Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Chicken Tikka Masala

I was introduced to Indian cooking by one of my fabulous room mothers.  Binita would come to our classrooms every day with some sort of treat she had just baked or created.  My teaching partners and I were so spoiled!!  (And since one of my partners was a REAL fussy eater, I ate like a queen all week!!)  Binita's dishes were fiery, tongue-flaming hot and her desserts were just sublime.  It's been fun learning more about Indian cooking since I retired.

                   Chicken Tikka Masala (slow cooker version)

Serves 4 to 6
1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons garam masala
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup coconut milk
Fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups cooked rice, to serve
Marinate the chicken in 1 c yogurt for several hours before you start, if you can. (Shake off the extra yogurt before you put the chicken in the slow cooker.)
Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces place in a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Sauté the onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet until softened, then stir in the ginger, tomato paste, and spices.  Add all of this mixture to the slow ooker and stir until the chicken is coated. Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices.
Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the coconut milk. If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave the slow cooker uncovered for the last 15 minutes. Taste and add more garam masala or salt to taste.
Serve over rice with fresh cilantro sprinkled over the top of each serving. 
Serve this with peas with a pinch of oregano or sauteed spinach with a little lemon zest.

I like to add some crushed pepper to spice it up.  If you need a cooling drink to help tone down the heat, make a Punjabi-style lassi:  Blend together 1 c yogurt with 1 c water, 5 ice cubes, a pinch of salt and 1-2 tsp sugar in the blender.  You can also add a pinch of cardamon to deepen the flavor.  Sour cream or milk products tone down heat from fiery food.

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