Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

I know what you're thinking: really, an Indian food recipe on an Italy expat blog? For real? But, here's something that you don't really learn until you become an expat: finding good ethnic food can be a real challenge. You take for granted in the U.S. having great Mexican, Indian and Chinese food within driving distance.

Anyway, Rob and I are Indian food addicts. Our love affair with Indian food started in Louisville after our friends Scott and Stephanie had us try a local restaurant's takeout. The restaurant, Kashmir, is still the best Indian food I've ever had. Those folks were legit. When we moved to the Philly area we found a decent replacement, but it's been harder here. It costs a bit more to eat out and we can't always find our favorites on the menu.

Here's something else you don't really learn until you become an expat: Indian spices are wicked inexpensive here. We never attempted to make it back in the states because there was no way I was paying $20 for a small bottle of garam masala. But big packets of curry, garam masala, cumin, cordiander here? 2 euros per, max. It's a little ridiculous. Suffice to say we have a spice arsenal in our pantry.

Everyone makes their Indian food a little differently, so the challenge for us was finding a decent base recipe and slowly adapting it to our tastes. One of the best things about making Indian food at home is knowing exactly what goes into it, since I have trouble with cheese, cream, milk, etc. So, without further ado, here's our recipe:

Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients | Marinade + Chicken:
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon*
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
2-3 chicken breasts

Ingredients | Sauce/Gravy:
250g tomatoes
150-200g cream (we use 100% vegetable cream)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2tsp garam masala
1-2tsp chilli powder (depending how much spice we're in the mood for)
1/2tsp cumin
1tbsp butter

Directions:
First start with the chicken and marinade. Trim the chicken as needed and then chop into bite-sized pieces. Mix all of the spices together and then combine the spices and chicken in a bowl. Mix well. Some people like to add yogurt in to this mix (we used to), but we prefer the dry rub effect on the chicken this way. Cook the chicken until done.

Next, over medium heat, melt the butter and sautee the garlic. Right before it starts to brown add in spices and make a paste. Let cook for 30 seconds. Next, add in your can of tomatoes and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Then, add in the cooked chicken and cream. Taste your sauce as you add the cream. If you have an oops moment and discover that you made it too spicy, the cream is a great way to lessen the punch. Stir it all together and simmer for 10 more minutes.

Serve with rice, naan and any other deliciousness you whipped up (like our Channa Saag...recipe coming soon!)

Note: We don't actually have measuring spoons here. So, these are estimates based on what I think actually goes in. Spice wisely!

*The cinnamon here is truly more of a spice -- it doesn't have the sweet taste of the cinnamon you get back home. So, you may want to start with a little less.