In a food processor, pulse the chile and ginger until very finely chopped. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice and process until the mixture is puréed. Set aside.
Melt 6 Tbs. of the butter in a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add about a third of the chicken pieces and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken absorbs some of the butter and begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate. Repeat with the remaining two batches of chicken.
Add the remaining 2 Tbs. butter to the pan. When it’s melted, add the paprika and 4 tsp. of the cumin and stir until the spices just begin to darken, 10 to 15 seconds.
Immediately add the tomato mixture. Simmer vigorously, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the cream and 1 tsp. kosher salt and stir well.
Add the chicken and stir gently to mix. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occassionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the garam masala and remaining cumin. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with cilantro, and serve.
Make Ahead Tips
Chicken tikka masala tastes even better made ahead. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to four days; it also freezes well. Thaw completely before reheating on low heat and add a little additional garam masala and cumin before serving, if you like.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on eight servings, Calories
32, Fat Calories
280, Saturated Fat
23, Monounsaturated Fat
9, Polyunsaturated Fat
Photo: Scott Phillips