Chicken Tikka Masala

This is a bright orange colored dish that can be served as Chicken Tikka (chicken chunks without the sauce ideal for bbq) or Chicken Tikka Masala (chicken chunks mixed into a tomato-cream sauce ideal compliment to steamed rice).
This dish is super popular in London and is served in almost every Indian restaurant in the UK. It has a delicious taste and is simple to make. Wikipedia says that there are 44 different versions/recipes to make this dish. Well, here is  an easy stovetop version from me. Enjoy!

1/4  cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 tablespoon tandoori masala powder (Best purchased from farmers market or indian store. If you don't have it, create a mix of 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp cayenne/paprika, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp coriander powder. This is a close substitute)
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (use chicken breast if you prefer), cut into halves or smaller pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon Indian chili powder
1 cup tomato sauce (1 can of tomato paste mixed well in water to create a sauce)
1/2 cup half and half (or 1/2 cup cream or 2 table spoons cream cheese. I didn't have half and half so I used 1/4 cup 2% milk and 1 tablespoon cream cheese. This ingredients calms the spices and makes the tomato paste more opaque so use it per your judgement/taste)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt

1) Stir the yogurt and tandoori masala powder together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined; add the chicken and toss to coat evenly. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour. Drain and discard any excess marinade
2) Puree the onion, ginger, and garlic with the water in a blender until it forms a smooth paste; set aside
3) Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet (or dutch oven) over medium heat. Cook the chicken in the hot oil until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 - 6 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside. This is your basic chicken tikka without the masala. An alternate popular version is served grilled.
4) To make the sauce, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons in the skillet/dutch oven. Fry the onion paste in the hot oil until the moisture is mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle the garam masala and chili powder over the mixture; cook 1 minute more.  Add the tomato sauce, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook another 5 minutes. 
5) Return the chicken to the pan along with the half and half; bring to a boil. Add the butter and salt; reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until the chicken pieces are no longer pink in the middle, 15 to 20 minutes.
6) Garnish with cilantro, lemon wedge. Serve with Naan or Steamed rice


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