Chicken and gravy, tandoori style

With the heat finally breaking, but with plenty of summer spice still in the air, it seems like the perfect time to reprint this recipe from last October that mixes some zest into warm winter food.—ed.

Chicken Tikka Masala would win by a landslide, if Himalayan Fusion’s diners were asked to register their vote. So says owner Rekha Mukhia, who reports that Chicken Tikka Masala is the most popular dish on her restaurant’s menu. It is the rich, creamy tomato sauce in particular that Mukhia’s diners enjoy. But half the enjoyment lies in the actual making of this traditional Indian dish, mixing in the many spices and cooking the chicken over a hot charcoal fire (if you have access). Mukhia says preparing the chicken over an open fire helps to bring out a kind of flavor that you won’t find in other dishes. If only voting for a senatorial candidate were this appetizing.

Himalayan Fusion is a great place to go, but half the fun of the traditional Indian dish, Chicken Tikkia Masala, is in the making of it yourself.

Himalayan Fusion’s Chicken Tikka Masala

Prepare the sauce first.

2 ripe tomatoes
1/2 onion
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/4 tsp. tumeric powder
1/2" piece ginger (ground)
3 cloves garlic (ground)
1 Tbs. oil
1/2" cinnamon stick
1 green cardamom
1 black cardamom (optional) salt

Blend the onion and tomatoes into a paste and set aside. Then, heat the oil in a pan until smoking. Put in the cinnamon stick along with the cardamom and stir in the ginger and garlic until brown. Stir in the cumin, coriander, tumeric and salt. Stir for two minutes until all the spices are well blended. Pour in the onion and tomato paste and stir. Pour in two cups of water and stir. Boil for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Next, prepare the chicken.

1 lb. chicken breast cut into 2" cubes
1" piece ginger (ground)
2 cloves garlic (ground)
3 Tbs. lemon juice
black pepper
2 oz. plain yogurt

Mix the ingredients and pour on the chicken. Marinate for a couple of hours in the fridge. Drain and cook the chicken either on a barbecue grill or in an oven until well done. Add the cooked chicken to the sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Serve with warm white rice.

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