Chicken tikka masala

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We’re in the depths of comfort-food time. I feel like I’ve been eating more comfort food than I have for a long time–you’ll see some more examples from my table soon enough. For everyone involved, I hope that they’ll be ready way before swimsuit season comes around.

One thing I’ve learned from all this comfort food I’m eating, though, is that it the recipes for it make a lot of servings. Maybe part of the comfort you get from them is peace of mind from not cooking for a few days? I don’t really consider not cooking comforting, and I think we’re in the same camp since you’re reading a food blog, but it can be really nice to come home and eat leftovers for a few nights.

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Since this recipe appears enormously long on my screen (like the number of servings it provides), I’m going to be brief today: Chicken tikka masala might not be what you automatically think of when you think of comfort food, but it definitely qualifies. Warm, satisfying and deliciously spiced with the creamy tomato sauce, chicken tikka masala can comfort me all through winter if it’d like to. Although there are several steps and it dirties more dishes my ideal recipe, it is the meal to pull out when you need a little more pep in your step, and it’s actually quite simple. Eating it makes me happy, and I hope it does the same for you.

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Chicken tikka masala with basmati rice pilaf
from America’s Test Kitchen’s All-Time Best Chicken Recipes
makes 8 generous servings of chicken tikka masala and 5 of the rice
five-stars

Notes: I live off of leftovers, so when I need more rice, I just make another batch. You could easily double it, just be sure to use a large pot.

Generally, you can find garam masala at an international supermarket. I went to the closest international supermarket four times, and they were always out. It was horrible. But I finally got a bag from an Indian market in my hometown. It’s big, and I don’t think I’ll run out for a while.

Plain whole-fat yogurt is delicious, so please buy that instead of low-fat. You can eat the leftover yogurt for breakfast with fruit and a little honey!

Be sure to grate all of the ginger (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons) and mince all of the garlic (4 cloves) first. It makes everything easier.

You can grill the chicken instead of broiling it.

 

Chicken:

1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain whole-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced

Sauce:

vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
kosher salt
⅔ cup heavy cream
a handful of chopped cilantro

 

For the chicken:

1. Combine the salt, cumin, coriander and cayenne in a small bowl.

2. Place chicken breasts on plate, and sprinkle them with the spice mixture, patting and rubbing it into the chicken. Be sure to flip the chicken over and sprinkle and pat the mixture on that side. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes to an hour.

3. Whisk together yogurt, oil, ginger and garlic in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

While the chicken is marinating, get started on the sauce:

4. Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a Dutch oven over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and cook, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add serrano chile, tomato paste, garam masala, garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

5. Add tomatoes, sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Stir in the cream and return to simmer. Cover the pot and remove it from the heat.

7. While the sauce simmers in step 5, adjust the top oven rack 6 inches from the broiler, and heat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil to make cleanup easy, and set a wire rack in the pan.

8. Dip the chicken in the yogurt mixture– you want a thick layer of yogurt–and then spread each piece out on the wire rack. Broil the chicken until it registers 160F with an instant-read or probe thermometer and the chicken is charred in spots, being sure to flip the breasts halfway through cooking.

9. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, and then cut into roughly 1-inch chunks. Stir the chicken into the sauce (that’s been pulled from the heat), mix in cilantro and season with a pinch of salt, to taste. Serve with basmati rice pilaf.

 

Basmati rice pilaf

1 ½ cups basmati rice, rinsed 8 to 10 times until the water runs clear (or however long you can last rinsing it)
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped

1. Bring 2 ¼ cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add salt and a pinch of pepper.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until it is softened, about 4 minutes. Add rice and stir until it soaks up the butter and liquid in the pan and the edges have turned translucent. Stir hot seasoned water into the rice.

3. Bring the water back to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, remove lid and place a dish towel over the pan. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

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