My take on Chicken Tikka Masala

I recently visited Nepal, where they feature a lot of Indian foods. I fell in love with authentic Masala Chicken. When I got home, I just had to concoct my own recipe. This is pretty darn close to the real thing, both in terms of flavor and authenticity.

First, make some garam masala spice. Combine the following spices:

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • .5 teaspoon ground cloves
  • .5 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • .5 teaspoon yellow curry powder

Mix well, then toss in a dry skillet and roast them over medium-high heat for about 60 seconds. Keep the pan moving so the spices don’t burn. You’ll want the mixture to get fragrant, start to darken, and just barely start to smoke. Once it’s there, remove from the heat and grind up the spices with a mortar and pestle.

Next, marinate 6 chicken thighs in plain greek yogurt with a dash of peanut oil, lime juice, and a couple cloves of minced garlic. Use a fork to poke holes in the chicken and let this sit in the fridge for a couple hours.

Now, make your spice mixture:

  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoons of the garam masala from above (save the rest for next time)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Whisk these together in a small bowl and set aside.

When your chicken is marinated and you’re ready to start cooking, start making your sauce. Caramelize one small onion in some butter in a medium sauce pan. Throw in a bit of grated ginger, minced garlic, and one (or more) minced red chili pepper. Leave the seeds in for some added heat 🙂 Add six small ripe Roma tomatoes to a food processor and make a smooth sauce. Add the spices and tomatoes to your sauce pan, then add a couple tablespoons of plain yogurt, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Go ahead and throw the thighs on a hot, oiled skillet or grill grate and brown them for 2-3 minutes each side. When they’re nice and browned but not cooked fully through, pull them off the skillet or grill and chop them into 3/4-inch strips. Toss them into the masala sauce and simmer for 10-15 more minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thickened.

You’re done! Enjoy with some warm naan or over Basmati rice.