A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

Continuing on my Indian food and memory kick, I made Bill's favorite Indian meal: Chicken Tikka Masala.  It is debated whether this is a true Indian dish.  If it is, it was invented within the last 50 years.  Some people believe (strongly) that it was invented in London or Glasgow.  A survey conducted in the U.K. concluded that chicken tikka masala is the country's most popular restaurant dish.  Whether it is authentic or not, it is a delicious marriage of fragrant Indian spices and tomatoes (still have some canned from last summer?) in a creamy sauce.    
A quick google search for recipes resulted in over 51,000 results -- some that use coconut milk, some cream, some orange food coloring.  I was glad to have snagged a library copy of Molly O'Neill's new cookbook, One Big Table: 600 Recipes from the Nation's Best Home Cooks, Farmers, Fishermen, Pit-Masters, and Chefs.  Her 864 page book is chock full of stories of people all over the United States and the food they cook.  It includes Nina Chanpreet Singh, from Bronx, New York's Chicken Tikka recipe. (Don't worry -- no orange food coloring here!).  
mixing the spices into the cream for the marinade

I had to track down a few ingredients for this recipe -- namely the amchur powder, which is made from dried, ground green mangos, and garam masala, which is actually a mix of numerous spices, that you could make yourself if you felt inspired.  A number of my cooking-prone friends love Indian food but just don't cook it themselves.  The spices intimidate them.  Understandably -- spices like amchur powder, fenugreek and asafoedida are not everyday culinary ingredients.    I'm lucky -- there are numerous Indian markets near my home, and the spices were easy to find and inexpensive.  If there is an Indian grocery store near you, or even slightly out of the way, I recommend going.  In addition to the spices,  there are so many great items you just don't see in other places.  I couldn't resist a jar of lime pickle, ghee (which you can also make yourself) and a package of papadam, which are incredible tasty, flat cracker-like treats made out of lentil flour and spices.  Note: if there is no Indian grocer near you, I've actually found a lot of the spices I need at well-stocked natural food stores or online at reasonable prices.
papadam crackles to life in a dry skillet over a flame
package of papadam

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