Recipe adapted from Shubhra Ramineni, Entice with Spice

Chicken tikka masala most likely does not need an introduction! Of all the popular chicken dishes served at Indian restaurants, this is my favorite, and so I tried to recreate it at home and have come up with this recipe. This is a two-part recipe: first you need to make the chicken tikka (small pieces of chicken) following the recipe for Chicken Kebabs, then you make the masala—a spiced tomato and onion base that is mixed with heavy cream to give an indulgent taste. You can save preparation and cooking time by cooking the kebabs a day in advance. I personally enjoy this dish served on a bed of rice with cumin and peas but you may also serve it with plain rice. Because of the heavy cream, try to resist making this dish too frequently for your own good!

Serves 3 to 4

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
1 onion, diced
1 ripe tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
One 1-in (2.5-cm) cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons butter
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup (65 ml) heavy cream
3 tablespoons water

Prepare the Chicken Kebabs, if you have not already done so, by stringing the chicken on skewers, and grilling over a high heat until done.  After allowing to cool, remove meat from skewers.
Pour the oil into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. When the oil is heated, add the garlic, ginger and onion. Sauté until the onion is golden brown, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the tomato. Cover the saucepan. Cook until the tomato becomes completely soft and mashed and is combined with the onion to form a coarse paste, stirring every minute or so and lightly mashing the tomato, about 5 minutes.
Add the cumin seeds, coriander, paprika, red pepper, salt, black pepper and sugar. Stir to combine. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. This is the masala (spice base). Transfer the masala (be careful, since it is hot) to a blender and blend until a smooth paste is formed.
Return the smooth paste to the saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick, butter, lime juice, heavy cream and water. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Enjoy now or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later!