Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Chicken Tikka Masala Balls

Posted: September 30, 2010 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 1 Comment »

One of my favorite things about this foodblogging thing is the sense of community we form. It’s like a huge, interconnected recipe swap, or one of those Junior League cookbooks with the spiral binding and the recipes for Jello Salad and the like. Only here, the recipes are all pretty much outstanding. And very little Jell-o is involved. Usually.

An excellent blog that I’ve recently come to know is Big Girls, Small Kitchen. These girls have a great wealth of knowledge, and are down to earth about what the realities of cooking in New York really are. Twitter also fosters those relationships, and makes you aware of things that you might miss otherwise.

About a month ago, Cara from BGSK tweeted that she had posted a recipe to Food 52 for Chicken Meatball Tikka Masala. Intrigued, I copied down the ingredient list, and made the recipe. The first time, I only made one substitution, using parsley instead of cilantro, because I don’t eat cilantro (soap =/= delicious). It was amazing.

Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph that cookthrough. But I knew this was something I wanted to blog about. So, darn, I had to cook it again. (sarcasm alert)

This time I had to make a few substitutions/changes. But either way, this is delicious, and the flavors only get better as they age, which means that the leftovers are even better the next day for lunch. I love that. I also love making meatballs, which means that this dish makes me super happy. One of the substitutions that I had to make, based on my grocery store’s limitations, was using ground turkey instead of ground chicken for the meatballs. I also totally forgot that I’d used up all my ginger, didn’t buy more, and had to do without. AND, as mentioned before, cilantro tastes like soap, which means I’m allergic to it, so I didn’t use it. BUT it was delicious, so we will press on.

Turkey Meatballs Tikka Masala
Adapted, gratefully, from Cara at Big Girls, Small Kitchen

Turkey Tikka Masala Meatballs

Begin by combining a pound of ground turkey, 2 minced shallots, a bunch of chopped parsley, 3/4 cup of homemade breadcrumbs (put 2 slices of bread in the food processor and pulse into crumbs), an egg, a tablespoon of tomato paste, and (since I didn’t have ginger) a teaspoon each of ground cumin, and either your favorite garam masala, or Moroccan 5-spice powder (thanks, Jackie!). Roll the mixture into golfball-sized meatballs, and saute in olive oil until they are browned on all sides.

Turkey Tikka Masala Meatballs
For the sauce, combine 1/2 a cup of canned tomatoes (mine had green chiles as well, a nice touch) and a tablespoon and a half of tomato paste in your food processor or blender, and whirl until they’re smooth.
Meanwhile. Get out a sturdy pan. If you have a cast-iron or stainless steel skillet, or even an enameled dutch oven, that’s what you want to use. You DO NOT want to use a non-stick pan for this. They don’t get hot enough. Trust me.

Before you do anything WITH your heavy pan other than put it on the burner, assemble and prep your other ingredients. Measure out the following:
1 teaspoon mustard seeds. Put those in a tiny dish or on a saucer.
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted, 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds toasted, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1-2 teaspoons (to taste) garam masala or whatever spice blend you prefer. These go in another tiny dish, that you can easily dump out.
4 minced shallots (or 2 minced shallots and a minced small onion), and 4 grated cloves of garlic. Put these on a small plate.
Now. Turn on your kitchen fan, we’re going for high heat for a minute.
Put your heavy pan over high heat, and add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. When the oil is SCREAMING HOT, add the mustard seeds, cover, and immediately drop the heat to medium. When the seeds stop popping (this will be about 15 seconds) add the shallots and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring and moving around frequently, until the shallots are getting nicely golden. Then, add the cumin, coriander, cayenne, etc and cook a minute or so more, to toast the spices.
Add the tomatoes, and reduce the heat a little. Simmer until the sauce has reduced to a paste-like consistency.
Turkey Tikka Masala Meatballs

Add in a quarter-cup of coconut milk, a teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of salt, and a quarter cup of water. Bring the sauce to a boil, and simmer covered for 10 minutes, to let all the flavors meld. At this point, add the meatballs back into the sauce, and let everything get happy. Serve the meatballs and sauce over rice, or with naan, or other flatbread. The leftovers are great for lunch the next day, or, if you’re like me…. breakfast. :)


One Comment on “Chicken Tikka Masala Balls”

  1. 1 Bakezilla said at 12:48 pm on October 3, 2010:

    That’s funny that you’re allergic to cilantro. A lot of people who don’t like good are actually allergic to it, little known fact. I will try to keep that in mind for dinner parties

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Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.