Easy Chicken Tikka Masala

by hilla.kariv on June 10, 2014

Chicken Tikka MasalaI started thinking about this recipe last summer when my nephew Gal fell head over heals in love with Indian food.

While sitting on the grass at the neighborhood pool eating chicken tikka masala, rice and nan I decided I had to come up with a sane alternative to the creamy addictive goodness.

At the base of this recipe is homemade cashew milk. I tried it with lots of different spices, both as vegetarian and a meat dish. In the end there’s this, the most tested recipe I’ve ever published, so many of my friends tried it already, always to warm compliments and happy eaters.

The result is nothing less than wonderful – rich and creamy sauce (you won’t believe it doesn’t contain heavy cream!) that goes well with different spice combinations. After that, the sky’s the limit – tofu, chicken, vegetables – any combination works.

Now all that’s left is a name. At our local Indian place they call it tikka masala but in other places Corma. I’m not sure it would pass in India but I’ve compromised on calling it Gals’ tikka masala.

Making cashew milkChicken Tikka MasalaVegetables for tikka masala

Gal’s Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves 6

You can go simple with just curry powder instead of the spices.

For the vegetarian option any vegetables will do. The easiest way to cook them is directly in the sauce, keeping in mind that they will be a bit mashed at some point.
If you’re willing to work a little, you can steam them or sauté them in a little oil before hand, and then serve them with the sauce. Tofu does well when broiled in the oven before serving with the sauce, it retains a firmer texture.
You can serve it with some fresh cilantro on top.

¾ cup raw cashews
2 cups boiling water
+ 2 cups water

1 large onion – finely chopped
1 inch / 3 cm fresh ginger – finely chopped
5 garlic cloves – finely chopped
a little oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 heaping Tablespoon tomato paste

Mix the spices:
1 ½ teaspoons each: paprika, coriander
1 teaspoon each: turmeric, cumin, sugar
¼ teaspoon each: cinnamon, cardamom, dried chili to taste

2 pounds / 1 kg chicken breast (or even better- tenders) – cubed
juice from half a lemon (in vegetarian version add the lemon to the sauce)

Soak the cashews in the boiling water for half an hour, or even all night. Transfer the cashew and soaking water to the blender and blend until you get a completely smooth milk. Let the blender run 1 to 2 minutes or as long as necessary.

Meanwhile mix the chicken with half the spices and the lemon juice. The spices will add flavor and the lemon will help to keep the chicken moist.

In a pot, with a little oil and salt, gently sauté the onion, ginger and garlic. When soft and fragrant add the tomato paste and spices (1/2 of the amount if you’re making a chicken dish) and cook for one minute.

Add the cashew milk to the pot + 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and continue cooking until it starts to thicken. (Vegetarian version will add the lemon now).

You can leave it like this, but I prefer blending it now (hand blender is great here) to get it completely smooth.

When the sauce has thickened add the spiced chicken cubes and cook for 20 minutes. Serve with rice.

getting ready to eat

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Francesca June 19, 2014 at 5:40 am

Ohh I love the idea of using cashew milk – vegan creamy goodness!

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Michelle June 28, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Hilla, thank you for the translation. : ) I tried the recipe with almond milk to adjust for my allergic- to – cashews daughter. It wasn’t creamy enough; I think my Indian friend’s analysis was correct that cashews are more creamy than almonds. Next time I’ll try sour cream or buttermilk. However, the spice mixture was excellent!

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