Rainy Day Indian Food Smorgasbord…

So, I’ve been getting ready to try this recipe for weeks now. As you know mom, but perhaps our readers don’t, I have an incredible spice rack that has been curated by the many grad students that have lived here. On this spice rack are all the necessary ingredients to make my all time favorite Indian dish – Chicken Tikka Masala.

In addition to that I made Palak Paneer which is a spinach and cheese curry, but instead of paneer cheese I had to use a hard ricotta cheese because I went to three different grocery stores (including the all might Trader Joe’s!) and could not find paneer.

I spent a looooong time putting these together but well worth it because they are delicious! And I have big giant Tupperware full of leftover for the week!!

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Chicken marinade

For the marinade:

  • Cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1″ chunks
  • Combine the following to make the marinade:
  • 2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper 
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala*
  • pinch of salt
  • Add the chicken to marinade. (I read once on the internet to poke the chicken with a fork so the marinade properly soaks in, but I don’t know if that really works. I did it nonetheless!) Then put it in a baggie and let it hang out in the fridge until you have to add the chicken.
photo 2 (3)

Pre-mix spices to make your cooking most efficient!

A wise step here is to go through the recipe, get together the spices that should be added at certain steps and set them aside – this expedites the process and keeps you organized in a recipe that requites an onslaught of spices!

Chicken Tikka Masala:

  • Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and 1 tbsp of ghee in a large pot.
  • (Optional) put 1 cinnamon stick and 2 cloves in bottom of pot. Let them cook till it smells delicious (a minute or two).
  • Put into pot 1 finely diced onion, 1 tbsp of ginger (or fresh ginger minced), 3 cloves of garlic, minced. Let this cook for a few minutes or until onions are slightly brown.
  • Add a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, 2 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tbsp cumin, 1/2 tbsp coriander, and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper. Cook this until fat leaves the spice-tomato-paste – a.k.a. wait for little pools of liquid to form on top.
  • Now, take chicken something out of the fridge and add the chicken. Also add 1/2 tsp of garam masala, 1 tbsp brown sugar, and 1 cup water. 
  • Let cook for 20-25 minutes.
  • Turn up heat and reduce sauce.
  • Turn heat low and add 2-4 tbsp of heavy cream.


Palak Paneer:

  • Begin with 1 cup of boiling water. Pour water over one package of frozen chopped spinach. Set aside.
  • In a pot, melt 1 1/2 tbsp ghee ( the recipe I based this off of says tbsp but that seemed excessive so I reduced it..).
  • Finely dice 1 onion. Let cook in ghee SLOWLY. It should take about 20 minutes for onion to cook – if it starts to brown, turn down the heat!
  • Add 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp curry powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric. 
  • Once onion is cooked, stir in spinach & water and add 3 tbsp plain Greek yogurt, 2 tsp lemon (use the other half of the lemon from the marinade!) 1 tsp salt. 
  • Finally, cut hard ricotta cheese (or paneer cheese if you manage to find it!) into 1/2″  cubes and stir into mix.



photo 4 (1)

DELICIOUS. I also made a little basmati rice because I had a lot of sauce that I didn’t want to waste and if you only make a half a serving, it’s not too high in calories. Plus, between the two recipes the worst for you is the ghee and the heavy cream in the Tikka Masala.

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The sheer variety and amount of spices made my kitchen smell so good and warm on this very rainy cold night!

I’m not going to even attempt modesty, everything was delicious. However, I have a few improvements I would make if I did it again (Oh, I will):

  1. Dice onions REALLY fine. and use maybe 1/2 onion in both recipe.
  2. Puree tomatoes. I don’t like tomato chunks.
  3. Make the sauce creamier. It’s not quite as smooth and creamy as it is from restaurants.

I also started two experiments tonight that won’t be ready till tomorrow: Frozen yogurt snacking chips and chocolate chia pudding. So tomorrow is going to be a dessert post!

P.S. It’s a Harry Potter Weekend on ABC Family, so if you’re looking for something to have on TV while you do work, that’s what I have running in the background all. weekend. long.



One thought on “Rainy Day Indian Food Smorgasbord…

  1. This dish looks incredible! I am so proud of you for attempting such a complicated dish. Your magic bullet would also be a great tool for making a quick puree.

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