Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chicken Tikka Masala

The sauce in this recipe was one of those lick-the-plate kinds for me. It was the perfect blend of rich tomato flavor, spice, and creaminess. Though there is a small amount of prep work involved, the sauce and nut cream can be made a day ahead, so the next day you can have a meal ready in 30 min! (My favorite kind of meal!)

Some notes about the ingredients I used:
I made this recipe with 8 chicken breast tenderloins, which I thought seemed equivalent to 4 chicken breasts at the time, but I ended up with much more sauce than was appropriate for the amount of chicken. Hence, the potatoes. So as you'll see below, I put what was originally listed along with what I did. I had so much sauce that I needed to spread it out by mixing in something else, so I boiled some diced potatoes until they were just tender and mixed those in. (You want the potatoes just soft enough for fork to easily puncture; you don't want them to be super soft, because then they turn to mush when you mix them in). Anyways, potatoes are beside the point of this post. (If you're really interested, if you ask me, I will be happy to explain the potato bit more). Onto the deliciousness of the masala sauce!

I tagged this as vegetarian and vegan because this could easily be adapted, taking out the chicken and replacing it with vegetables, legumes, seitan, tempeh, or whatever meatless protein or starch you prefer. I am not too familiar with tofu products and seitan, but I'm sure you can find something on the web where it explains how to sauté or otherwise prepare these to be incorporated into a recipe. 

Makes 4 servings


  • 8 chicken breast tenderloins, cubed  [original: 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed*]
  • 2 medium potatoes [original did not call for this]
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

[*If you go with the 4 chicken breasts, don't bother with the potatoes]

Masala sauce:
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) tomato paste
  • 2 hot cherry chili peppers, deseeded, chopped (2-3 tbsp, or to taste) (these are technically 'medium' hotness, as a reference for substitutions)
  • 3 garlic cloves (1 tbsp minced)
  • 2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled, grated
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala (spice blend)
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1-1/2 tbsp Earth Balance (vegan, non-dairy margarine)
  • 2 tsp dried cilantro OR 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
Additional/optional garnishes:
  • chopped roasted cashews
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Puree masala sauce ingredients, from tomato paste to the olive oil into a food processor. Process until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan (preferably one with a thick bottom for more even cooking) on the stove, medium heat. Cook chicken, stirring to turn over pieces occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until outside is lightly browned.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high, and mix in the masala sauce. Bring to a low bubble, then reduce heat to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. If sauce gets too dry, add a little water. Stir often to avoid burning the sauce on the bottom. 
  4. When chicken has cooked through, mix in the cashew cream, and cook through on low for several more minutes. 
  5. Serve hot with rice or vegetables. Optional: Sprinkle with chopped cashews and/or cilantro.

I have only skimmed the cookbook that has the original recipe, but I bought it as an ebook and even though it's a small book, it's full of recipes that actually seem doable, not full of complicated ingredients, techniques, etc. as some special dietary (gluten-free) cooking sometimes appears. And they all look delicious, of course, too!

Cheetham, G. (2011). Simply gluten-free & dairy-free: Breakfasts, lunches, treats, dinners, desserts. London, U.K: Duncan Baird Publishers.

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