In the United Kingdom, chicken tikka masala is a very popular dish. They love it, I love it and better yet, everyone I have made it for, loves it. Surely, it should be named Britian's official national dish. Beautiful, succulent chunks of marinated chicken in a fragrant, creamy tomato sauce.
I grew up hating curry. Like many Portuguese households, curry is a flourecent yellow sauce with chunks of dry chicken breast. Since moving to the U.K.,
I have come to love curry. I make a killer curry with a clear Portuguese accent, but no less delicious. My coconut curry is influenced by Macau, a former Portuguese colony. I will have to share that recipe soon. I add chouriço, which I feel adds a beautiful smokey flavour. I recently bought a masala dabba, it's an Indian spice box with 7 round, stainless steel containers, that fit neatly inside a larger clear, glass, lidded box. I bought two because this beautiful little box also doubles as the perfect vessel to make panna cotta in a bain marie. I will share that in a different post. I have custom made spices I've blended myself, including the one used in this recipe. Of course you can buy a ready made blend. Chicken breast is most often used, but I prefer thigh. Feel free to use either or both. The chicken is usually charred on a charcoal grill, but for this quick weekday version, I just fired up my indoor grill pan. You can also place on a baking sheet and place under your oven's grill for a few minutes on each side.
Today's recipe is my own and I make no claim to "authenticy", the last thing I need is a war about that. It's delicious and that is all that matters.
This recipe calls for cream instead of coconut milk. Make it as mild or as hot as you like. I tend to make mine a medium spice. The sky's the limit here. Feel free to add your own twists.
My Chicken Tikka Masala
For the Marinade
650 g. Chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
450 g. Yogurt, plain and full fat
2 lemons, juiced
1 tbsp. Course sea salt
1 tsp. Black pepper, freshly ground
4 Garlic clove, finely minced
1tbsp. Ginger, fresh, finely minced
1 tbsp. Sweet smoked paprika
For the Sauce
2 tbsp. Ghee/Clarified butter
2 tbsp. Olive oil
1 Onion, diced
6 Garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Ginger piece about 2 inches long, finely minced
2 Red chillies, seeded and chopped
2 Bay leaves
1 tsp. Fenugreek leaves (optional)
1 tsp. Sugar
2 tsp. Sweet, smoked paprika
1 tbsp. Garam masala spice blend, preferably Punjabi
2 tbsp. Tomato paste concentrate
2 Cans Tomatoes, chopped and undrained
125 ml. Double/heavy cream
1 Cup Water
For the marinade, 4 hours or up to overnight
Combine all marinade ingredients in a large, plastic,freezer bag.
Prick chicken all over with a fork, cut into bite size chunks.
Add to bag, squeeze out excess air and close.
Refrigerate until ready to cook, 4 hours or up to overnight. The longer the better :)
For the Sauce
1. In a large pot, heat butter and oil on a medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger, chillies and fry gently while stirring.
2. Add the garam masala and the paprika and saute for about 1 minute, to enhance their flavors. After 1 minute add tomato paste and stir while letting it fry for 30 seconds.
3. Add tomatoes and thier juice, bay leaves, sugar and 1 cup of water. Simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it, adding more water a little at a time if it thickens too much.
4. Meanwhile remove chicken from marinade and heat grill to very high heat, place chicken on hot grill and cook turning once, until it's lightly charred around edges. You don't need to cook it all the way through , as it will finish cooking in sauce.
5. Remove chicken to plate and reserve.
6. Discard bay leaves from sauce and using an emersion/stick blender, purée sauce until smooth. You can pour the sauce into a blender/ food processor, if you don't have one, then just pour it back into the pan.
7. Add the chicken and fenugreek leaves, if using. Turn heat to low and simmer sauce for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the cream and stir through. Adjust seasonings. A squeeze of lemon juice will rectify and balance a too rich sauce.
8. Garnish with chopped, fresh coriander and serve with basmati rice, naan, or any delicious, crusty piece of bread!