Chicken Tikka Masala

When I first moved to Seattle, the extent of my knowledge regarding Indian food consisted of the fact that I knew they ate curry. And I had never actually HAD curry, I only knew that it was a food and was from India. Then some friends suggested we go to a nearby Indian restaurant before the Open House at school, and I have been hooked ever since. My favorite dish there is tikka masala, also called butter chicken. As you can imagine, it is somewhat less than healthy, in the way that eating a stick of butter is "somewhat" less healthy than eating a carrot. In Clean Eating a few months ago, they had a recipe for Tikka Masala so I thought I would give it a shot on a day I had off from school, since the recipe said it needed 4 hours of preparation. Then I took a closer look at the recipe, and realized that while I had torn out the ingredients, I had neglected to tear out the directions (face --> palm). So this is cobbled together with ingredients from Clean Eating and directions from allrecipes.com.

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tsp ginger*
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 tsp coriander
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks

1.5 tsp safflower oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ginger*
4.5 tsp garam masala**
1.5 tsp chili powder
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup low-fat sour cream

*I used ginger powder because I didn't have any fresh ginger. If you use fresh ginger, use 4x as much as dried
**garam masala is a mixture of Indian spices. I had to go to Uwajimaya to find some. You can make your own by mixing together spices like coriander, cumin, pepper, ginger, cardamom, etc. Here is one recipe, and here is another one.

Mix together the first set of ingredients and let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. I put mine in a plastic bag and let it sit for about 2 hours. Then saute*** the chicken over medium to medium-high heat, and when it's done set it aside. To make the sauce, heat the oil and saute the garlic for a couple of minutes, then add the onions and saute them until translucent. At this point, turn the heat down to low, add the tomato sauce, spices, and sour cream and let it simmer, stirring frequently, for about 45 minutes. I added the chicken back in about half way through, just for kicks. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.

***"tikka" is a Hindi word for chunks of meat cooked on a skewer. I was feeling quite lazy (my grill is hard to clean and is stored in a rather inaccessible place) so I sauted the meat in a pan instead. I actually think it would taste a little better if it had been grilled.

My thoughts....I liked this. It was a little spicier than I am used to, so in the recipe above I left out part of the cayenne pepper for next time. It also was not as buttery as what I get at Naan N Curry, but that's ok, since there's no butter in this. In a traditional tikka masala, there is butter and heavy cream in the sauce and I would have replaced those anyway. Also, in the Clean Eating recipe, it called for sour cream, where I would have normally used Greek yogurt. I had some trouble with the yogurt curdling when I was baking at Christmas so I decided to follow their recipe, but next time I think I would use the yogurt instead.

Rating: 4/5
Why? It is not as smooth and silky as what I am used to and the spices are different. It is still pretty good and worth playing with.

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