Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Week of Coconut: Chicken Tikka Masala

My second coconut meal this week was a lovely chicken dish that I had been meaning to try for quite a while. It was very simple and relatively fast, other than the fact that there was a period of marinating for the chicken. The technique basically involves mixing together a spice blend and letting chicken cubes hang out in it for 2 hours up to 24 hours. After it's been properly married in the fridge, you saute some onion and red jalapeno on the stove and simmer these veggies in coconut milk briefly. While the veggies cook, broil the chicken quickly, add it to the pot of veggies and coconut milk, and allow all the flavors to come together over a low heat.

I couldn't believe how much bang for the buck you get with this meal. It packs so much flavor, for such little effort! The spice blend was extremely aromatic and flavorful, and the red jalapeno adds a decent amount of heat. The coconut milk adds a different dimension of rich, creamy smoothness. It's almost sweet, but because it is paired with so many savory elements, it takes on those new flavors and provides a yummy sauce that is perfectly soaked up by the rice you set it all on top of. This was our first time using coconut milk in a dish, but it certainly will not be the last. We loved it in this dish, and I'm already thinking up new ways to incorporate it into things. One thing: this recipe's instructions originally said not to use light coconut milk, but I decided not to heed the warning. I went ahead with the light coconut milk and I thought it was perfectly fine the way it was. I didn't miss the extra fat. The original recipe is here. I am posting my rendition, simply because I did a couple things differently.

Cheeky Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from Recipezaar
Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. dried cilantro
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 red jalapeno chile, finely chopped
1 14 oz. can light coconut milk
1 lemon, cut into wedges

1. Combine ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt, pepper, cilantro, lime juice, and 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a ziplock bag. Add chicken cubes, shake bag to coat thoroughly, and place in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.
2. Preheat broiler. Place chicken on a baking sheet, and broil for about 8-10 minutes, turning once halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining ½ Tbsp. olive oil in a deep skillet or pot over medium heat. Add onion and jalapeno, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
4. Turn heat down to low and cook for another 2-5 minutes. Add in the reserved chicken, stir to combine, and simmer another 5 minutes or so, until chicken is cooked through.
5. Serve chicken mixture over rice (we used brown basmati rice) with lemon wedges on the side. Enjoy!


  1. I have the chicken and spices marinading for tonight's meal! I am curious about the dried cilantro as I had never seen that before. I love that flavor but the fresh herb comes in such large bunches that I end up throwing away most of it. I had to go to the grocery store since many of these ingredients were not in my pantry. Finding the anchovy paste was quite an adventure!! I had three employees helping search me for it - not in with spices, not with gourmet or international, not with condiments - THERE is was with the sardines!!

  2. OOPs the anchovy paste was actually for the Puttanesca, which is *tomorrow's* dinner!