March 12, 2013

Phoebe’s Chicken Tikka Masala

Phoebe's Chicken Tikka Masala

Today I am thrilled to have my friend Phoebe of Feed Me Phoebe sharing her awesome recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala. This is not the first time Phoebe has been hanging around Naptime Chef. You may remember that last year she made her television debut on Chef Race UK vs US, and has also shared her fabulous recipe for homemade granola bars for lunchboxes. Today’s recipe would be ideal for a weeknight family dinner. It is also a great recipe for people new to cooking Indian cuisine!

Though I don’t yet have kids of my own, through my private chef business, I’ve spent the last 6 months learning how to navigate the evolving palates of a 7 and 10-year old.

One of my weekly clients is perpetually letting her kids dictate what I make every Tuesday. And what they want isn’t Mac and Cheese or Chicken Pot Pie, it’s Pad Thai and Chicken Tikka Masala. There are times when I feel like I’m providing the most expensive takeout in the world, even if I’m using organic meat and far less oil than the local Thai joint.

Now, these are New York City kids, mind you. But I was still surprised by their enthusiasm for complex spices. My conclusion is this: if you’re going to introduce anyone to new flavors, you might as well do so within the context of a creamy tomato-based stew containing knobs of white meat chicken, and plenty of carrots and onions hidden within.

If you’re venturing down the road of take-out-at-home it’s my feeling that you can have some wiggle room with flavor authenticity if it means putting something inherently healthier in your body. I always wondered why my stomach hurt so much after Indian food. I thought it might be the spices – but I’ve never had a problem with heat. It wasn’t until I started researching Chicken Tikka Masala recipes that I realized, duh, it’s the cream!

Phoebe's Chicken Tikka Masala

Needless to say, my version of this recipe uses much less cream than the one you’re used to eating at your local curry joint. I add in some of the reserved yogurt-based marinade to give the sauce that light, smooth body, and then add just a splash of cream to finish it off. If you’re not into dairy at all, you can keep adding yogurt until the sauce reaches that creamy, light red color that you love.

The number of ingredients and steps in this dish may not make it seem instinctively easy, but I promise you, it is. Everything can be made in advance, and it’s a fairly simple one-pot dish, other than the broiling of the chicken. It’s not as easy as picking up the phone to order take-out, of course. But your stomach will see the reward in DIY-ing this one. And if your kids are anything like my pseudo ones, they’ll love the homespun version even more because it was made by you.


Chicken Tikka Masala

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