All recipes paired with wine, Austria, Gruner Veltliner, Poultry

My first Chicken Tikka Masala with Chia Basmati Rice

There are certain cuisines that we are less familiar with then others, and for me the one I have never tried was Indian cuisine. I love to eat it but it’s “unknown” territory. My Indian customer in Connecticut got me hooked on the food, but I always believed it’s a special combination of freshly grounded seasoning, and techniques  and yadi yadi yada … With respect to an authenticity, I wasn’t even fooling around with it.

But I started to experiment (just for myself) with some vegetarian dishes, creating recipes with eggplant and chickpeas and spinach …. some that tasted “like Indian cuisine”, but probably far from the original stuff. And then one day I virtually befriended  one sweet Indian soul called Vrinda who assured me that just like any other “traditional staples” of different international cuisines, Indian cooking also has its multiple variations of dishes, and everybody adds their own personal touch to it. In other words – just do it, and make it your own!

So, why not? I gave myself permission to play with Indian food. And shortly after, I became a personal chef for a lady whose father is an Indian and, on top of it, great cook. On our second session, she asked me to prepare some Indian chicken dish. Whaaaat? That’s like cooking your own Bolognese for an auntie from Tuscany!

But being a fighter as I am, I looked up some recipes on line and realized that it shouldn’t be such a trauma. The bonus – it’s going to be delicious and spicy. And that’s all that I like.

So here is my adapted recipe for my first ever Chicken Tikka Masala. I loved it so much, that after all day cooking at my client’s house, I immediately made some for us at home so my husband can taste it! Please don’t get discouraged by the list of ingredients. Most of it are spices  you probably already have in your spice cabinet and pantry.

Comp tikka

Chicken Tikka Masala with Chia Basmati Rice
Serves: 6


  • ½ cup rice vinegar (or white yoghurt)
  • teaspoon each of cumin, ginger, turmeric, paprika
  • 5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or regular butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, double if you want more heat
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3- 4 large ripe tomatoes (peeled – instructions included – and roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder or

For the rice:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon of raw chia seeds
  • ½ small shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups of water or chicken broth
  • salt
  1. Mix rice vinegar with 1 teaspoon each of cumin, ginger, turmeric, paprika, and add coconut oil. Pour over chicken and store covered in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.Co Chicken tikka masala3
  2. Heat ghee or butter in a large skillet with heavy bottom over medium heat, add onions and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. I used my favorite cast iron pot. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add cumin, salt, ginger, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and turmeric into the onion mixture and saute for 2 more minutes. Scrape the onion mixture to a small bowl.Co Chicken tikka masala4
  3. Peel tomatoes (pierce skin on the bottom of each tomato, boil for 30 seconds, take out of the boiling water, cool with running cold water in the colander in the sink, and carefully peel the skin off with your hand). Roughly chop tomatoes and let simmer in the same large pot you just sauteed onions, until it reaches sauce consistency (about 10 – 15 minutes).Co Chicken tikka masala5
  4.  Return onion mixture to the tomato sauce and simmer for 10 more minutes. Mix in coconut milk, paprika, and sugar. Bring sauce back to boil and turn the heat down to simmer.Co Chicken tikka masala7Co Chicken tikka masala9
  5. Heat coconut oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Take the chicken pieces from the marinade and stir carefully into the hot oil, sprinkle with more curry powder, and sear until lightly browned but still pink inside, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken and any pan juices into the tomato sauce. Let simmer chicken in sauce until no longer pink, about 30 minutes. The sauce will reduce, thicken and all the flavors just beautifully blend together. Adjust seasoning if needed.Co Chicken tikka masala8Co Chicken tikka masala12
  6. While the chicken is cooking, heat tablespoon of olive oil (or coconut oil) in the small rice pan, mince shallot and garlic and cook until fluorescent but not brown. Add tablespoon of chia seeds and cook shortly, stirring. Add basmati rice, water (or chicken broth), season with salt (unless you’re using chicken stock), and bring to boil.Co Chicken tikka masala13
  7. Cover the lid, turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 15 minutes on very low heat. Turn off the heat, and let the rice finish up in its own heat. Fluff with fork when done, and pour the chicken tikka masala deliciousness all over the rice!!! If you have time before you dig in, you can decorate it with few leafs of cilantro. Enjoy!Co Chicken tikka masala14

I have paired this dish with Weingut Groiss Grüner Veltliner 2011. The crispiness of this wine paired well with this spicy and creamy chicken dish.  I must tell you, well made Gruner veltliner like this one (by the way, it comes in 1L bottle so it’s a gem) is so versatile, it pairs with almost anything. This one is my “house wine” and I hooked many of my friends on it. Even those that prefer sweeter white wines. Funny, this wine is dry and crisp, but collectively loved.

Let me know what cuisine you are experimenting with!

All recipes paired with wine, Poultry

Italian turkey thighs with roasted veggies

Italian turkey thighs with roasted veggies


Ok, who wants to hear anything about turkey for at least another week? I do, I do! Didn’t you just finish all the leftovers from Thanksgiving? Well, to my excuse, I didn’t make turkey on Thanksgiving for just two of us – we would have to eat it for a month!Then I saw all those turkeys on sale and I realized – why don’t I buy turkey, butcher it, save some in freezer and make a little bit at the time? So I did just that.

I have de-boned the turkey (I know it sounds scary, but it wasn’t that bad. All you need is good nerves and sharp knife). Now I have several packages in my freezer. I have divided it to four packages of just turkey breast meat and some bones with wings, when I feel like making a good stock. I was still left with 2 large legs and the entire bone rib cage – with some meat on it. I let that cook with some root vegetables and made a very rich soup. Since both me and my husband love dark meat, I baked the thighs first.

One of the reasons was that I was anxious to try the new seasoning I got from Pelago Valley – and picked the Italian flavors Rosa’s Savory Italian Turkey Seasoning. I loved the aroma as soon as I opened the package. It’s full of rosemary, sage, garlic and who know what else. I didn’t have a need to add anything to it. The preparation of the meat couldn’t be easier – I just dripped a bit of olive oil on each of the turkey’s thighs, rubbed in the seasoning and added about 1/2 cup of water to the pan. That’s all to it! The result was more than delicious!!!

Italian turkey thighs with roasted veggies

2 turkey thighs
1/4 cup of olive oil
2-3 table spoon of Pelago Rosa’s Savory Italian Turkey Seasoning
1/2 – 1 cup of water
1 zucchini
1 red onion
6 medium sized mushrooms
1/2 eggplant
6 medium red potatoes

Clean your turkey thighs and drizzle with olive oil. Place it in baking dish, put the spices into your palm and rub it on the entire meat. Add water to the baking pan and let bake for about 1,5 – 2 hours (it depends on the size of thighs). Just to give you some estimate,
I baked mine for about 2 hours and it came from 10lb turkey. Nothing compare to the time spent when you bake whole turkey. You can tell by the smell and color of the meat when it’s done. The inside temperature should reach about 180F, if you want to be sure it’s done.

While the turkey was baking, I cleaned my vegetables and cut it into similar size pieces – zucchini into thick slices, mushrooms into halves, eggplant into cubes and onion with potatoes into wedges. Spread it in the large baking dish or a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and use about 2 tablespoon of the Rosa’s Savory Italian Turkey Seasoning again. Mix together and since the oven is already running, stick it in there for about 25 minutes towards the end of turkey baking.

The smell of this dish was incredible. And the taste – I have never had this juicy turkey meat before. It was nothing like Thanksgiving – we didn’t have all the sides, nor the cranberry sauce – I prepared veggies the way I would make them on the grill. But let me tell you, we couldn’t stop eating! And yes, the one thigh was enough for both of us for dinner. My mouth is still watering when I am writing about it.
Super delicious!

Wine pairing suggestion:
I have paired this dish with Austrian Grüner Veltliner from Weingut – Groiss, a young winery from the hills of Wagram. I was glad to discover this wine in my local wine shop – since I loved this variety in Europe. This one is very well made, a lot of fruit on the palate, yet nicely dry and crisp. The best part is that it comes in 1L (which is about 1/3 more wine than regular bottle) for $ 9.99! Don’t think twice if you see this on the shelf. It’s a great wine and it worked with our turkey perfectly!