"I love chicken tikka at restaurants and was craving it at home. I found this recipe in Cook's Illustrated magazine, and I've been making it ever since. I'm pretty careful about following the recipe for most of the spices because the quantities are so small and the flavors so potent, but I double the cayenne pepper. The extra heat really brings out the flavor of the dish better. Usually I make it on a weekend, in a big batch, and then eat it over the course of the week. Or it's great for a casual dinner party. People are all, 'Oooohhhh, Indian, how exotic!' Which is amazing, because Indian restaurants."
— Drew Armstrong, 32, business reporter, Brooklyn, NY
Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 4 to 6
Recipe slightly adapted from Cook's Illustrated
For the chicken tikka:
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. table salt
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3-4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger (or more if you like your chicken zingy)
For the masala sauce:
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
3-4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, minced (leave the seeds in for a spicier sauce)
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. garam masala (to make your own, combine 2 tsp. ground coriander, 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom, 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. table salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Basmati rice for serving
For the chicken:
1. Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.
For the sauce:
2. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, cayenne and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.
3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.
4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce; it may get overcooked). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve with cooked basmati rice.