Here, the sauce can be done 1 day ahead. All of the ingredients -- including garlic and ginger pastes, dried fenugreek leaves, ground and whole spices for garam masala -- can be found in the international aisle of large supermarkets. To make this vegetarian, substitute large cubes of panir cheese for the chicken. Serve with naan (Indian flatbread) and basmati or jasmine rice.
Servings: 6 - 8
- For the chicken and marinade
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus additional to taste
- 1 3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (may substitute chicken breasts, cut in thigh-size pieces)
- 1 cup plain yogurt (not nonfat)
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for basting
- For the sauce
- 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon combination of whole cloves, 1/4 of a crumbled cinnamon stick, whole black pepper, cardamom seeds (whole garam masala blend)
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon seeded and chopped mild chili peppers (optional)
- 1 3/4 cups tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (powdered)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (also known as kasturi methi)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
For the chicken and marinade: Combine 1 teaspoon of the chili powder, 1 tablespoon of the lime juice and the salt, blending to make a paste. Make shallow cuts in the chicken and rub the paste into the meat. Place the chicken in a resealable plastic food storage bag and let it rest, refrigerated, for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a colander with cheesecloth and place the yogurt on it to drain for 15 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of chili powder, salt to taste, garlic and ginger pastes, the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice, garam masala and oil, stirring to combine. Add the marinade to the chicken, making sure the meat is evenly coated. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the chicken from the marinade (discarding the marinade). Bake in a large ungreased baking dish for 20 minutes, then baste it with the melted butter. Turn and bake for 20 more minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked through but still moist.
For the sauce: Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the whole garam masala, which will crackle. Then add the garlic and ginger pastes and chopped chili peppers, if desired. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture is fragrant. Add the tomato puree, chili powder, garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves and the water. Add salt to taste. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, then the cream or half-and-half, stirring constantly. (The dark sauce will turn an orangey pink.) Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to the pot, stirring to coat them with the sauce, and cook for 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Adapted from a recipe by Priya Phadke, assistant art director for Sunday Source.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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