Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chicken Tikka Masala

I seem to be on an Indian kick lately... this particular recipe was selected because, last time I went to Zigo for lunch, their trusty chicken tikka--one of my all-time favorite things to eat--was... horrible. The chicken was overcooked, half the rice was mushy and half crunchy, and the sauce lacked zing. What's worse, I was eating in a rush between meetings and didn't have time in which I might go back and complain. As I resentfully finished my "meal," I grumbled to myself that I could do better. Well, I had this past Monday off, and damned if I wasn't going to use some of my free time to cook a meal that would erase the memory of that terrible tikka.

Much of Monday morning was occupied by my continued hunt for a decent grocery store in the Worcester area. I have finally grown sick to death of the Webster Square Shaws--on Saturday I went in there to pick up game snacks, and every vegetable in the place looked like it had been there for days. Even the squashes were wrinkly. (Squash is the easiest thing on the planet to store, people; I can keep it on my counter for a week or more just dandy. What the heck are you doing to it?!) So I went up to the Shrewsbury Stop N Shop to see if it was any better, and it was! Not swoonworthy like the Wegmans my lucky mother has, but a big improvement on what I've been seeing by my place lately. On the way I passed an Indian grocery, which I will have to check out another time. I have never wanted to be one of those people who goes to four different stores in the course of their normal shopping--I spend too much time in the car during the week to enjoy running around in it on my days off--but apparently the alternative is making my family endure my grousing about our produce every week until summer and the farmer's markets return.

But anyway. After my shopping trip, I went to Borders (it was right there...) and used some of my Christmas money to pick up Martha Stewart's Cookies (because I don't have enough cookbooks, or enough about cookies... right). Then it was home for lunch and then out in the back yard to play in the snow with L, then back in for hot chocolate, and eventually a movie. Around four I put the marinade together and glooped the chicken into it.

Here is the recipe I used: Chicken Tikka Masala. And it was in fact considerably better than the disastrous one I had last "enjoyed," though I again seem to have overcooked the breast meat a bit--that's becoming a bad habit. All the cumin gave it a wonderful smoky heat without being overwhelming, and I liked the paprika. My changes to the recipe were as follows:
  • I didn't add any salt. I'm not by any means a salt-free sort of person, but a total of seven teaspoons? Ick! Between the spices and canned ingredients, I figured there would be enough flavor to go around. Next time I will add a bit, but certainly less than they suggest.
  • Again, I had no jalopeno, or other hot peppers for that matter. I don't know why I keep forgetting those little suckers. Again, I put some extra ginger in.
  • I didn't have any tomato sauce, either. I used a can of Muir Glen diced tomatoes, which I nearly always have on hand. I think they represented something of an improvement.
  • My cream was way past its prime, so I used about 2/3 of a can of non-light coconut milk.
I also made Saffron Rice with Peas and Garbanzo Beans--an old stand-by and one of the few ways in which I can be convinced to consume peas. The recipe as written makes a ton, but I figured I can take some to work this week. (I go through phases where I am so sick of sandwiches that I can scarcely stand it, but I seldom have the planning capacity to prepare anything else for lunches on office days.)

I'm trying to work on my photography. Here, for kicks, some of my prep work:

The meal was very satisfying, though my daughter refused to countenance any of it and requested toast for dinner--she has been known to eat chickpeas on occasion, but apparently this was not one of those days. And JJ is still battling tummy bug; it hasn't knocked him for quite the same loop it did his sister, but he hasn't been sleeping well, so neither are his parents.

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