I kind of got obsessed wtih cooking when I was a kid. Probably should have gone to culinary school. I'm the offspring of Irish immigrants with a little ulster plantation scot thrown in the mix. I grew up in central Kentucky but roamed the south from my ealry teens to mid twnties(70s) before spending more time out west, north of the mason dixon line and across the ponds. .
Cajun and Creole are personal favorites and I think I've shared a crawfish etouffe recipe on here once. Of course I make a mean corned brisket and cabbage with stout and my shepherd's pie is decent. Southern and appalachian back country comfaort food have always been staples around here if sometimes trimmed of excessive fats and cholesterol. I make a killer sweet potato and kale breakfast hash with a fried egg on top that's pretty healthy and filling. When I feel like I can get away with it there's really good locally raised, slaughtered and cured bacon or sausage involved. I can probably cook grits as many ways as bubba gump could cook shrimp. I've also picked up a pretty decent range of latin american food from my Ecuadorian wife. I just seldom get to try them because there are usually at least 3 people around who've cooked them much longer and much tastier than me.
To the ponit of the post, I have been obsessed with Chicken Tikka Masala for a long time. 30+ years to be honest. My favorite recipe is of course the one that probably rivals a big mac or a triple baconator for heart stopping fats. It's made with ghee (clarified butter AKA FAT), heavy cream and whole milk yogurt. Cooked long and slow scorching the pan a few times along the way for flavor You can feel your veins clog and your heart slow down after a serving or two of this stuff but man it's good. You can scrape the congealed fat off the top of the leftovers to make it a little more healthy the next day.
Lately I use olive oil, half n half and non-fat yougurt. Or some combination thereof that appeals to my conscience and my palate that day. Like all the best recipes it originated with a grandparent but I got it from the mother of a girl I dated 30+ years ago for just a short time before I met my wife. I've annotated where I try to use "healthier" ingredients. It's no where in the vicinity of the ass kickery that was Mrs Prajapati's Tikka Masala but it's edible.
Takes a pretty good stock of specialty spices but it's worth it. Enjoy.
Pairs well with an IPA. Imagine that.
Chicken Tikka Masala
6 garlic cloves, finely grated
4 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
4 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 - 2 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt (not Greek) - I use fat free plain yogurt.
1 tablespoon kosher salt - or more to taste.
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise- I use the chicken loin strips because they're the same price as boneless breasts and less work.
3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil - I use olive oil. Ghee is pure fat. Tastes good though.
1 small to medium onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste - I use a 6oz can.
6 cardamom pods, crushed - dehusk and just toss in the seeds.
3/8-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes for mild heat or more to taste
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
2 cups heavy cream - I use half n half
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus sprigs for garnish
Steamed basmati rice (for serving)
ACTIVE: 1 1/2 HR - TOTAL: 5½+ HRS
Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk yogurt, salt, and half of spice mixture in a medium bowl; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4-6 hours. - a couple hours is good. It overnight is better. - Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.
Heat ghee (or olive oil) in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and chiles and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft and transparent, about 5 minutes. - until you have some sticking to the bottom. - Add remaining half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes. - almost burn the bottom of the pan. Easier if you use a bit less oil.
Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.
Add cream and chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside or on top of the sheet. Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer. - scrape all the marinade from the pan and cover the chicken. - Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots (it will not be cooked through), about 10 minutes. - don't over cook it in the broiler. It will be juicier more tender if it finishes cooking in the sauce. (For Tandoori Chicken turn chicken over and broil another 8-10 minutes until both sides have black spots.)
Cut the half cooked chicken into bite-size pieces, add to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 8-10 minutes.
Serve with jasmin rice and cilantro sprigs. If you add sides like aloo gobi, saag or chickpeas and naan this can easily feed 10 people.
Do Ahead: Chicken can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill. Reheat before serving.