Nirvana: Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Maybe my bad dreams last night were also rooted in reality.

This weekend, I cooked my butt off (recipes pending). I think I used each pot and pan in my house 4 times over! All this is to explain why the next few recipes will have a somewhat ... random ... collection of photos. I didn't even have time to sip a glass of wine while I cooked, and that's an absolute necessity.

But alas, we ate well. Mr. Luz and I hosted dinner for some new friends who we hope to spend alot of time with in the future. In order to entice them to hang out with us more, I invited some more lovely people, made my favorite recipe (this week), and unleashed Mr. Luz on the ambiance. Anyone who knows Mr. Luz knows that he doesn't do anything even 90%, so the apartment looked beautiful.

I made a Chicken Tikka Masala recipe from Fine Cooking's "Dinner Parties" publication. It's one of the few recipes that I only change minimally, because it's soo tasty. Can you tell that I love this dish?
I'm not certain that it's entirely authentic Indian cuisine, but it tastes tangy and rich, with a little bit of spice and mystery. This recipe serves 6 and if you don't have 6 diners, make it anyway. You'll crave the leftovers.Chicken Tikka Masala:

For Tandoori Chicken
12 chicken thighs
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. garam masala
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne

For Tikka Masala
1 large serrano chile (or other hot green chile) chopped w/seeds
2 Tbs. peeled and chopped fresh ginger
1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
8 Tbs. unsalted butter
Tandoori Chicken, in large bite-sized pieces
2 tsp. paprika
2 Tbs. cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. garam masala
Prepared rice (see note below)
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Make the Tandoori Chicken

Remove the skin and excess fat from the chicken. Cut three or four long, diagonal slits on each thigh against the grain.

Mix the remaining ingredients for tandoori chicken in a large bowl. Add chicken and stir to coat. Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line baking sheets w/foil, and place chicken on sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, or until juices run clear when pierced with a knife. (If you are using bone-in thighs, bake for 40 minutes.)
For Tikka Masala

Blend or food process chile and ginger until very finely chopped. Add tomatoes and juice, and blend until pureed.
Melt 6 Tbs. of the butter in large pot over medium heat. Add 1/3 of the chicken pieces and cook until the chicken absorbs some butter and begins to brown--about 6 minutes.Transfer to a plate, and repeat with the remaining chicken. You want the bottom of the pot to brown pretty significantly--this will add the rich, "mysterious" flavor to your tikka masala.

Melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter in the pan, and add paprika and 4 tsp. of the cumin. Stir until the spices are fragrant. Add tomato/chile mixture and simmer uncovered, until the sauce has thickened to the consistency of pasta sauce.
Stir as the mixture simmers, releasing the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the cream and salt.
Add the chicken, garam masala, and remaining cumin and simmer for 10 minutes. (If adding peppers,potatoes, ect. add them at this time). Add more salt and red pepper if necessary.
Serve on top of rice (see tip below) and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Tips and Tricks:
To stretch this recipe and great texture and flavor, stir-fry 1 coarse chopped bell pepper and 1 cup of onion wedges and add them to the dish along with cubed, parboiled potatoes.

The Tikka Masala is better after it's sat overnight.

For more flavor, prepare rice with chicken broth, garam masala, and chopped raisins.