Wow – you guys are good! You all noticed that the sandwich from yesterday was upside down. I didn’t mean for it to be that way, of course. But once I had it made, I didn’t want to turn it upside down – or right side up – because then the filling would be all wrong. Yeah, I know I’m weird!
Onto this recipe…
When I first announced this month’s Cookbook of the Month, I asked for your favorite Indian dishes. Many people said Butter Chicken. So of course, I went to the cookbook and looked to see if there was a recipe for Butter Chicken. Sure enough, there was. Then I noticed below the title, it said – Chicken Tikka Masala. Well, in my little bit of experience with Indian food, I had never heard of Butter Chicken, but I have had Chicken Tikka Masala before! What I didn’t realize before is that they are the same thing!
So I had high hopes for this recipe. I believe this is probably the most popular Indian dish. Sadly, it didn’t quite pan out for me this time around. But I think I know why. First – and I’m sure this is the big one – the recipe calls for fresh tomatoes. This would have been fine if it was August and I could go out and pull fresh tomatoes from my garden. But it’s not. It’s May. And fresh tomatoes this time of year? They taste like nothing. I wish I would have used canned tomatoes, but I didn’t. I used tasteless, grocery store tomatoes. In fact, when I pureed them, it was a lovely shade of pink, not red like you would expect coming from tomatoes. So I think that was strike number 1 for this dish. It was definitely lacking the flavor that good tomatoes would have brought. Second, I marinated my chicken for a full 24 hours. I didn’t intend to, but right as I was starting my marinade, my husband said that he was craving hamburgers and wanted to grill. So I made the marinade and left the chicken to marinate overnight. Well, in the final dish, the chicken had a strange texture to it. I’m not sure if it’s because it marinated so long or what. But the recipe does say that you can marinate it overnight, so I’m not sure what happened there.
from Indian Home Cooking
total time: about 45 minutes, plus marinating time
4 garlic cloves
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro stems (tender, light green parts only); optional
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds), cut crosswise into thirds
1 large red onion, cut into large chunks
4 garlic cloves
2 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/3 cup canola oil
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, pureed in a food processor
1/2 cup heavy cream
For the marinade, combine the ingredients in a food processor and puree.
Toss the chicken with the marinade in a bowl and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to overnight, if you can.
When the chicken has marinated, puree the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor and set aside.
Combine the oil and the cinnamon stick in a large saucepan or casserole over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the cinnamon stick unfurls, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onion puree and salt, and cook, stirring, until it turns light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Keep a cup of water beside the stove while the onion cooks. As the onion begins to stick, add water, about 1 teaspoon at a time, and scrape the bottom of the pan with the spoon to pull up the browned bits and keep the onion from burning.
Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the pureed tomatoes, give the sauce a stir, and simmer until the oil separates, about 10 minutes. Add the cream, bring to a simmer, and take the sauce off the heat. Heat the oven to 350F. Lift the chicken breasts out of the marinade and arrange them in a single layer on a drip tray or, in a pinch, a foil-lined baking sheet. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Then put them into the pan with the sauce and stir gently. Warm over medium heat 5 minutes. Taste for salt and serve hot.