Subscribe for 33¢ / day

East Indian cuisine often pairs well with Alsace white wines, like gewurztraminer, pinot gris, riesling and muscat. Although gewurztraminer and riesling are generally associated with Germany, the Alsace region is actually located in the northeast area of France. Regardless, this match made in wine heaven should please one and all. Happy New Year!

Chicken Tikka Masala

6 garlic cloves, finely grated

4 tsp. finely grated peeled ginger

4 tsp. ground turmeric

2 tsp. garam masala

2 tsp. ground coriander

2 tsp. ground cumin

1½ c. whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise

3 Tbsp. ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

¼ c. tomato paste

6 cardamom pods, crushed

½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

One 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes

2 c. heavy cream

¾ c. chopped fresh cilantro plus sprigs for garnish

Steamed basmati rice (for serving)

Get tips on free stuff and fun ideas delivered weekly to your inbox

Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk yogurt, salt and half of spice mixture in a medium bowl; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4 to 6 hours. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.

Heat ghee in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom and chilies and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft; about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown; about 4 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens; 8 to 10 minutes.

Add cream and chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens; 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet. Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer. Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots (it will not be cooked through); about 10 minutes.

Cut chicken into bite-size pieces, add to sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through; 8-10 minutes. Serve with rice and cilantro sprigs.

Do ahead: Chicken can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Reheat before serving.

Pair this dish with Lucas & Lewellen’s 2015 Santa Barbara County Riesling. These white riesling grapes were grown in their Los Alamos Vineyard. Cool nights and mild, sunny days combine to provide a long growing season, giving the grapes plenty of time to ripen slowly and develop maximum varietal character. The riesling grapes were hand-harvested and cold fermented to preserve their fresh flavors and aromas. This was made in the style of beautiful German riesling, bigger, drier and crisper with honeyed, melon-tinged, spicy spearmint and tropical cherimoya flavors typical of the vineyard.


John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at