My husband and I love Indian food. There are a couple of good places around where we live that we like to eat at – and when you get good Indian food, oh man is it EVER good! If you’ve never had Indian before, I suggest you start off easy with a nice butter chicken. If you’re not sure about the places near you (because you can definitely get bad Indian :p) then buy one of the jars of butter chicken sauce from Costco, or try making your own butter chicken with this recipe from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry (it’s not hard!).
Papad has been a recent discovery for us – it’s these flat bread crackers that you dip into sauces and is often served as a precursor to your meal. We like it with mango chutney, so delish! We had tried finding them at our grocery store in the ethnic section, but were unsuccessful. But because of where we live, there are a lot of Indian grocers around, so that was the big duh moment! The Man was able to find them no problem! There are different flavours of papad, we like the caraway ones, but could only find the plain ones. They’re easy to prepare – just put a little (VERY LITTLE!) oil in a frying pan, add the papad, press down and turn with a spatula, flipping frequently so as not to over cook it. Then remove to a paper towel. It will harden as it cools, but during the cooking process is quite soft.
Another favourite dish of ours is Chicken Tikka Masala. This is a super flavourful, spicy dish, full of cumin, coriander and a special blend of spices called garam masala.
You should be able to find this in an ethnic section of your grocery store (we found it at No Frills in Ontario), but if you are unable, you can also make the blend yourself.
Garam Masala Spice Mixture
1 tablespoon coriander; ground
1 tablespoon cumin; ground
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper; ground
1 tablespoon fennel seeds; ground
1 tablespoon ginger; ground
1 tablespoon cardamom; ground
1 tablespoon nutmeg; ground
1 TEASPOON cloves; ground
I have tried a couple different chicken tikka masala recipes, trying to find one that tasted at least somewhat close to what you would get at our favourite Indian restaurant. My first attempt was an utter failure. It didn’t taste anything like it was supposed to (just chicken in a tomato sauce, boring!) though our friends, Chris and Kitty, whom we served it to, were probably relieved since they’re not big fans of Indian/spicy food ;0)
My second attempt was very much like butter chicken. While we love butter chicken, it just did not have the right blend of spices, and the flavour was too mild. I gave up and decided it was too difficult.
Until hubby brought home the papad. Suddenly I started researching recipes again and settled on a couple to compare and try. The result was a SMASHING success! We’d finally found our best authentic chicken tikka masala recipe! The Man even brought home a jar of the sauce from the store for us to compare to, did a blind taste test, and chose mine over it!
So here’s the recipe we settled on. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! If you like it spicier, you can add in chile peppers – but just so you know, between the chili powder on the chicken and the garam masala mix, it does have a nice little bite to it. Not a fire, fire fire! bite, but enough to get your taste buds jumping :0) Enjoy!
Best Authentic Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
Chicken and Spice Rub:
- 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or chili powder)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plain yogurt (the more fat the better!)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-4 garlic cloves, minced (better flavour if you mince it vs. pressing it through a garlic press)
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
Mix spices together and rub over both sides of the chicken breast, pressing in. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Mix together yogurt, oil, garlic and ginger.
Dredge the chicken through the yogurt mixture, making sure to coat it well.
Preheat oven on the broiler and line a cookie sheet with foil. If you don’t have an uncoated cooling rack (mine is covered in a plastic), just place the chicken right on the oven’s metal shelves, about 6 inches from the element, with the cookie sheet underneath to catch any drips. Broil about 5-7 minutes per side, or until cooked (they won’t be cooked past this point, so make sure they’re cooked through!). They should be slightly blackened, but not charred.
Chicken Tikka Masala Sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1-3 tablespoons garam masala (depending on how flavourful and spicy you want it – I used 3 tablespoons, a little spicy for the kids though!)
- 1/2 can (14 ounces total) crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 can (14 ounces total) diced tomatoes (make sure both the tomatoes are plain, no spices added!)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 – 1 cup cream (heavy or half and half is fine – the amount varies depending on how creamy you want your sauce to be)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Heat a frying pan and add the oil. Saute onions until soft and slightly golden, about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, tomato paste and garam masala, cooking until fragrant (about 2-3 minutes). Stir frequently so it doesn’t burn! This is where you want to add any more garam masala to the dish because the “fragrancing” is where all the flavours come out!
Add tomatoes, sugar and salt and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes (stir occasionally). Stir in cream and return to a simmer. Remove pan from the heat and keep warm.
Cut up the chicken into chunks and add to the sauce – you do not want to heat the chicken up in the sauce, so make sure it is cooked through and still hot when you add it. Stir in the cilantro or garnish on top.
Serve with hot basmati rice, garlic naan and papad.