If there’s an ethnic cuisine that intimidates me, it would easily be Indian. The comprehensive list of various spices in many Indian recipes I’ve seen prevents me from even attempting to tackle it in the kitchen. But then I came across the following recipe in a Cook’s Illustrated magazine I had stashed away. Looking at the recipe, I was surprised to see how approachable it is… even moreso when I had all the ingredients on hand.
I made a few minor substitutions and adjustments and the final dish rivaled the versions I’ve tried at local restaurants. Even my husband agreed and I have no excuse to make more Indian inspired dishes at home. The chicken is extremely flavorful and so moist/juicy, thanks to the yogurt it marinates in. The masala sauce is a beautifully rich sauce that is spiced perfectly without being too spicy but with a hint of sweetness. I served this dish over garlic fried rice which complimented the chicken tikka masala perfectly.
Note: I prepped this recipe in advance so it would be easy to complete and serve on a weeknight after a long day at work. The directions below reflect that and I believe the end result is much better preparing it as written below so the flavors to really shine. Additionally, no pressure cooking is needed for this recipe – the marinade does all the work to tenderize the chicken!
Chicken Tikka Masala
recipe adapted from Entertaining: Cook’s Illustrated Spring 2009
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons table salt
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat & cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 medium garlic cloves , minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 – 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , diced fine
2 medium garlic cloves , minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
For the chicken, combine cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken in a baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger. After the seasoned chicken has ‘marinated’ for 30-60 minutes in the fridge, pour the yogurt mixture over the chicken and toss to fully coat both sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight.
In your Instant Pot the following day:
Plug in the IP with insert set in place.
Press SAUTE on the IP and heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add garlic, ginger, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Add marinated chicken and sauté until opaque, about 3-5 minutes.
Add crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar, and salt.
Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 5 minutes on HIGH pressure.
Once at pressure, the display will reflect 5 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.
Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen). The IP will automatically default to the WARM mode.
TO PREPARE AS A FREEZER MEAL:
To prepare this as a freezer meal, make the sauce, cool and freeze. Prepare the chicken, cool and freeze. When you’re ready to serve it, defrost both sauce and chicken; heat sauce and warm chicken in oven, then combine… or if you want, add the chicken to the sauce and warm up together (although I think it tastes better when warmed separately then served together.)