You know that saying, ‘appearances are deceiving’? I love that one. In fact, if I’m entirely honest, I kind of like the shock factor involved when people discover that some of the ‘appearances’ in my life aren’t quite what they seem to be.
For instance, if you were to see Dudette and me together, you’d comment about how much alike we look. We both have lots of thick, dark hair, olive skin and brown eyes. It goes farther than that though. We’re both strong willed and opinionated. You’d look at us and comment on how the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
Except that Dudette’s adopted.
See what I mean? Appearances are deceiving.
I’ve got that on my mind today because of this dish. I already knew that garam masala is used in Indian cooking, so I’ve always assumed that tikka masala was an East Asian dish. Ready for this one?
It’s British. Seriously. It was created in an Indian restaurant, yeah, but the restaurant was in the United Kingdom. And, the British Foreign Minister actually said that, ‘Chicken Tikka Massala is now a true British national dish.’
No matter where tikka masala is from, I love it. I adore the various spices that make up garam masala and find them more than a little addicting.
In order to speed up the process and keep the time down, Family Circle had me brown the chicken on a pan under the broiler instead of in the skillet in which the sauce was created. Starting the chicken’s cooking process that way may have allowed me to get the sauce going at the same time, but it eliminated the opportunity for a lot of flavor-building that would have come from browning the thighs in the skillet instead.
In any event, I did coat the chicken with the seasoned yogurt, put it on a broiler pan, and broiled it for about 12 minutes.
While that was happening, I made the sauce in a large skillet by sautéing onions, stirring in spices, adding yogurt and cream and tomatoes. After a few minutes of letting the flavors meld, I added in the chicken, put the lid on and let it all simmer until the meat was cooked through.
I served the chicken with brown and red basmati rice and peas. Dudette, who usually likes rice (and peas), was not a fan of the new variety and it came close to tainting her view of the entire meal. She was able to push past it though, and finally ate the chicken. She did like it, but thought it was a bit too spicy for her (my cayenne pepper is fresh so it could have been that).
Hubby and I loved the tikka masala. Loved, loved, loved. The flavors are warm and wonderful. I don’t know how else to describe them. It was delicious and hard to stop eating at just one serving.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I’d definitely sear the chicken pieces in the same large skillet in which I create the sauce, removing them until it’s time to add them back in again. The extra few minutes that it takes is worth having the juices from the chicken and the cooked bits incorporated into the sauce (plus, it saves on clean-up). I would also use a can of diced tomatoes instead of whole just because I can never break up the whole, peeled tomatoes without making them squirt all over or into small enough bits.
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
- 2½ teaspoons garam masala
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- 8 small boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1¾ lbs)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 can (28 oz) whole, peeled tomatoes
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- 1 cup basmati rice, cooked following pkg directions, substituting chicken broth for water
- Naan (optional)
- Heat broiler to high. Line broiler pan with nonstick foil.
- In a small bowl, combine ginger, garam masala, garlic, salt and cayenne. In a large bowl, combine 1 tbsp of the ginger mixture and ½ cup of the yogurt. Add chicken and toss to coat. Place on prepared broiler pan and broil 6 inches from heat source for 6 minutes per side.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes; stir in remaining ginger mixture and cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, cream and remaining ½ cup yogurt. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add chicken to skillet; simmer, covered with lid slightly ajar, for 6 to 8 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees .
- Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice and, if desired, naan.
How about you? I’m sure your appearances are deceiving too. C’mon, shock me.