You thought we broke up and I didn't tell you that we did. Yes, it's been a few months since I've posted a new recipe and frankly, this entire year has been sparse. Life has taken some fun turns this year and in turn, I was in the kitchen less. Well, I was still cooking but not making anything particularly new or Fairpine Lane Foods-worthy. I was going to my old standbys and not being particularly creative. I was also going out to eat a lot, especially to Rosemary's on Greenwich Ave in NYC. It's my favorite restaurant at the moment and I love it for many reasons. The food is excellent, they have a rooftop garden where they grow their own veggies and all glasses of wine are $10, bottles $40. Run, don't walk, to Rosemary's the next time you are in Manhattan. I digress. So back to cooking... if you know me well, you know that I have an aversion to Indian food. It stems mostly from the fact that I don't particularly like spicy food and have the misconception that everything is very spicy. But I am developing a higher threshold for spicy food and recently discovered that I really like Chicken Tikka Masala. From what I've learned, it's actually not a traditional Indian dish, but one that originated in England by Indian immigrants. It's like General Tso's Chicken, not authentic Chinese but likely one of the most popular dishes in a Chinese restaurant. I ask my neighborhood Indian joint, Chote Nawab, to make it very non-spicy and it's still pretty hot for my taste. But it's good and I like eating it.
Unfortunately I also discovered that it's made with a ton of butter and cream. Not the healthiest thing to eat, so I decided to create a healthier version by cutting out the butter and cream entirely. Using Greek yogurt for the creaminess as a really good substitution, I still had the richness from the dish that I enjoyed.
Here's how I made it and what you'll need.
1/2 pound of skinless organic, free-range chicken thighs (bones or boneless are both fine. You'll just need to remove the meat from the bones later). I prefer thigh meat over breast because it doesn't dry out and stays tender in the sauce.
1 cup of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt. I like Fage best. Chobani to me has a bit of a chalky after-taste.
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
chopped fresh cilantro
14 ounces of canned whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes (domestic plum tomatoes are fine if you can't find the ones from Italy)
1 tablespoon of garam masala ground spice
a dash of cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of paprika
salt and pepper
cooked brown rice
First, you'll need to marinate the chicken by washing the thighs and patting them dry. Then take half of the yogurt and cover the chicken, along with half of the garlic and the juice of half the lemon. Season with salt and pepper, cover and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
Remove from the fridge and turn on the broiler in your oven. Pat the excess yogurt off the chicken and broil on each side for about 6-9 minutes until cooked through. You can also grill the chicken if that's easier.
Now it's time for making the sauce. Using a large dutch oven, warm one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic and sautee until it's starts to turn golden brown, but not burnt. Puree the canned tomatoes until smooth and add them to the pot. Turn up the heat and add the spices. Bring to a boil and turn down to a low simmer for 10 minutes.
Once the chicken is cooked, shred the meat and add it to the sauce. Gently stir in the remaining Greek yogurt and combine. You want to be careful to not turn the heat too high, otherwise your sauce will break. The yogurt cannot withstand high heat and will break down. This will be ready in another 3-5 minutes.
Traditionally Chicken Tikka Masala is served with basmati rice but I used brown for the extra fiber. Finish with a sprinkling of fresh chopped cilantro. I find that this brings a nice freshness to the dish. This recipe should make about 3-4 servings, depending on yours and your guests' appetites. I hope you like it, let me know what you think!