I have mentioned before that Midwestia has a severe lack of ethnic eateries. I have also mentioned that this has forced me to become more adventurous in the kitchen, putting together my favorite ethnic take-out and restaurant dishes at home. Until now this mostly consisted of my favorite Korean Recipes, Japanese dishes, Russian dishes, Mexican dishes, and Spanish dishes. Until now. Now I have finally, this weekend, conquered a fear of mine: Indian Food. Let me clarify-I was never afraid of eating Indian Food. I love Indian Food. I adore it. I would eat it several times a week were there a viable restaurant option in town. But cook it myself? Every time I even read a recipe for an Indian dish I got woozy somewhere between cardamon pods, ginger, garlic, and onion paste and heavy cream. There are so many ingredients in some of these recipes!
But that's changed now. Now I have triumphed over my fears and appear before you (figuratively) a home cook who makes a Chicken Tikka Masala that would rival your favorite take-out joint. A housewife who has made saag paneer (Indian Cheese and Spinach) from scratch (that paneer itself is so easy to make it's scary) and lived to tell the tale. So, internet friends, this week's recipes are dedicated to my adventures. First I give you everyone's favorite entry into Indian cuisine; Chicken Tikka Masala. Next, Saag Paneer, and finally a delicious way to use up all of your leftover basmati rice in a Masala Chai-spiced rice pudding! And it's so much HEALTHIER to cook it at home-I control the amount of cream in the dish, etc. I love that.
Note: This recipe takes a bit of time to put together the first time, so I recommend doing it on a day when you are home doing other things. I've tried shortcut recipes for this dish, but they just lacked real flavor and authenticity. I think you need about 90 minutes to make this, but most of those minutes are not active cooking time. The results are worth it!
CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA
(Thank you to my dear friend Erica's Brother-in-law, Rich, for this recipe. It is AMAZING)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
Up to 2 lbs. chicken breast (I used 1.25 lbs, but it was so good I wish I used the whole 2!)
((if you want to make this vegetarian, you can use tofu or paneer instead)
1 cup plain yogurt (lowfat is ok)
1 TBSP fresh ginger, minced
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 onion, sliced into half-moons
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 TBSP tomato paste
1 TBSP Garam Masala powder
1 28 oz. can crushed tomato
2 tsp sugar
2/3 cup light cream/half-half/heavy cream (I used half and half but then decided to add a drop of real, heavy cream, too.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
Blend first 4 ingredients of the marinade and use to coat chicken. Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes, mix yogurt, garlic, and ginger into the bowl with the chicken and mix well. Place back in the fridge for another 3o minutes. While the chicken is marinating, make sauce: Sautée onion in oil until golden. Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Then add garam masala, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, cilantro, sugar, and salt, and bring to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. While sauce is simmering and once the marinating time is up broil chicken on high for 9 minutes per side. Remove from oven and when cool enough cut into 1''x1'' bites. Stir cream into sauce and add chicken. Serve with chopped cilantro garnish over white basmati rice.
closeup of deliciousness from our friends at Arielle Doneson Photography- www.AriellePhoto.com