Chicken tikka masala—grilled boneless chicken in a spiced, creamy tomato sauce—is the quintessential Anglo-Indian comfort dish (read about the speculation swirling around its origins, and its similarity to the dish known as butter chicken, here). For our version we reached out to Indian-American chef Preeti Mistry of Juhu Beach Club, a modern Indian restaurant in Oakland, California—Preeti is one of our Kitchen Coaches. At her restaurant, chicken tikka masala is on the kids’ menu, a testament to how approachable and easy to love this dish is, two factors that also make it a great threshold recipe for Indian-cooking novices.
What to buy: For marinating the chicken, Preeti uses extra-tangy Greek yogurt from Straus Family Creamery. If using another brand, up the acidity by adding a teaspoon of lemon juice to the yogurt in the marinade.
You can use a commercial garam masala spice blend for this recipe, but Preeti strongly suggests making your own, using black cardamom pods (these are smoked over charcoal, so they have an earthy, smoky flavor—if using a garam masala blend, up the smoke and spice by adding 1/2 teaspoon each smoked paprika and cayenne pepper). Check out other spice-buying tips from Preeti.
For the sauce: