Chicken Tikka Masala with Baby Spinach and Basmati Rice

½ cup basmati rice
10 ounces boneless skinless chicken thigh pieces
Peeled fresh garlic
1 lemon
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 yellow onion
Fresh ginger
Fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
Masala spice blend (coriander – cumin – cardamom – garam masala – sweet paprika – nutmeg)
¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
½ cup diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons coconut milk
Baby spinach

Cook the rice
In a fine-mesh strainer, rinse the rice.
In a small sauce pot, combine the rice and ¾ cup lightly salted water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, 12 to 14 minutes. Fluff with a fork, cover, and keep warm.
While the rice cooks, marinate the chicken.

Make the marinade; marinate the chicken
Cut a small corner from the chicken packaging; drain off any excess liquid. Transfer to a plate; pat dry with a paper towel.
Finely chop, press, or grate enough garlic to measure 1 teaspoon.
Juice half the lemon; cut half into wedges for garnish.
In a medium bowl, stir together the chicken, garlic, lemon juice, and yogurt; season with salt and pepper. Set aside to marinate.
While the chicken marinates, prepare the remaining ingredients.

Prep the onion, ginger, and cilantro
Peel and coarsely chop the yellow onion.
Grate or peel and finely chop the ginger.
Coarsely chop the cilantro.

Cook the chicken
In a medium sauce pot over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons oil until hot but not smoking. Add the chicken; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned but not yet cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Do not wipe out the pot.

Make the sauce
In the same pot used for the chicken, warm the butter or 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, masala spice blend, and as much cayenne as you like; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, coconut milk, and ½ cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the chicken; cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat; fold in the spinach.

Transfer the rice to individual bowls; top with the chicken and sauce. Garnish with the cilantro; serve with the lemon wedges.
Chicken Tikka Masala with baby spinach and Basmati rice

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