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Chicken Tikka Masala

by Suneeta Vaswani

Serves 8

This dish was called Chicken Makhanwalla (Butter Chicken) until the British adopted it as their favorite Indian dish and its name morphed into this one. Chicken Tikka means “bite-size boneless chicken.”


12   cooked tandoori chicken thighs, divided   
3    green chilies, preferably serranos   
1    piece (1 inch) peeled gingerroot   
1    can (28 oz. whole ) or 1 diced tomatoes, including juice  
1⁄2 cup   butter, divided   
2 tbsp    freshly ground toasted cumin seeds, divided    
2 tsp     paprika  
1 cup     whipping (35%) cream   
1 1⁄2 tsp  salt or to taste  
2 tsp     garam masala 
3⁄4 cup   cilantro, chopped

1.   Carefully debone cooked chicken, taking care not to shred it.
2.   In a food processor, process chilies and ginger. Add tomatoes with juice and purée until smooth.
3.   In a large saucepan, melt 1⁄4 cup of the butter over medium heat. Add one-third of the chicken and sauté until edges begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Brown remaining 2 batches of chicken in the same manner, adding 2 tbsp of the remaining butter as needed to prevent sticking.
4.   Melt remaining 2 tbsp of butter in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring and scraping up all browned bits. Stir in 4 tsp. of the cumin seeds and paprika. Stir rapidly for 1 minute.
5.   Pour in tomato mixture and return to a gentle boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently to allow flavors to blend, about 10 minutes. Add cream, salt, chicken and accumulated juices. Simmer, uncovered, stirring gently a few times and scraping bottom to prevent burning, until chicken is heated through, 10 to 12 minutes.
6.   Stir in garam masala and remaining cumin. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serve garnished with cilantro.

This dish is better prepared ahead. Let cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat on very low heat or in microwave. (If made ahead, add fresh cilantro and a little additional garam masala and cumin before serving.)

To toast cumin seeds: Spread seeds in a layer in a heavy dry skillet. Cook over medium heat, shaking skillet occasionally to toast evenly, until seeds are a little darker and aromatic, 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool. Grind to a powder in a spice grinder.

Recipes reprinted with permission from Easy Indian Cooking, by Suneeta Vaswani, Robert Rose Inc., 2004. Photos by Mark T. Shapiro.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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