Turkey with a TWIST… a twist on an Indian (or British?) classic. Are you looking to up your leftover turkey game to something a bit more interesting than soup or casseroles? Do you want to turn that bird into something far more exotic, far more flavorful, far more fragrant? And most important, are you willing to slave just a little more on the stove, after all that holiday cooking? If the answer is “Yes” to all, you have come to the right spot!
I mean, just one look at my turkey tikka masala and you will realize that this will be hands down the best thing you’ll try with that already cooked bird. It’s not only super tasty, with all those Indian flavors and aromas, but will look downright fancy. You’ll win some major praises if you serve this to your loved ones after the holidays. Most of the ingredients may very well be in your pantry, or are easily available. Barring a few Indian staples, your pot will still end up great if you miss an ingredient here and there. Just imagine all the excitement and energy you will create with just the mere thought of tikka masala… your turkey tikka masala.
Tikka masala may be the most popular Indian dish, and for many their first experience with Indian food. Mostly done with char grilled chicken chunks marinated in a spiced yogurt sauce and cooked in a creamy, luscious tomato based gravy. This concoction is so famous all over the world that that the origin is a subject of spicy debate between Britishers and Indians. Some claim that it was created in Glasgow, Britain, while others say it’s the result of the culinary talents of royal chefs of the Moghul Period in India.
Whatever the truth, there are many tweaks and versions. The British version is a little milder and creamier than the Indian version. You, my friends, can try your hand at adjusting the seasoning and ingredients to your liking to come up with your very own perfect tikka masala.
So how about creating this amazing classic, just swapping the bird, since we have plenty of leftovers in our freezer.
This is what you need to make this happen
To marinate the turkey
- Turkey – Your leftover dark meat is perfect for tikka masala. Saying that, white meat will do if that’s all you have left. It will be first cooked in a skillet and later in gravy, so cut it into larger chunks so it doesn’t become mush.
- Yogurt – Greek or regular yogurt.
- Ginger & Garlic – In a paste form.
- Spice powders – Kashmiri red chili (in its absence you can use paprika or chili flakes), turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala, black pepper.
- Fenugreek leaves (optional) – They are also called Kasuri methi leaves. These leaves come in dried form and you can certainly get them in an Indian grocery store. I highly recommend a place for this special flavor in your pantry for some great curries. It imparts amazing flavor to all Mughlai curries, just like your favorite Indian restaurant.
- Onions & Tomatoes – These will form the base for the gravy. Onions need to be very finely chopped or quickly blended in your chopper, so you end up with a smoother gravy. You can either use pureed fresh tomatoes, like in this recipe, or canned for brighter color and tangier flavor.
- Whole spices (optional) – Cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, cumin seeds. Except for the cumin seeds, you wont eat any of these whole spices, they are just there to impart flavors. You can remove them before serving, or ask your guests not to chew on them.
- Ginger & Garlic – Again, paste.
- Spice powders – Kashmiri red chili, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala.
- Heavy cream
- Oil – You can use butter or ghee instead.
- Garnishings – Cilantro, lime, even julienne cut ginger.
- Fenugreek leaves (again, optional)
Ok, now this will demand your time and attention
Mix all the marinade ingredients and marinate turkey chunks for half hour or more. Once ready to cook, give it a quick sear to the turkey pieces with a little oil in a skillet. Caste iron is great for giving a good and quick sear. Don’t overcrowd them to get the nice color. Remove them to a plate.
Now start building that amazing gravy by heating some oil in a pot on medium high heat. Add in whole spices and stir them for a few seconds. Add onions and sauté till it turns a dark golden brown color. Now this will take time, and you need to stir it every few minutes so as to avoid burning it. This develops a nice color on your onions and is such an important tip for a great looking gravy.
Time to add in ginger garlic paste, red chili powder, turmeric, coriander, cumin and with salt. Add a few tablespoons of water and cook this mixture for five minutes.
Now in goes the pureed tomatoes. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes. Add in about a cupful of water and cook covered for 10-15 more minutes, stirring occasionally. You need to cook this masala till the oil starts separating at the edges. Your gravy will start looking bright and pretty. Now you can stir in garam masala powder, fenugreek and a few tablespoons of leftover marinade (another tip to make it more flavorful).
Time to add in the cream and give it a stir. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add in a dash of honey. This gives an amazing end result.
All that’s left is to stir in those turkey chunks and cook for a few more minutes.
Plate it out and garnish with cilantro, lime, and even some green chili or julienne cut ginger. Don’t forget the naan bread (I love garlic naan with this one) and some fluffy basmati rice. Hmm, I am in my happy place.
It’s a little work, but worth every single minute you spend in the kitchen creating this magic. Doesn’t it look more tempting than some bowlful of turkey soup??
- Use canned tomatoes and even a little tomato paste for tangier results.
- Increase the amount of cream to make it creamier.
- Always adjust the heat to your liking by adding more or less chili powder. This one comes out pretty mild with just a slight punch.
- Try it with a smaller bird… chicken 🙂 . You just need to roast it in the skillet for a longer time, or bake or grill them to fully cook it.
Pin or bookmark this great recipe and share it on social media to spread the love. I’m sure everyone has a lot of turkey left in your freezer. Try using it differently this year. The only thing you are going to say after this meal is… Stuffed Again!! 🙂 Have a good one… 🙂
Leftover Turkey Tikka Masala, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
To marinate turkey
- 4 cups leftover turkey pieces
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1.5 Tbsp ginger garlic paste (see note 1)
- 2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp fenugreek leaves (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp oil
For tikka masala gravy
- 3 onions, finally chopped
- 1.5 Tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 3 tomatoes, puréed (or one 15 oz can tomato sauce)
- 2-3 cloves
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 1-2 small cinnamon sticks
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2-3 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder (see note 2)
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
- 1 Tbsp fenugreek leaves (optional)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream (see note 3)
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 6 Tbsp oil, divided
- Salt to taste
- Marinate turkey chunks with all the marinade ingredients for 30 minutes to a few hours.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a skillet and give a quick sear to marinated turkey chunks on both sides, saving aside any excess marinade. Do not over crowd the pan. Remove to plate and set aside.
- Heat 4 Tbsp oil in a large pot over medium high heat and add in whole spices (cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves and cumin seeds). Sauté for a few seconds then add in onions. Cook onions till they get brown in color, stirring every few minutes.
- Add in ginger garlic paste and cook for a minute. Add in salt, red chili powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander powder with few tablespoons of water and cook for five minutes.
- Add in tomatoes and mix well. Mix in 1 cup of water and cook covered for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Cook this mixture till oil starts separating at the edges.
- Add in garam masala powder, fenugreek leaves and 1- 2 Tbsp of leftover marinade (if any left). Mix well. Add in honey and swirl in cream. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add turkey chunks and cook for 5-8 minutes.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve it with naan roti or basmati rice.
- Take equal amounts of ginger and garlic to make paste together. I use my mortar and pestle.
- You can adjust hotness by adding more or less chili powder. In absence of Kashmiri red chili powder, use paprika or red chili flakes.
- You can use up to 1 cup of cream to make it creamier.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 510Total Fat 35gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 26gCholesterol 115mgSodium 851mgCarbohydrates 21gFiber 5gSugar 10gProtein 31g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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