Chicken Tikka Masala in the Instant Pot

This was, once again, a consensus recipe composed of several online sources. I should really capture the sources and credit them, but I forgot to do that.

Marinade
·         2 lb boneless skinless chicken (breast or thighs) – I had a bit under two pounds of boneless skinless breast tenders.
·         1 – 1 ½ cup plain greek yogurt – used 1 1/2
·         3 tbsp lemon juice 
·         1 ½ tbsp garam masala
·         2 tbsp dried ginger
·         2 tbsp dried garlic
·         1 tsp ground coriander
Sauce
·         Splash of oil
·         1 cup diced onion – used frozen chopped
·         2 tsp minced garlic
·         2 tsp ginger paste
·         1 tsp paprika
·         1 tbsp garam masala
·         1 tsp turmeric
·         1 tsp corander
·         1 tsp cumin
·         1 can (14 oz) diced tomato
·         1 can tomato sauce
·         ½ cup chicken stock
·         1 1/2 cups half and half.  I ended up using a “fat free” product I bought by accident.
Basmati Butter Rice 
·         16 ounces basmati rice (white)
·         2 cups water
·          3 Tbs butter
·          ¼ tsp salt
·         Cut chicken into chunks
·         Mix all marinade ingredients in a bowl, mix well with chicken, cover, and leave in fridge at least an hour and ideally overnight.
·         On day of cooking – turn pot to saute mode.  Add a splash of oil.  Add in the onion, cook until softening.  
·         Then add the spices, stir a few minutes until toasted and aromatic.
·         Add chicken chunks in batches, brown them. Remove from pan.
·         Add broth, deglaze
·         Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chicken, stir well.  
·         Add trivet and second pan.  In second pan mix all rice ingredients.
·         Switch pan to manual high pressure and set for 5 minutes.  
·         When complete, allow natural pressure release for 10 minutes.
·         Then remove lid and return to saute mode.  Slowly stir in cream and cook until sauce is thickened.
·         Serve over rice.
Experience and results:



Well, this recipe is edible but can definitely use work.

The sauce was far too watery, and by the time I added enough cream to make it at least somewhat thick, it turned out to be an enormous amount of sauce for the amount of chicken.  Also, the chicken ended up tasting/seeming more like it was stewed rather than grilled – breaking up into fairly small pieces and no sense of tasting “browned”.  

As I was cooking it, the initial onion + seasoning mixture cooked to kind of a slurry, so when I put the chunks of chicken in to cook they didn’t really brown at all, they just kind of stewed.  The extra yogurt marinate in the chicken contributed to this effect, and I probably put too much of the chicken mixture in the pan at once.

The flavor of the sauce wasn’t bad – the tomato flavor was a bit brighter than the effect I was going for.  That could be resolved by adding more cream, which I didn’t want to do because it was already too liquid and sooo much sauce.

The pot-in-pot cooking resulted in rice that was delicious.  Note that the amount of rice fully filled the bowl I used.  The overall pot was so full that some of the red sauce from below seemed to have bubbled all the way up to the lid and then dripped down into the rice a bit, which made the rice tinted a bit red and flavored a bit.  Not really a problem.  

For future tries, here are some of the things I’ll change:
  1. More chicken, and instead of cutting it up into small chunks in the marinade, I’ll do bigger chunks (whole tenders) through the browning stage, then cut up the pieces after they’re browned.
  2. Instead of browning the onions and spices first, will brown the chicken first, in smaller batches, and will sort of shake the excess yogurt off the pieces before browning.  That way they can get truly browned.  Once those are done and out of the way, will toss in the onions and spices, and will add the remainder of the yogurt marinade to the mix when I return the chicken pieces to the pot just before pressure-cooking.
  3. Reduce the recipe liquids – skip the half-cup of chicken stock entirely.  Maybe do tomato paste instead of tomato sauce?  
  4. Use real half-and-half instead of whatever was in the fat-free stuff.  I’m afraid whatever they use to thicken the fake stuff breaks down under heat?

A couple of other observations – I bought a tube of ginger paste to use instead of chopping my own ginger or using dried ginger.  This was super-convenient but I think that the couple tsp I put in the recipe (um, is that tsp?  I wonder… maybe I used tablespoons?) was about all that was in the tube.  If so – not a very good value.  So will probably look for larger-quantity prepared fresh stuff, or will convert the recipe to dried ginger.  


And, I bought some whole grain naan from the store which … was perfectly tasty as bread but neither of us felt it really captured what we love about restaurant naan.  Will try a different product or skip that next time.

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