~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chicken Tikka Masala...Cook's Illustrated Version

Chicken Tikka Masala...

With turmeric and thinned out with milk.
This was before I added turmeric for color...and thinned it a bit with milk.
Chicken Tikka Masala... A popular dish in many Indian restaurants. Supposedly this dish was created in a Glasglow restaurant when a customer ordered some Chicken Tikka and thought it was too dry. He ordered some gravy to go along wth the dish. The chef complied and made a sauce from tomato soup, yoghurt, and spices. The story isn't proven ...but the dish has become very popular. It even became Britain's "true national dish". Recently , my sister-in-law had this dish at a restaurant and absolutely loved it. She asked me if I had ever made it...I hadn't. So, I searched the internet for a great Chicken Tikka Masala recipe.

I finally decided to try the Cook's Illustrated version found on Recipezaar. I love Cook's Illustrated and felt that I couldn't go wrong with their recipe. It actually turned out to be a wonderful recipe! I did change a few things, just because I felt the outcome would taste and look better. I wanted the chicken to have a ton of flavor so I marinated the chicken overnight. I adjusted the seasoning...added a bit more salt and increaded the sugar to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. After trying out a serving of the dish for lunch, I felt that the sauce could have been a bit thinner...so, I added some milk. Also, I would have liked the sauce to have a more yellow color...so, I added some color in the form of turmeric. After making these "minor" adjustments, I was finally satisfied!

Feel free to add some extra spice if you want it spicier. Just taste the masala sauce, and adjust seasoning to your liking. There are many recipes out there that have more garam masala and extra cream. But, I was very happy with the result ...my husband loved it and had seconds. He even had it for dinner:). I love the fact that you can easily reheat it on low heat...and it tastes just as good. We served it with some homemade Indian flatbread...Paratha. You can also serve it with some homemade Naan bread. I hope you will enjoy it as well. Feel free to do the original recipe found here. Hope you enjoy...

Note: You can marinate chicken and then grill it... setting it aside, while you make the masala sauce. OR you can make the masala sauce ahead and then grill the chicken... it's up to you, do the steps however it is easier  for you. 

You will need: adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Chicken Tikka:
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste ( I used some chile flakes)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chiken breast , trimmed of fat (I used 2 1/2 lbs)
1 cup plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves,minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (grated)

Masala Sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced fine
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 teaspoons fresh ginger (grated)
1 serrano chili ( I used 2 jalapenos, since that is what I had on hand)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar (I used more like 3-4 tsps)
1/2 teaspoon table salt ( I used about 3/4 tsp)
2/3-1 cup heavy cream*
1 tsp turmeric, optional
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, or to taste
* I find myself thinning out the sauce with an extra 1/2 cup half-half/cream... even whole milk



1. Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl.

2. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres.
3. Add the crushed garlic and ginger.

4. Rub it on the chicken and drizzle the olive oil.
5. Place chicken in a ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight (or several hours).

6. Take the chicken out from the fridge and add the yoghurt. Make sure it coats the chicken well.

7. Let marinate for another 1-2 hours.

In the meantime, get all the ingredients for the masala ready.


1. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.
2. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

4. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil.

5. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. It is at this point that you may adjust the seasoning and add more spice if you like it spicier.

6. Stir in cream and return to simmer.

7. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.
8. Grill chicken on medium heat. Make sure you coat the chicken well with the yoghurt. Also, make sure you oil the grill ...as the chicken can easily stick.
Now, I often make the chicken ahead...as I have found it much easier to warm it back up in the sauce. This way you can even make it a day ahead or hours before.

Note: You can also do the chicken in the oven using the broiler. Just adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler. Dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

9. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce).

10. Stir in cilantro, and serve over rice.


Sailaja Damodaran said...

Looking excellent & very inviting

Esty said...

this looks so gooddddd!!!! it'd be so fun to visit montana and hang out with you guys!

Sailaja Damodaran said...

ur tagged see www.sailajakitchen.com

Anonymous said...

I love this dish! It's such a simple, yet delicious dish and it tends to please almost everyone who is willing to try a new dish! Thanks for posting the recipe and for the suggestions! I just recently bought some Garam Masala from a local international food store so I'll be trying this out very soon!

Ellie said...

We really enjoyed it...a great deal:)!Let me know how it comes out for you.