Mariel here. Before my husband and I moved to the ‘burbs, Indian was always on the weekly takeout roster – it reminded us of our freewheeling, baby-free days in Hong Kong where Mother Britain’s epic love of Indian fare culminated in as many curry shops as there were Cantonese restos. There was a delicious little hole in the wall just right up the street, and while it wasn’t worthy of an in-person visit, it churned out some of the best Tikka Masala and Tandoori this side of Mumbai. Since moving back to the relatively bland culinary landscape of suburban New York, we’ve yet to find a place that lives up to our expectations, meaning Indian has been all but eliminated from the menu.
So when I was assigned a recipe from Annie’s Noms for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I jumped at the chance to make her Chicken Tikka Masala. For those of you who don’t know Annie, she’s a born and bred Brit who’s currently studying to be an interior designer. In her spare time, she sates her sweet tooth with an ever-expanding repertoire of delicious-looking baked goods. I bookmarked several for future endeavors (umm, hello Lemon Curd Cheesecake Bars and Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes), but I couldn’t get her Masala off my brain. While us Americans typically keep a Chinese takeout place on speed-dial, in the UK, it’s all about the Indian. So I trusted her taste buds…and boy did she deliver.
Annie originally made this for her boyfriend, who likes things spicy, but since I’m cooking for an 18-month-old, I decided to make a few adjustments. This Tikka Masala is wonderfully fragrant, with just the perfect amount of kick. And happily, my young son gobbled it right up, which was suprising since it’s far more exotic than his usual fare of Pesto-Parmesan Meatballs and Vegetable Lasagna. If you have a yen for a bowl of something warm and comforting, look no further than the Far East…
Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 3 to 4
Adapted from Annie’s Noms
Ingredients for the Marinade:
¾-cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt – $1.49
3 teaspoons lemon juice – stock
¾ teaspoon ground cumin – stock
¾ teaspoon kosher salt – stock
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper – stock
¼ teaspoon ground ginger – stock
1½ lbs chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes – $7.50
Ingredients for the Sauce:
Olive oil – stock
1 Tablespoon butter – stock
2 garlic cloves, minced – stock
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped – $0.89
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger – $0.15
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper – stock
1 Tablespoon garam masala – $3.79
½ teaspoon paprika – stock
~2 teaspoons kosher salt (NOTE: salt in stages, everyone’s preferences vary) – stock
26-oz container of pureed or strained tomatoes (I use Pomi) – $2.99
1 Tablespoon white sugar – stock
¾ cup light cream – $1.69
¼ cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt – calculated above
Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $18.50
Cost per serving: $4.62
1. In a large plastic or glass bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients with the cubed chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
2. After marinading the chicken, heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over med-high heat. Once the oil is hot, brown the chicken in batches. Throw away any excess marinade. Set the browned chicken aside on a plate.
3. Using the same skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the spices, some salt and the grated ginger. Cook for another minute.
4. Add the pureed tomatoes and sugar to the skillet.
5. Whisk together the light cream and yogurt, then add to the skillet. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add the chicken and cook another 5 minutes. Serve hot over rice, quinoa, with naan and/or garnished with fresh cilantro.