I married a man who doesn’t like flavorful food.
That’s maybe a little harsh. He doesn’t like what he calls “ethnic food.” What he’s referring to is any food that has specific/bold flavors. No Chinese, no Thai, no Indian. He likes American fare: burgers, meatloaf, potatoes and chips and cheese. Basic tacos or enchiladas on flour tortillas and some stereotypical German foods make up the cultural boundaries of his palate. He doesn’t even like wine.
The woman behind the checkout counter at the grocery store last night couldn’t imagine. She had identified the spice blend in the little self-serve baggie on sight- “Is this garam masala? I can tell just by looking at it, I cook with it that much!” I told her it was for this chicken tikka masala that I was making this weekend, as my husband didn’t like it but he was gone. “You married somebody who doesn’t like chicken tikka masala?!” she asked incredulously. I sighed.
I spent the last week in D.C., and without making a conscious effort, I ate things he wouldn’t have almost every night. Lamb boti kabob and kachumbar, clam pizza, authentic Mexican, spicy kim chi, oysters on the half shell. I drank way too much wine.
And as I waited in the airport on Friday afternoon, I had a serious hankering for butter chicken. My blog feed included this chicken tikka masala recipe though, and despite it’s long list of ingredients and long marinating time, I decided that fate wanted me to tackle it on Saturday. I didn’t go with the typical rice as a side; instead I had a small but flavorful mound of fresh fava beans, and I also experimented (barely) with gluten-free naan— and much to my surprise, it worked just fine. My old stand-by naan recipe is AP flour + plain yogurt + a bit of salt and baking powder in a hot cast iron skillet, so I subbed in Trader Joe’s gluten-free all purpose flour. While it probably won’t win any awards for World’s Best Naan, it was hot and chewy and good for soaking up the rich sauce.
This isn’t a particularly spicy chicken tikka masala. If you like more heat, add additional pepper flakes, or use dried chiles de arbol instead. I also realize the addition of raisins is out of the ordinary, but I love the extra sweetness and chew.
6 garlic cloves, finely grated
3-4 inches of finely grated peeled ginger, about 4 teaspoons
4 teaspoons ground turmeric
4 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons ghee
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
6 cardamom pods, opened up and seeds crushed, or approximately 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup raisins
Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk together yogurt, salt, and half of spice mixture in a medium container with a lid; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4-6 hours. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.
An hour before you plan to eat, melt the ghee 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, about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot. Then add cream, water, raisins, and chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.
While the sauce simmers, preheat your grill or broiler. If using the broiler, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet. Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer. Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots (it may not be cooked through), about 10 minutes. Flip and broil on the other side for 5 minutes. If using a grill, preheat to medium high, between 400 and 500 degrees and grill for 6-8 minutes on each side, until it begins to blacken. Again, it may not be cooked through, but that’s okay. (I used the broiler method.)
Allow the chicken to cool for a few minutes. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces, add to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Serve with rice and sprinkle with cilantro (both are optional).
Adapted from Food.com
2 cups Trader Joe’s Gluten-free all purpose flour blend, or your favorite gluten-free flour blend
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)
Coconut oil for frying
Whisk together flour blend, salt, and baking powder. Stir in yogurt, and then use hands to kneed together a bit. The dough will be sticky and even paste-like, but don’t fret yet. Heat 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high. Preheat the pan for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, split the dough into 8 equal pieces, and then roll or press each piece out between saran wrap. Fry each piece for 3-4 minutes on each side. Add additional coconut oil to the fan as frying. Set each piece on a towel or paper towel to rest, and serve warm.