This is a very special kind of crazy I’m borderlining on. And one of my proudest moments. Sorry kids, mommy loves you, but the preparation and/or consumption of these chicken tikka enchiladas may have surpassed the joy I felt at your births. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Kinda. In all seriousness though, these enchiladas are no laughing matter. Remember when I promised you a knock-your-socks-off kinda recipe with this bomb tikka masala sauce? I was talking about this even more bombalicious chicken tikka masala enchilada goodness. There is just so much happening here from the stuffed, succulent pieces of chicken swimming in rich, creamy tikka masala sauce, contained in soft, corn tortillas; melty, gooey cheese baked to a perfection; to the spicy yogurt-mint raita. Talk about fusion food adventures ❤.
I relate to these chicken tikka masala enchiladas on so many levels. It is the hybrid of many flavors, and everyone gets along so well. We all need these enchiladas in our lives. I am lover of all things enchiladas and tex-mex. Can you guess by looking at the blog? I have 20,000 recipes of mexican/ tex-mex inspired dishes. The spices in more mexican, and less tex-mex dishes are very similar to the spices used in (pseudo) indian cooking so this marriage of soft corn tortillas and rich chicken tikka masala was the perfect union. These two were made to be wed into eternity, with only good times to be had; even if their existence is short-lived.
I wasn’t anticipating how well these enchiladas would turn out until I looked at the 9X13 pan, full of enchiladas. It was 3/4 empty. After The Mister ate. It took a lot of self control to only eat a normal sized portion for myself, but I did it and when I looked at the pan again and then The Mister’s plate, I knew I’d have to take the pan away before he polished off the entire pan. They were THAT daaahhh-llllisssshhh-ousss! I think I can safely say I won that round of dinner #likeabawss.
Friends, the key to making these enchiladas a quick meal is to make the tikka masala paste in advance with my bomb tikka masala paste recipe. It stores well in the fridge and even better long term in the freezer, so all you’re doing is making the sauce and filling, stuffing warm corn tortillas, topping with cheese, and baking to gooey, cheesy, perfection. A note about the chicken: I like to marinate the chicken in a little bit of the tikka masala paste and drop it into the sauce as the sauce cooks. Once the chicken is cooked, pull it out of the sauce, and shred with two forks, add some of the sauce into a bowl with the shredded chicken, add shredded cheese, and fill the tortillas. I know it sounds like a lot of work but seriously guys, it’s the stuff that fills your stomach with comfort and warms you up on a cool fall night, as you settle in for the night to watch election coverage and all things cable news. #totalnerdstatus.
This election season has brought the concept of crafting narratives front and center for me. Without getting political, I can tell you that I have been critically examining my narrative- history and legacy. We juggle so many identities, both personal and public- ranging from our familial and cultural identities to our professional identities. And while some people struggle to keep those identities very compartmentalized, mine bleed into each other. My narrative is very much interwoven with my multiple identities, just like these chicken tikka masala enchiladas. I would like to leave these enchiladas as a part of my legacy, for many to enjoy, long after I’m gone. You’re welcome, world.
Chicken tikka masala, by itself isn’t actually a “true” indian dish. It’s birth is british, taking heavily/entirely from indian spices and catering to a milder palate. Its migration to the United States, in a very happening food scene, introduced it to the cool cats of tex-mex like cheesy enchiladas and the complex flavors of various enchilada sauces. All of the goodness of tex mex is, of course, inspired by mexican cuisine, for which I am eternally grateful. When you bring all these bold flavors together, expecting a culinary conflict of flavor to see which flavor reigns supreme, you’re actually pleasantly surprised. These complex flavors of each element of the chicken tikka masala enchiladas work together, in perfect harmony, to create a phenomenal balance of texture and taste.
The surprising pull-together factor of this bomb dinner//lunch//brunch/breakfast//we don’t judge how you eat deliciousness, is the spicy yogurt mint raita (chutney). Sauces have a very special place in my heart. They highlight, cool down, or spice up a dish, depending on the flavors of the dish. They’re the underdogs of the culinary world. Think about how many times you make a sauce for a meal. The liquid can be essential to keeping chicken moist, or serves as the perfect sweet garnish to a mild dessert, spices up AND cools down in baked sriracha wings. The possibilities!
This raita has a cooling but spicy effect on the enchiladas. How both? The yogurt and mint are cooling agents but the serano adds a kick. If you prefer a milder taste, either seed the serrano prior to blending or omit it altogether. Note- the enchiladas were on the milder side for me so I kept the serano in for my family and my spice loving offspring enjoyed it. There are also pieces of cucumber and tomato in the raita which lend crunch to the overall dish- I prefer seeded english cucumber but use whatever you have. Just seed it first or your raita may become watery.
Between getting back to my much neglected blog and lif-ing, I found out yesterday that one of my recipes was featured in a Huffington Post Canada piece on thanksgiving leftovers. I was geeking out so hard. I did a happy dance and proceeded to pour over every blog post and make sure everything was in order. I think I needed that to get back into action and make this blog a priority- treat it as my 5th child if you will- because the joy I feel when I share a recipe and get feedback, is unparalleled. Remember, when we were talking about narratives a little while ago? Yup, my narrative clearly focuses on service through food. I love hearing from each and every one of you, letting me know how your cooking adventures are going; if you’ve had any epic fails we can share a good laugh about (I have my fair share); and just what you think in general. Because you matter. Your opinion matters.
And now, because your opinion matters, please commence loving these chicken tikka enchiladas and posting about them.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 3/4 cup + 4tbsp tikka masala paste
- 3 cups milk
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp cooking fat
- 1 1/2 cup shredded cheese
- 12 tortillas*
- FOR THE RAITA:
- 1/2 cup yogurt (low or full fat)
- 1 tomato, chopped and seeded
- 1 cup cucumber, chopped and seeded
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1/4 cup mint
- pinch of salt
- 1 serrano pepper, stem removed (de-seed for milder raita or omit completely)
- cotija cheese for garnish
- chopped cilantro for garnish
- PREHEAT OVEN to 375 degrees.
- MARINATE THE CHICKEN. Combine 4 tbsp of tikka masala paste with chicken. Coat well. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to 24 hours in the fridge.
- MAKE THE TIKKA MASALA SAUCE. In a large saucepan, heat cooking fat over medium heat. Add remaining tikka masala paste and stir for 3-4 minutes, until masala starts to turn a nutty brown. Add tomato sauce. Stir to mix into masala paste. Slowly add in milk and cream. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the marinated chicken, cover and cook for 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked completely, until juices run clear. Remove chicken from masala sauce and shred with two forks while chicken is still very hot.
- MAKE THE FILLING. In a medium bowl, combine shredded chicken with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the tikka masala sauce and 1 cup of cheese. Add enough liquid to moisten the chicken and you may need more or less, depending on how shredded chicken you have.
- HEAT THE TORTILLAS. In a dry frying pan, heat the tortillas, one tortilla at a time. Heat each side for 15-20 seconds, just until they become pliable. Wrap the tortillas in a clean towel to keep warm while assembling the enchiladas.
- ASSEMBLE THE ENCHILADAS. In a greased 9X13 baking dish, spread 1 cup of the unused tikka masala. Taking one tortilla out at a time from the towel, using a pair of tongs, dip into the remaining masala sauce, just enough to lightly coat the tortillas on each side. Fill with a heaping tablespoon of the chicken and cheese mixture. Roll and place into the pan, seam side down. Continue doing this for all the tortillas.** Top the enchiladas with any remaining masala sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
- BAKE covered for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 3-5 minutes, until the cheese melts.
- MAKE THE RIATA. While the enchiladas are baking, Add yogurt, mint, cilantro, and serrano pepper into a blender. Blend until you have a smooth, green colored sauce. Pour into a bowl and stir in tomato and cucumber. Add salt to taste.
- GARNISH with cotija cheese and fresh cilantro if desired. Serve enchiladas warm, topped with mint yogurt raita.
*I like to use corn tortillas but if you prefer flour tortillas, feel free to use those instead.
**I like to like line up 8 enchiladas across the length of the pan and add the remaining four in the gap at the width of the pan.