A traditional Indian dish, a Chicken Tikka Masala consists of chunks of roasted chicken in a creamy, orange-colored light curry sauce. We're tweaking this traditional dish, cooking our chicken sous vide instead of roasting, to render the meat more tender and succulent. That comes with a trade-off though as the chicken loses that depth of flavor that only roasting can give.
Begin by making a good curry base. Roasting your aromatics(ginger, garlic, and shallots) will intensify those flavors to a totally different characteristic. Do so over low heat, sweating them slowly, so they caramelize evenly without scorching.
After a few minutes, its time to get those tomatoes in. I prefer to use crushed canned tomatoes due to the sweet taste that comes consistently with them. Finding perfectly ripe fresh tomatoes at the market would indeed be more difficult than getting these canned varieties.
Give those tomatoes some time to roast too. Doing so would turn their flavor from slightly acidic to naturally sweet.
You'll know the tomatoes are roasted good enough as you see that bright orange oil in your pan. Its then time to add in your curry spice blend for some roasting too.
Most cooks would use a garam masala here. I prefer a chicken masala which should easily come available at most Indian spice shops.
Actually, a curry spice blend would have no strict structure at all. It basically is a blend of various spices, in changing proportions, and differs from one recipe to another. Most Indian chefs would definitely have their own secret blend of spices.
As soon as your pan gets really aromatic, pour in your milk. Coconut milk, cream, yogurt, half-and-half. . . they should all work equally good. Try something new each time and you'll know what you'll stick with. I personally switch between yogurt and coconut milk depending on my mood in the kitchen.
This next step won't be necessary. I just find that blending my curry sauce makes it much more refined and much more uniformly flavored. Again, by personal preference, I'd rather smoothen out those bits of garlic and ginger into my sauce than having them in distinct bits.
Season the chicken with a bit of salt, then put them in the bag together with the marinade.
When doing a Tikka Masala before, I go for chicken thigh fillets everytime instead of breasts. I just find chicken breasts too dry to my liking.
No longer with sous vide cooking. The precise temperature cooking that sous vide allows just makes chicken breasts equally tender and succulent to any other part.
Since we're using fillets, these should cook in an hour or less at 145F. If you don't have an immersion circulator yet or are thinking of upgrading, check out my recent post on the best immersion circulators I've tested.
This curry dish is good to serve out of the bag. A final sprinkle of fresh cilantro would freshen up those flavors.
Some rice or flat bread would of course be a must.