Chicken Tikka Masala
We had to rearrange our weekend as our daughter got chicken pox mid week, which meant her birthday party needed to be rearranged, childcare and cover at work needed to be sorted. So with no baking to do for the weekend, I felt like making some of the Anglo-Indian curry classics We start with the quintessential of fusion meals, Chicken Tikka Masala, which has become one of the icons of modern British food.
I like it in part because it tastes good, but also because it really is one of those evil meals that makes use of ingredients that I would never normally touch – Heinz tomato ketchup and Heinz tomato soup. I know you can make a more authentic Indian sauce without these ingredients, but that misses the point about Chicken Tikka Masala, i.e. that it is tandoori chicken with a lightly spiced tomato-curry sauce using quick-to-hand ingredients; you can feel the panic of the chef who invented it – what do I do to make a tomato curry sauce? Oh I know tomato soup, tomato ketchup, tomato, cream and some spices with a dash of sourness from vinegar and see what happens.
So here is my version, which can be made hotter but this is designed to be child-friendly rather than adult-authentic, so if you want some heat added just add 2 – 4 green chillis to the tikka masala sauce and you should be okay. Also, you could circumvent all the spices by using a tandoori masala for the chicken-yoghurt marinade and a tikka or Madras curry powder in the tikka sauce.
We also made lamb korma which I will write about soon.
Axel’s Chicken Tikka Masala
Stage 1: To marinade and roast the spiced chicken
1tsp organic paprika
½ tsp cumin seeds, dry roasted then ground in pestle & mortar
½ tsp nutmeg powder
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp yellow mustard powder
1tsp garam masala
4 green cardamom pods, opened so the flavour from the seeds comes out
1 green chilli (medium heat), deseeded and chopped
2tbsp lime juice
3tbsp plain yoghurt
500g / 1lb chicken breast, chopped into 2cm / 1 inch cubes
Spices For Tikka Marinade
Firstly prepare the spices, dry roasting the cumin and deseeding the green chilli. Add all these to a metal or glass mixing bowl. Stir in the lime juice until you have a paste, then add the yoghurt and mix through all the flavours.
Finally, with the best chicken you can find or are happy buying, chop this into cubes and then add to the spicy marinade and stir through throughly. Cover with clingfilm and leave in fridge to infuse with the flavours. I try and leave it overnight but a minimum of 3 hours is fine.
Chicken Pieces Infusing With Spices In Yoghurt Marinade
As for chilli, you can increase or decrease those quantities to suit your desire for heat; as we have two children, they are not too enamoured of over hot food so I tend to keep the heat quotient down for them.
On the next day, while you are making the tikka masala sauce, roast these curry flavoured chicken pieces by placing them evenly on a baking tray and cooking in a 180C / 350F oven for 20 – 25 minutes until nicely browned.
Roasted Tikka Chicken Pieces
Stage 2: Making the tikka masala sauce
2tbsp ghee or sunflower/vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 large onion (1½ medium onions), chopped finely
½ sweet pepper (red or green), chopped into small dices
1cm / ½ inch fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp medium curry powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp chilli powder (or more to taste)
1tbsp white wine vinegar
4tbsp chopped tomatoes from a tin
1tbsp tomato ketchup, ideally Heinz as it should be slightly sweet
175ml / ¾ cup tomato soup, once again ideally Heinz as the colour and sweetness is right
100ml / ½ cup single cream
½ tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely
½ tsp sea salt, or chaat masala
Spice Mix For Tikka Sauce
Start by preparing the spice mix that is needed for the sauce, i.e. the fresh ginger to coriander powder in the list. When done, heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a frying pan. Add the onions and garlic cloves and fry gently for 3 minutes until starting to get translucent, then add the chopped bell pepper and fry for another 2 – 3 minutes. Add the spice mix to the onion-garlic-pepper and mix throughly and fry for about 1 minute.
Gently Fry Onions, Garlic And Ginger In Ghee
Now add all the liquid ingredients to the onion mix and stir completely - that is the white wine vinegar, chopped tinned tomatoes, tomato ketchup, Heinz tomato soup and single cream.
Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Then add in the garam masala, fresh coriander leaves and chaat masala/ salt.
Stage 3: Fusion Time – bringing it all together
As a final stage, add the roasted spicy chicken pieces to the tikka sauce. Stir it together and let cook together for about 15 minutes.
Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala
Serve with rice and naan bread.