Diwali Delight part 2… Chicken Tikka Masala

I have probably eaten every popular Indian Dish available on an Indian menu. This is thanks to working with a very talented chef called Errol who generously brings in mounds of Indian and Indian inspired dishes for us hungry workers on London Underground.

Despite eating tons of Indian food however, I have never tried to cook any Indian dishes myself. I was always afraid it would be too much work, or would leave my house smelling of a local curry take-away… After some research and some encouragement from my Asian friends I have now finally taken the plunge and made my first Indian dish, a Chicken Tikka Masala (which isn’t a true Indian dish, but a good starting point for Indian cooking).

This particular version of the dish was pretty simple to make, and a lot of fun as well. It involved dry roasting of spices, lots of whizzing up ingredients in my under-used food processor and lots of stirring, reducing and frying and grilling of ingredients. Which may sound complicated, but really was quite simple… All in all I think this recipe is a fantastic starting point for anyone like me who is interested in cooking foods from many cultures. And for those who think Indian curries are always fiery hot, fear not this recipe has little heat, but loads of flavour. So give it a go, your taste buds will truly thank you for it!

CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA

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  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
  • Marinating time: at least 4 hours

You will need:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Basmati rice and naan bread to serve

This is a two-part recipe, so I will separate it down to the basic components. The first being the marinade for the chicken. I recommend that you make the marinade the day before you want to cook the dish, so that you can allow the all the flavours from it to embed into the chicken overnight, but if you forget, or don’t have the space in your kitchen, you can make it on the day, but you must allow at least four hours of marinading time to get any flavours into the chicken.

Marinade Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 5 cm/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp garam masala (see my last posting to make your own, or use ready-made)
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 150 ml natural yogurt
  • juice of ½ a lemon

Method

  1. Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan for 2 to 3 minutes until they begin to darken and become aromatic.
  2. Once toasted place the cumin seeds in a food processor with the garlic and ginger, then whizz them up into a paste.
  3. Add the spices, a pinch or two of salt, the yogurt and the lemon juice. Then whizz again until smooth.
  4. Slash the chicken breasts several times crossways with a knife. Then put in a large glass or ceramic dish and cover with the marinade, ensuring you get the marinade into all the slashes.
  5. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours, but overnight is best.

Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 5 cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 6 ripe tomatoes
  • ½ tsp brown sugar
  • 300 ml chicken stock, hot
  • 150 ml single cream
  • lemon juice to taste
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Method

    1. In a food processor, whizz the onions and giner to a paste.
    2. Heat the oil in a large pan, then cook the paste, garam masala and tumeric for 5-10 minutes until a little golden.
    3. Meanwhile, whizz the tomatoes in the same food processor and add to the pan with the sugar and cook for 10 minutes more until pulpy.
    4. Add the stock to the pan with the sauce and simmer for  about 10-12 minutes until the sauce is reduced by about two-thirds.

To complete the dish:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium. Place the marinaded chicken breasts on a grill rack and grill for 5-8 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (this step could also be completed on a barbecue).
  2. When cooked, cut the chicken into large chunks and add to the pan with sauce and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  3. Stir in the cream, then heat gently – if it boils the cream will split.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding lemon juice to taste.
  5. Stir through the chopped coriander, and serve with the basmati rice and naan breads.
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