Chicken Tikka Masala

Whenever my husband needs a haircut, we head up to Rudy's in the U-District. Rudy's has locations all around Seattle, so why that location? Because across the street is Jewel of India, a family run Indian restaurant that has a small but fantastic buffet lunch. We have eaten it for years and just can't get enough. My favorite dish is the Indian Butter Chicken or Chicken Tikka Masala. I was craving just that recently, and since we rarely go out to eat with three small children, it was up to me to figure out how to make it. I came up with the recipe on the fly, combining elements from several I found online, and it is almost perfect. I made the quick and dirty version, meaning I only marinated for 3 hours instead of overnight, I used canned stewed tomatoes instead of fresh, I didn't strain it, and I didn't reduce the sauce because everybody was STARVING. I also sweetened it with organic blue agave nectar because my honey had crystallized. Serve over rice, with naan bread (frozen garlic naan from Trader Joe's is awesome). As always, enjoy!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Part 1:
2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into cubes or bite-sized chunks
1/4 cup plain yogurt
3 tsp minced ginger
3 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
3 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp vegetable oil
melted butter (for basting)

Part 2:
1 small can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp crushed garlic
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp chili powder
salt to taste
3 tbsp butter
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
honey to taste

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients in Part 1. Add chicken breast and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350F. Remove chicken from marinade and bake for 8 minutes, basting twice with melted butter. Drain excess marinade and bake until chicken is cooked through, about 5 more minutes. In a large pot, combine tomato paste, sauce and fresh tomatoes. Add about 4 cups of water. Add ginger, garlic, cinnamon, garam masala, chili powder and salt. Cook over medium-low heat until reduced and thickened. Strain out the chunks of tomatoes and spices and bring to a boil. Add butter and cream. Stir well and add honey to taste if it seems sour or too strong of a tomato flavor.

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