Indian cuisine is always a welcome treat in our home. Being lovers of anything spicy, Indian is an easy sell. However, instead of ordering takeaway from the local Indian gem, I decided to find a recipe online for an original Chicken Tikka Masala and prepare the dish myself.
The recipe choice was fitting for the day as my dear friend Tara, an Indian/German woman (with an emphasis on the Indian😉) embarked upon a great journey. A born traveller, Tara has lived, studied, worked and created a family in many parts of the world. But after having passed the last few years in New York City, where we had met and formed our friendship, she and her family have decided to go to Germany where they will spend the next period of their lives.
I haven’t known Tara for a long time, but our connection is undeniable. She is like a sister I have never had; a person to whom I can go to for advice, a cry, a cup tea (or glass of wine😉), or for no reason at all. She is a woman of great intelligence, character and devotion, especially to her family. While we may have grown up in very different ways and environments, we still have many things in common, the most of which lies in our sense of adventure, wanderlust if you will; the need and desire to go, explore, discover.
Tara, in a sense, I am envious of this adventure you have most recently embarked upon. I left a piece of my heart in Europe when I left 2 years ago, and hope one day that destiny will bring me once again to the soil of the old world. In another sense, I am deeply saddened that you will no longer be there when I return to New York in the Fall. However, I am mostly grateful that we had the opportunity to meet, share stories, share dances and cultivate this treasured friendship.
So, with this dish, I honor you, Tara. May your adventure bring you to new destinations, of the mind and of the heart.
Chicken Tikka Masala
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast; cut into 1-inch strips
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 green chile peppers, minced
- 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 bunch cilantro for garnish
- Combine yogurt, 2 teaspoons garam masala, paprika, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon coriander in a large bowl. Add chicken strips and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet.
- Place chicken strips on the prepared baking sheet, leaving space between each piece, and bake in the preheated oven until browned and no longer pink inside, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir cumin seeds until lightly toasted and aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add onion; cook and stir until onion begins to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger, and green chiles and continue to cook until onion is browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Cook and stir tomatoes, tomato paste, and water into onion mixture until tomatoes begin to break down and incorporate into the onion mixture, about 10 minutes.
- Cook and stir 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, and turmeric into the tomato mixture. Mix in the cooked chicken, add cream, and stir to coat. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and garnish with cilantro.