If you look at our history of recipes it is abundantly clear that we love cooking Asian cuisine. Indian recipes are no exception to this rule. Cooking Indian dishes can be incredibly intimidating because most recipes come with a list of dozens of spices. We have created this recipe to help use some spices that you may already have on hand (cayenne, chili powder) and introduce new spices (garam masala, turmeric) in a way that is approachable. All of these spices can be found at your local grocery store or on Amazon.
Chicken Tikka Masala is a creamy, tomato based curry and the best dish to introduce you to Indian cuisine. It is traditionally served with steamed rice, which we have done in this recipe. We created this meal as a two-part Instant Pot recipe; you can prep the masala ingredients while the rice is cooking and reuse the Instant Pot to help alleviate the kitchen cleanup.
Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala
Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes
Ingredients for Rice:
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
1 tbs butter
Ingredients for Tikka Masala:
2 lbs chicken breasts
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 white onion, diced
2 tbs tandoori powder
2 tbs garam masala
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne powder
8 oz can tomato sauce
8 oz can coconut milk
1 1/2 cups non-fat greek yogurt
2 green onions, chopped (optional)
Add the rice and water to the Instant Pot and click the “Rice” setting.
While the rice is cooking, prepare the Tikka Masala ingredients. Cut the chicken into cubes or bite sized pieces and set aside in a bowl with the garlic and onion. In another bowl, combine the spices (tandoori powder – cayenne powder).
When the rice is finished cooking, de-pressurize the Instant Pot and move the rice to large bowl. Add the butter and salt and cover with foil to keep the rice warm. You do not need to perfectly clean out the Instant Pot. You will be using it again for the tikka, so if a few grains of rice get left behind, that is perfectly fine.
Set the Instant Pot on the “Saute” setting. Add the olive oil and the bowl of chicken, garlic and onions. Saute for 5 minutes until the onions become translucent. Add the bowl of spices and saute for 2 minutes so that the spices become toasted.
Add the tomato sauce and coconut milk and give everything a big stir so that the onions and chicken are lifted from the bottom of the pot. Change the Instant Pot setting to “High Pressure” for 6 minutes.
Once you have depressurized the pot, open the top and add the Greek yogurt. Stir in the yogurt until the sauce is fully blended.
To serve, place a large scoop of rice at the bottom of the bowl. Add the Tikka Masala with extra sauce for the rice to soak up. Top with green onions and serve immediately.
Last week Tate asked you via Instagram stories what kind of recipes you wanted to see from us in the new year. We got quite a few responses asking for vegetarian dishes and plant based dishes, which led us to the creation of this recipe! When brainstorming plant-based entrees, we immediately reached for lentils, which are high in protein and low in carbs. We LOVE Indian food at Tuck & Tate and consider eating Indian anytime we are searching for comfort food. Dal is a lentil curry that has the consistency of something between a porridge and a stew depending on where you eat it. It can be served as a side dish or as a vegetarian entree. We like to serve it with rice and peas for a quick, vegetarian dinner on a work night.
We love that Indian dishes tend to have ingredients that help fight inflammation, boost immunity, and detox the body. Turmeric, ginger, garlic, and coriander do a double combo of fighting off illnesses floating around in the air and maintain our health from the inside out. Making this recipe using the pressure cooker setting of the instant pot cuts out a bunch of time in the kitchen, but if you don’t have one you can easily make this on the stove top. Instructions for stove top cooking are at the bottom of the recipe.
Instant Pot Dal (Lentil Curry)
Makes: 4 servings as an entree, 6-8 as a side dish
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
2 tbs vegetable oil or coconut oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs fresh ginger, minced
2 vine tomatoes, large dice
1 jalapeno, seeds and stem removed, minced
2 cups red lentils
1 tbs curry powder
1 tbs cumin
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander
1 can coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you prefer)
salt and pepper to taste
Heat your Instant Pot on the medium “saute” setting.
Add the vegetable oil, yellow onion, garlic, and ginger to the pot. Saute for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent. If at any time the pot becomes too hot and the ingredients start to burn on the bottom of the pan, reduce the heat setting to low on the Instant Pot.
Add the tomatoes, jalapeno, lentils and spices (curry powder – coriander) to the pot. Saute another 3-4 minutes, or until the jalapeno and spices start to become fragrant.
Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock to the pot. Cover with the Instant Pot lid and set to the “high pressure cook” setting. Make sure the vent release is closed and set the timer to cook the lentils for 10 minutes. We allowed for 20 minutes in this cooking time because of the times it takes the Instant Pot to reach the pressure level to start cooking.
After the 10 minutes, release the steam from the Instant Pot. Remove the lid and give everything a good stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with rice, naan, or any other desired Indian dishes.
** To make this recipe exclusively on the stove top, soak the lentils for 30 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Cook everything in a stove top pot, add the liquids, and cook covered for 25- 30 minutes or until the lentils have reached your desired texture.
A brief summary of how Tuck’s parents plan their winter vacation: Step 1: San Pellegrino updates their 50 Best Restaurant List. Tuck’s mom then reviews which of those restaurants have an episode on Netflix’s Chef’s Table. Last February she found one about was Chef Gaggan Anand and his progressive, avant-guard restaurant, Gaggan, in Bangkok. It was ranked 4th in the world by San Pellegrino. Step 2: Tuck’s mom requests a reservation at said restaurant for sometime during the baseball offseason and starts praying to the food gods that they get in. Step 3: Tuck’s mom and dad “coincidentally” watch the same episode on Chef’s Table. Step 4: Tuck’s dad really wants to go! “How amazing does that look?!” he usually says. Step 5: Tuck’s mom magically has a reservation and has already booked plane flights to eat at said restaurant.
The Story: The story above pretty much summarizes how we booked our trip to Thailand. It may seem absolutely absurd to most people to plan an entire trip around the world for one dinner, but food is our favorite hobby (hello, food blog). If said hobby happens to take us somewhere new and exciting, even better. Chef Gaggan has become famous for his “rebel” attitude when it comes to fine dining; he brings to the table a completely new approach to haute-cuisine. Eating a meal at Gaggan Anand gives you all of the taste, flavor, and surprise of the elite fine dining experience with absolutely none of the pretension that usually comes with. You are supposed to let loose and sing along while you enjoy a 25 course dinner. It was truly one of the most incredible dining experiences we have ever had.
The Reservation: This part of the experience is the only aspect that was a little stressful and less traditional than other dining experiences we have encountered. You can submit for a reservation via their website for any particular day- to our knowledge there is no length of time too far away. If you are dying to go here and traveling to Bangkok we would recommend submitting requests for each day that you are available to go. There is nowhere on the form to submit for multiple days, and if the one day you request is not available you aren’t given any alternatives. It can take between two or three weeks to get a response, so don’t bother refreshing your email every 30 seconds like we did in the days that follow your reservation request. There are two options for seating at Gaggan Anand and you have to request which of the seating options you want at the time of your submission: “Arena G” is the regular restaurant with 4 (ish) seating times. “The G Spot” is a community table with a single seating each night. The menu is the exact same as Arena G but the alcohol pairing is included with this seating and you have significantly more interaction with the chefs while you eat. At the time of our reservation, reservations for Arena G were about $300 per person (no alcohol) and $600 per person (with alcohol). We opted for Arena G and had a table for two at 9:30 pm. Here is where the reservation process gets a little tricky- once you receive an email that you have received a reservation, you have to pay the full price of the meal via Pay Pal and send them a copy of your receipt. You’re hit with a 5% Pay Pal fee which kind of stinks on a $600 tab, but otherwise it all worked out okay. They will email you once they have received your Pay Pal payment and you are all set to dine at Gaggan Anand – again this could take as long as a few weeks so don’t panic if you don’t hear right away!
The Experience (many spoilers ahead!): From the second we walked into the restaurant, we knew this was going to be unlike any other fine dining experience. Gaggan is a professed rebel and rock lover, and we were serenaded by the likes of Lizzo and The Foo Fighters throughout our three hour dinner. The decor in the restaurant is fun and contemporary with outer space vibes. The entire experience is relaxed; the waitstaff and chef crew clearly take their jobs very seriously but have a fun time doing it. Once we were seated we were presented with a teal box- the box contained pieces to a wooden puzzle and each piece had a picture of an emoji on it. Each dish of the dinner is presented and diners guess what emoji matches each course based on the explanation the waitstaff provides. Each table builds their puzzle throughout the dinner as opposed to receiving a menu of any sort.
As Gaggan says in the Chef’s Table documentary, his goal is to “assault” diners with food- 25 courses in all- and constantly surprise guests with what is coming next. Each course feels completely different from the one before- dishes are served piping hot and then ice cold, one is incredibly crunchy and the next is meant to be licked off the plate (literally). We did not receive a single eating utensil until the 14th course. The dish ware is exquisite and the entire meal truly feels like a giant surprise. We have never tasted many of these flavors, eaten these types of ingredients, or been as challenged to think outside the box of what Indian cuisine can be.
What we appreciated most about the experience was the balance of extravagance and simplicity in each dish. Every detail is thought out. The menu is a biography and reflection of Gaggan’s life and a collection of his experiences. The dish each plate is served on help reinforce those themes. For example, the dish pictured below was a cauliflower puree with raisin and chili jelly dots; it was represented by the rainbow emoji on our menu. The colors of the powders are all flavored with Indian spices and pays homage to the Hindu Holi Festival (the color festival that takes place in India every spring). In true Gaggan fashion, you are not given a fork to eat this dish- you are asked to lick it off the plate with your tongue. Dinner at Gaggan Anand was one of the best dinner experiences we have ever had. It felt new, exciting, and was just plain fun! If it wasn’t so far away from home, Tuck’s mom would already be plotting how to return.