutes longer.  Add the ginger and stir in the tomato paste.  Stirring continuously, heat the onion/tomato paste mixture until it gets a little darker in color.  (About 5 minutes or so).  Add the fennel, chili powder, coriander, cumin and garam masala and let that cook for a couple of minutes.  Add in the crushed tomatoes, stir and taste.  Season accordingly.

Next, chop the chicken into cubes and gently stir it into the sauce.  Make sure the chicken is coated in the sauce, reduce the heat to low and cover the tagine.  Let it cook for about 3-4 hours, being careful not to remove the lid, which would allow the heat to escape.  After 3-4 hours, spoon the rice into a bowl, add a spoonful of the sauce and top with the cilantro.  Serve immediately.


Sirisha said...

This is such a healthy version to the high calorie dish I make. I like the substitute of the usual cream with greek yogurt! I can't wait to try it soon.1

Kathy said...

Have you tried making your own Garam Masala? I made my own recently (for something with lentils, maybe?) and it was great (and oh so easy!). Grats on the tikka masal - its so totally one of my favorites too!

Jenious said...

I'm thinking our next meet-up should involve this recipe?! I'll pick the vino. You bring the tagine. :)

Emily said...

Congrats. I made this dish once at home & I remember thinking two things: 1.Man this sauce takes all day and 2) restaurants must use sooooo much buttter to get that rich flavor. The outcome was good but definitely different. Glad yours was a success!

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

Thanks all! It's true, this is usually packed with calories and fat that in my opinion just aren't necessary.

And Jen...let me know when and I'll be there, tagine in hand!

David said...

Sounds delish, something to prepare on a Sunday afternoon while the football game is on.

Elina (Healthy and Sane) said...

Chicken tikka masala is my absolute favorite dish. I don't care that it's not traditional - it's delicious! Sometimes Adam and I would both order it when out. Lately I've been getting paneer tikka masala or even shrimp tikka masala - it's all about the sauce, isn't it? Mmmm, great job on recreating one of your favorites at home!

Boston Food Diary said...

SUCH a great Indian dish to try out! I love it! Congrats on checking it off your list!

Shannon said...

Love this version! I finally made my fav saag paneer, this one is next on my list :)

Justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin said...

WOW! Sweet Tagine! I'm totally jealous. I might have to try this, seems like a perfect winter dish.

Jen said...

Oh you have a tangine! How fun. This looks awesome. I love Indian food. Let me know next time you make this if you want someone to help you eat it up!

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