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Here is the recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala, as prepared in our Jim & Judy episode of Dinner At Your House:

I chose to make Chicken Tikka Masala for Jim and Judy because they were not very familiar with Indian food.  This classic dish is a great introduction to people that have never had Indian food and is often the first dish many try when exploring. 

No Indian restaurant worth its salt exists without having some version of this dish on their menu. It may be called butter chicken in Punjabi restaurants or Chicken Makhani in other varieties of Indian restaurants. 

I love this version; it is my brother Munish’s favorite dish and it's also easy to prepare.  Its creamy tomato sauce can be made mild or spicy and is quite addictive. It helps if the chicken marinates overnight, but it’s not compulsory. 

Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 1 day if possible.  Chicken Tikka Masala can actually be whipped up in less than ten minutes if you have fresh ingredients and chicken around. While I was preparing this dish, the aromas quickly filled the entire house, and Judy mentioned how great it smelled a dozen times throughout the process.  Indeed, it smelled amazing!

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless breast of chicken, although chicken thighs with fat removed can also be used.
  • 10 oz. Plain yogurt (Greek works best, but fat free or low fat can be substituted)
  • The juice of one lemon or lime, or about 2 teaspoons lemon juice.
  • 1 8 0z. container sour cream (fat free or low fat sour cream can be substituted to make a lighter version, or 1 pint of heavy cream can be substituted to make a richer, creamier version.)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (2 tbsps fresh butter, canola oil, peanut oil or sesame oil can be substituted)
  • 2 teaspoons powdered tikka powder.  My favorite is Kissan Tandoori Masala, but I have found that it is difficult to find, so use whichever brand is easily accessible except Patak’s which I do not recommend.  Do without before using Patak’s. 
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger.
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground garlic.
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teasoon tumeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • One 35-ounce can peeled tomatoes, finely chopped, juice discarded. (Two large fresh tomatoes can also be used)

Preparation

  1. If you decide to marinate, in a large glass or stainless steel bowl whisk together yogurt, oil, ginger, garlic, salt, cumin, powdered tikka powder, cayenne and turmeric.  Start with 10 oz. or so of thick plain yogurt.  Greek yogurt works best, in my opinion, but you can use fat free or any variety really, as long as it is plain and not flavored.  The juice of one lemon, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or canola oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon minced or ground garlic and ginger.  I like to use freshly ground garlic cloves and ginger, a mixture which I keep readily available, but dry works just as well.  Add ˝ teaspoon dry ground coriander seeds, ˝ teaspoon cumin seeds, ˝ teaspoon cayenne pepper (if you wish the chicken to be a tad spicy) and 1 teaspoon garam masala powder.  Combine all the above ingredients well until it appears as a beautifully creamy pinkish mixture.
  2. Using a sharp knife, or scissors, cut chicken into small bite-sized bits of chicken (These are what are called tikkas).  Add the chicken to the marinade, turn to coat well and refrigerate overnight. even for a few hours before preparing dish.
  1. Preheat the oven and make sure there is a rack positioned in the middle of it.  Transfer the marinated chicken from the bowl into a large, wide baking dish.  Glass works well as do non-stick baking pans.  Bake chicken for 30 minutes at 375 degrees on the middle rack.  During the baking process use a large spoon and turn the mixture once or twice about 13 minutes in. 
  1. After chicken has baked 30 minutes, using thick potholders, carefully drain the liquid which has been released into the sink and discard, leaving just the cooked chicken in the baking vessel.  Allow to sit while you prepare the roux for the Chicken Tikka Masala on the stove. (Note: The chicken can be stored and refrigerated at this point if you plan on serving this dish later.  It's best to finish the chicken right before serving .
  1. In a large heavy pot or deep skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil or butter. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of ginger and garlic, and sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon minced or ground garlic and 1 teaspoon ginger.  Add 1 teaspoon dry ground coriander seeds, ˝ teaspoon cumin seeds, ˝ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon powdered tikka powder and 1 teaspoon garam masala powder. Sauté for a further minute or two until the mixture turns into a paste-like texture and sauté till fragrant.  Add tomatoes and cook for two minutes till the sauce gets slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Simmer the tomato and spices mixture uncovered for approximately 10-15 minutes on low heat until the sauces begins to thicken.  Add the baked chicken pieces and 8 oz. of sour cream or heavy cream.  Simmer gently for a further 10 minutes, thickening the sauce further stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes longer. Stir in the chicken; simmer gently and to heat the chicken and cream through.
  1. Garnish with a handful of chopped fresh cilantro and serve with Basmati rice and warm fresh Naan.