1.17.2011

greek yogurt is the new sour cream

I will never forget the first time I had tikka masala. My boyfriend and I use restaurant.com to find new places to eat at a great price. They do deals where for $2 you get a $25 gift card to a restaurant, all you have to spend is $35 at said restaurant and you're good to go. Heck yes I'll pay $12 for dinner for 2! One of these restaurants we decided to try was Navya Lounge. Talk about a unique restaurant, it's like they combined 3 restaurants into 1. This place was Indian, Thai, and Russian all segregated but served in one place. Yes there are 3 separate menus.

The highlight of dinner was the amazing pink colored cream sauce that came on the side with the tikka masala. Yes, I now know what it is but I didn't then... When the waiter came by to ask how everything was, I said I'm gonna need more of this stuff (pointing to the sauce). I couldn't eat enough naan that night. I was in heaven and forever changed. Who knew I liked Indian? I had never tried it and I was sure glad I did! Since then I've had many tikka masalas, but none as buttery and rich as that sauce.

I decided to try my hand at making my own tikka masala. After searching tons of sites, I decided to make a version of this recipe. After making it the first time, I definitely changed it up to my tastes. The second and third times I made it I worked on tweaking it until I had it just right. While this is not the buttery and rich version I had at Navya, it's my tasty and healthy version of it. Which brings me to the title of this post. Many tikka masala recipes call for heavy cream. I LOVE heavy cream but I wanted to try my hand at greek yogurt instead. I thought the tang of the yogurt would add nice flavors in addition to it's cool, creaminess. I was right! For my lac-tarded boyfriend, it's much easier to digest than heavy cream too, which was an added plus!

I've been using a lot of greek yogurt in my cooking lately. It has 0 fat, TONS of protein and it adds really great flavor to food. I find myself substituting heavy cream and sour cream and using greek yogurt in it's place. I am a big heavy cream, sour cream girl so greek yogurt is like a miracle food to me! Greek yogurt has all the things I love about my not so ass friendly foods without all the guilt! Try topping it on soups, in tacos, and in your mashed potatoes, YUM!

Back to the task at hand... I know the list of ingredients sounds incredibly intimidating, but never fear, your regular grocer caries them all! It's quite the investment to make it the first time but you'll be able to make this dish tons of times after and you'll be happy you bought all those spices! I buy a lot of my spices from here. If for some reason you can't find them at your local grocer, you can definitely find them on that site. They're super fresh and they usually throw in 3-4 free samples. Like 8 free vanilla beans with every order!

I was surprised how easy this recipe is to make. Aside from needing a ton of spices, it's really similar to making a big batch of spaghetti sauce. Plop a bunch of ingredients into a pot and let it simmer away! It's THAT simple! Indian isn't just for dining out anymore, you can easily make it at home, I promise!

Chicken Tikka Masala
adapted from allrecipes.com

ingredients:

yields 6-7 servings

for the Chicken marinade:
4-5 medium sized chicken breast
1 c. plain greek yogurt
3 garlic cloves
1 T. fresh ginger
1 ½ t. ground cumin
1 ½ t. ground corriander
¼ t. ground cardamom
¼ t. ground turmeric
¼ t. cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

for the sauce:
2 T. olive oil
1 large onion
2 large carrots
3 garlic cloves
¼ c. blanched almonds ground
1 t. fresh ginger
1 ½ T. garam masala (see above for store information)
1 ½ t. chili powder
½ t. cayenne (optional)
2 T. brown sugar
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
½ c. frozen peas
1 c. greek yogurt or heavy cream

Day before: the chicken needs to marinade overnight. In a large plastic bag or tupperware container, place the chicken breasts. In a separate bowl, chop the garlic and grate the ginger. Add the spices, and yogurt and pour the mixture over the chicken. Rub or stir the marinade so that the chicken is thoroughly covered. Let it sit overnight. The greek yogurt does something fantastic to the chicken. I've never had such JUICY and tender chicken breast until I marinaded it in the yogurt! The enzymes break down the proteins and get absorbed, trust me, it's fantastic!

Day of: preheat oven to 350º. In the food processor, blend almonds until a fine powder is formed, set aside. In a large deep skillet, sauté onion until just tender, add garlic and carrots and cook for an additional minute. Add both cans of tomatoes and stir. Next add the ginger, garam masala, chili powder, cayenne, ground almonds, and brown sugar. If you're not a big spicy person, LEAVE out the cayenne. As is, this dish turns out medium-spicy. If you can't handle the heat, leave it out! Simmer the sauce for 20-30 minutes. Just before serving, add yogurt (or cream) and frozen peas. Stir and in 1 minute you're all set! Meanwhile...

Cover baking sheet in aluminum foil (this will save you so much time in clean up). Pull out chicken and place on baking sheet. It's ok if some of the marinade is still on the chicken. You don't want them drowning in the sauce but a little is just fine. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes depending on how big/thick the breasts are. Flip them half way through for even baking. Once they're cooked through, pull them out and let them sit for 5 minutes. Then cut into bite sized chunks.

Serve with basmati rice, naan or if you're trying to be healthy like me, serve with brown rice and whole wheat naan.


improv style:
It's not traditional to put carrots and peas into tikka masala. Try adding your favorite veggies like potatoes or red peppers and mushrooms instead. You can leave them out if you're trying to be a purist. If you like it really spicy, add more cayenne. Vegetarian? Try browning up some tofu or paneer (an indian firm cheese with a tofu like consistency) instead.


2 comments:

  1. I am SO going to make this!! I love indian! That dish in my fav and I been looking for a recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  2. My mouth is watering. I want to try this soooo bad. I have been expanding my horizons at college, i will have to make this HAHAHA no way, the kitchen here sucks.

    ReplyDelete