Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

We ate at 7:00 last night, by which time Wyatt and Loretta were cross-eyed with hunger .  As I've mentioned before, 5:00 (6:00 if you're living on the edge) becomes your new dinnertime with the advent of children.

I was so tired yesterday--just couldn't get going to empty the dishwasher and start dinner.  These are the times that more well-adjusted people order take-out or make a grilled cheese sandwich.  They check in with themselves ("Wow!  I sure am tired tonight.  I think I"ll give myself a break") and make a wise decision NOT to walk down to the store with their toddler at 6:00 to buy cream for the Saveur recipe that's stubbornly lodged in their brain.  I am glad those people inhabit the world.  But I am not one of them.

At least I have something to show for it.  This Chicken Tikka Masala is mighty close to other things I've made over the years, but I've never actually made this "classic," as Saveur terms it.  Loretta and Yancey were taking marathon naps, Wyatt was playing computer games, and I was lying in bed flipping though new cooking magazines.  I think this became Priority Number One because 1) it looked tasty and easy and 2) I had everything for it.  Except for cream. So I promised Loretta a sucker if she'd come with me to the store.  Of course she finished it one block into our walk and was begging for Cheetos by the time we got there.  When I said "no," she proceeded to lean out of her stroller and throw several bags from the display rack.  It seems slightly humorous now that I'm 24 hours away from it, but I wanted to drop her off at the bus stop in that moment.  Rascal.

Once we finally sat down, Wyatt could not get enough.  He ate a huge helping at dinner, then kept stealing more chicken from the pan while he was helping me do dishes.  He said, "Remember when I didn't like spicy food?"  Cute.  This isn't very spicy, despite the jalapeño (I used a Thai chile) in the curry.  You could spice it up or put some fresh chiles on top of yours like I did. I've got two Thai chile plants going berserk in my garden, so I'll be putting them on oatmeal pretty soon.

Had leftovers for lunch today, and it was even better.  Put Loretta down for a nap, cleared the table, picked another chile, and hoped Safeway hasn't taken out a restraining order on us yet.

Working Lunch

Chicken Tikka Masala
This is almost exactly as it appears in Saveur except I used just one onion.  They called for two, and that seemed like a lot to me.  Plus, it was one of those nights when I was invested in the kids really liking dinner. Too many onions might have jeopardized that.

1 tbsp. ground turmeric
4 tsp. garam masala
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1  2 1⁄2" piece ginger, peeled and chopped
jalapeño, stemmed and chopped
1  28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts,
cut into 1 1⁄2" cubes
1⁄4 cup plain yogurt
Kosher salt, to taste
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1⁄2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tbsp. paprika
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
Cilantro leaves, julienned fresh ginger, and fresh chiles  for garnish
Cooked basmati rice, for serving


1. In a blender, purée turmeric, 2 tsp. garam masala, coloring, garlic, ginger, jalapeños, and 1⁄2 cup water. Put paste into a bowl. In the same blender, purée tomatoes and strain through a sieve. In a bowl, mix 2 tbsp. paste, chicken, yogurt, and salt; marinate for 30 minutes. Place oven rack 4" from heating element; heat to broil. Transfer chicken to a foil-lined sheet tray; broil until cooked, 5–6 minutes; set aside.

2. Heat butter in 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add coriander and cumin; toast 4–6 minutes. Add paprika and onions; cook until soft, 6–8 minutes. Add remaining paste; brown for 5–6 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in cream and 1 cup water; boil. Reduce heat; simmer until thickened, 6–8 minutes. Stir in remaining garam masala and chicken; season with salt. Serve with garnishes and rice.