Chicken Tikka Masala

Here is a curry-related story for you:

Back when I was freshly 18, my friends and I decided (similarly to every other newly legal teenager) that we would become regulars at a bar called The Fox on a Sunday afternoon/night. We would arrive in the late afternoon to try and score a lower-numbered ticket to gain access to the apparently-exclusive rooftop bar and then drink downstairs or walk into West End and eat the great assortment of food they have on offer. This happened multiple weekends in a row and somehow didn’t get old.

The downside to the rooftop bar was that once you got up there, you couldn’t get back down without getting another ticket and waiting your turn all over again. Some of us managed to sweet-talk the young guy who manned the stairs every now and then, so one night, I decided I’d go downstairs and see if a friend had arrived. Sadly, I couldn’t get back up to the roof and was left alone surrounded by intoxicated strangers. After begging the stair-man repeatly, to no avail, I walked into West End for food. The first place I came across was an Indian restaurant and I thought it was a brilliant idea to order curry (I found out much later, that it wasn’t).

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Anyway…fast forward to this year: my love for curry extends further then when I’ve had a few too many beverages. I had most of today off, so I spent the day cleaning my house and washing my clothes. Boredom kicked in pretty hard…I’m supposed to be on holiday! I need to make the most of every day! So I cooked up some curry.

Indian curry minus all that extra, unhealthy fluff that they put in at your local Indian takeout joint? Yes please.

Generally recipes I make are incredibly easy, with only a handful of ingredients, so when I saw the list of spices needed for this curry, I was a little hesistant. Curry is wonderful though and I figured I’d use the spices more often if they were available in my cupboard, so delicious, rich, creamy chicken masala it is.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 6

6 cloves of garlic, finely grated
4 tsp ginger, finely grated
4 tsp ground tumeric
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 cups plain yoghurt
1/2 tbsp salt
1kg chicken breast, halved lengthwise
1tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
6 cardamom pods, crushed
1/2 tsp ground chilli, or chilli flakes
2x 400g cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 1/2 cups light cream
3/4cup chopped fresh coriander, plus extra for garnishing

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, tumeric, garam masala, coriander and cumin. Whisk half this spice mixture with the yoghurt and salt and add chicken pieces, turning to ensure they are fully coated. Glad wrap the chicken and the left over spice mix and place into the fridge. Leave chicken to marinate for 4-6 hours or overnight.
Heat vegetable oil in a hot pot and add onion, cardamom, tomato paste and chillis. Cook over medium heat until tomato paste has darkened and onions have softened. Add the two cans of whole peeled tomatoes, using your spoon to smoosh them a little. Bring mixture to the boil before reducing the heat and allowing to simmer for 10minutes. When the sauce thickens, add cream and fresh coriander. Stir frequently until sauce is thick and rich: approximately 35 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, preheat the grill and lay out the chicken in a single layer on a foil-lined baking tray. Cook chicken until parts start to blacken (around 10 minutes): they will not be cooked all the way through. Remove from grill, chop into chunks and add to the curry sauce. Continue to simmer and stir until chicken has cooked thoroughly. Serve with steamed basmati rice and decorate with extra chopped, fresh coriander.

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You can substitute the cream with coconut cream if you’d prefer.

While this recipe seems to be quite a bit of effort and very time-consuming, the results are well worth it. The curry is reminiscent of the delicious, take-away Indian curries you can buy, however with much less salt, fake flavouring and preservatives. This meal is perfect for cold weather, as well as healthy; a good option if you’re having over a few guests or are planning on having some freezable left-overs. This curry uses a great amount of spices; an easy way to amp up the flavour in a dish rather than using salt. These spices can be used in numerous recipes and are an excellent staple to have around the house. I am slowly building up my collection of spices.

Just so you know, my pay day is still 2 days away so I can’t afford to go out and do anything fun till then. Cooking curry isn’t my only form of enjoyment! I have a social life I swear!

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