This has to be one of my all time favorite Indian food recipes! Well, I guess that is has been debated on whether or not this dish originated in India or Britain. Either way, it is delicious! In Indian restaurants, the chicken is baked in a tandoor, a clay oven, but you can create the smokey taste by using your own grill. Since I do not have a grill at home, I tend to use the oven. In this recipe I will give you directions on how to do both.
Typically I make this recipe a day before I plan on serving it, to allow all of the delicious spices mix. This may look like a tedious process, but it is actually quite relaxing. Put the kids to bed, pop in a movie or put on some music, and keep your favorite drink at your side :-)
You will also want to serve this over plain cooked rice, or may I suggest the Rajasthani Pilau...
3 whole (to 4) chicken breasts
1/2 cup Plain Yogurt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon chili powder (if you like it hot...add one more)
2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Tomato Gravy :
2 tablespoons ghee or Butter (I highly recommend using the ghee...the flavor is irresistible!)
1 whole large onion
2 Thai chiles (slit lengthwise. If you cannot find thai, you can use serranos, but Thai are preferred)
4 cloves Garlic
2 in. chunk fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika powder
3 tablespoons garam masala
1 can (28 Ounce) Diced Tomatoes (or to use fresh tomatoes see instructions below*)
1 tablespoon sugar or sugar substitute
1-1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 cup of chopped cilantro
Cube the chicken breasts into large bite size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, cumin, cinnamon, chili powder, pepper, and salt and mix until each piece of chicken is evenly coated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight. Stir the mixture again prior to baking.
If cooking on a grill - prepare your charcoal grill or set your electric grill function to high. Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers. Grill the chicken evenly on all sides, until juices run clear – about 5-6 minutes.
If cooking with an oven - Set your oven rack about 10-12 inches below your broiler and set your oven to broil (or 500 degrees). Place your chicken pieces on a metal cooling rack over a foil covered baking sheet and if you like, you can spoon the additional marinade over the chicken. Broil for about 6-7 minutes on each side until the chicken has slightly blackened edges.
And now for the tomato gravy!
*If you are using fresh tomatoes, which I also recommend, follow these instructions. you want to make sure that you have 2 1/2 cups of fresh diced tomatoes and 1 cup of the juice that you get from the tomatoes. This may take anywhere from 3-5 tomatoes depending on the size. I used about 4 homegrown heirloom tomatoes. Make sure that you have a medium sized bowl next to your cutting board. Divide your tomatoes into fourths and core over the bowl, saving all of the juices. Dice the tomatoes, strain the liquid from the bowl, and combine.
Whew!!! You are almost done...trust me the effort will be worth it.
Heat up a large skillet on medium-high heat and add the 2 tablespoons of ghee. Saute the onions and Thai chiles until slightly brown. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, and garam masala. Stir and cook for about 30-40 seconds until you can smell the spices. Now add the tomatoes and scrape the bottom of your skillet to deglaze it. Add the sugar and let it simmer for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the heavy cream and stir until it is mixed thoroughly. Stir in the chicken and cilantro. If you wanted to add the peas, mix them in as well. Serve over rice.