Chicken Tikka Masala

This Indian classic is very easy to make. This is not the easy version, but instead the amazing Matt-went-home-two-hours-early-to-cook-the-feast gourmet version, heavily adapted from numerous sources.

3 lbs boneless chicken breasts
1 lemon, cut in half
1/4 cup ghee, melted
4 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
2 tbsp ground paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2-1 tsp ground chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup plain yogurt
4 drops red food coloring
2 drops yellow food coloring
2-3 small (or one large and seeded) chili peppers, chopped fine
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 400F (will be using top rack). Place cleaned chicken in large glass bowl  and  stab repeatedly with pairing knife. Rub in 1/2 lemon and 1/2 tsp salt. Add in 1/2 of the chopped garlic, 1/2 of the cumin, 1 tbsp paprika,  and all of: ginger, yogurt, food coloring, cinnamon, coriander, chili powder, cloves. Mix with your hands until everything is evenly coated up to your elbows. If prepping ahead, this mix can go into the fridge for up to a week just fine.

Put chicken on cookie cooling rack over a solid, rimmed cookie sheet (dripping on the bottom of the oven are not fun). Some people claim a roasting pan works too. *shrug* With turkey baster, or a spoon if you’re boring, splurt 1/2 of the ghee over the top of  the chicken mess. Bake for 45 minutes. Broil for 10-20 minutes until top coating visibly blackening in spots (not burning!!). While broiling, make the sauce (next paragraph).

In large cast iron skillet, add remaining ghee over high heat until drops of water cause sizzling. Add remaining garlic and chili pepper, sauteing for 30 seconds or so. CAREFULLY add cream, diced tomatoes (with liquid) – ghee will be hot and addition of liquid may causing flashing!! Stir in remaining spices except cilantro (a few grinds of salt and pepper, too). Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered, stirring regularly,  for about 10  minutes or until sauce visibly thicker.

After chicken is done, remove and allow to cool for a couple minutes. Cut into small chunks and add to sauce.  Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking about 5 minutes.

Serve with rice and bread, sprinkling cilantro and a lemon wedge around plate edges for garnish and extra seasoning.

Serves 4. Prep time about 1 hour (serial). Cook time 70-85 minutes.

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