In the past we've had threads dedicated to food, but this time around I want to dedicate it to the foods we make ourselves. I love to cook - it helps me destress, which is something I struggle terribly with. I can't be the only one here who likes to cook. It doesn't have to be fancy, pretension just makes food taste worse. So, let me start it off!
Today, I made Chicken Tikka Masala. It's a super tasty, rich tomato-base sauce with small chunks of marinated, grilled chicken mixed in. You can serve it with rice, or naan bread (or both).
Here is a picture:
Chicken Tikka Masala was invented in the UK, and not in India. It was designed to appeal to British palettes and it really appeals to mine. "Tikka" means "small pieces", so in the case of today, small pieces of chicken. Masala is just a name for a mixture of spices, not a name for a sauce itself. I love how this dish represents the UK's large Indian population within it.
We don't always have to give recipes, but I figured I would if anyone would like to make this at home themselves. I'm going to use mostly metric measurements, but I'll add american cup sizes where I'm able to - it doesn't come naturally to me. I'll also give the American name for ingredients as well as the British ones - if I know them.
Ingredients: (Serves 6)
For Spice Mixture:
Ground Cumin (1-2 Tablespoons)
Ground Tumeric (1-2 Tablespoons)
Garam Masala (1-2 Tablespoons)
Sea Salt (1 Tablespoon)
Garlic (6-8 cloves, depends how much you like garlic really)
Ginger (Equal amount to the garlic)
1 Red Chilli Pepper (Get a variety you're comfortable with, I like spicy so I get hot peppers even if you don't like spicy, at least get a mild chilli)
For The Chicken Tikka:
900g Chicken, boneless and skinless (I use chicken thigh, it is juicier and more flavourful than breast - but breast is fine too)
450g Natural Yogurt (1 1/2 cups) (I don't recommend using greek yogurt, it's so thick you're not going to get much sauce - get the runnier more traditional kind)
For the Curry Sauce:
3 Tablespoon Ghee Butter (A type of clarified butter, which is without the milk solids. It's used a LOT in Indian cooking, if you can't get this, vegetable oil is fine)
2 Tins Plum Tomatoes est. 800g (You can use chopped tomatoes, but your going to get more water content)
2 Tablespoon Tomato Puree (You guys have that right? It's the tomato paste in a tube. Don't get any herb variety's just straight up tomato)
1 Onion (I use a large onion, but if you don't like onion so much just use a small onion - though I'm worried about people who don't like onion.)
1 Chilli Pepper (Same rules as above)
5-6 Cardamom Pods (Cardamom is popular in Indian cooking, both in desserts and in savoury dishes like this, you can omit if you can't find them)
200g Double Cream (This is called Heavy Cream, I believe. If you're on a diet, use yogurt instead - but I think the flavor is worth it.)
Handful of chopped Coriander (This is called Cilantro in America I believe. If you don't like coriander, please omit it isn't essential but using it is more authentic.)
First we are going to make our chicken marinade. As with most marinades, overnight is best but you can survive with only marinating about 3 hours or so.
1) Add all the ingredients I listed for the Spice Mixture in a small bowl. For the Garlic, Ginger and Chilli, chop them finely.
2) In a large bowl combine half of the spice mixture and all of the yogurt and mix well - put aside.
3) Cut our chicken into strips or small chunks. Don't go crazy, bite-sized chunks is good but minced meat isn't.
4) Combine the chicken with the spiced yogurt in the large bowl and mix it together with your hands. We want all the chicken covered.
5) Cover with film or foil and put in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
~An indefinite amount of time later~
Okay, now we are ready to get our curry sauce started.
1) Chop your onion and chilli finely, add a few more cloves of chopped garlic if you like (I like).
2) Grab yourself a large stainless steel pot and put it on the stove on a medium heat. Add the Ghee.
3) When the Ghee is hot add your tomato paste, cardamom pods, onion, chilli and garlic and fry until soft. The tomato paste should go nice and dark. (Around 5 minutes)
4) Lower the heat a little, now add the other half of our spice mixture from earlier. Your pot will suddenly lose all its moisture as the mix soaks it up, this is okay. We are cooking the bitter edge out of the powdered spices. We want the bottom of our pot to get a little brown, but try to not let it burn, scrape it off with a spoon spoon or spatula and mix it back in. After 3-5 minutes, we should be good.
5) Add our canned tomatoes. If you're using whole tomatoes like me, mash them down with your wooden spoon/spatula as you add them. Also scrape any spices on the bottom of the pot at this point as it is easy to do straight after you add the liquid from the tomato.
6) Add your chopped Coriander (Cilantro).
7) Add a lid to your pot and leave it to thicken. If your worried about it maybe burning at the bottom, make sure your heat is low and stir it a little.
Now it'll take about 10 minutes for that to start thickening up. While that is doing that, we are going to take our Chicken outta the fridge and start turning it into Tikka. It should look nice and yellow, still covered with yogurt. If there is a little water there, don't worry that'll be the salt drawing out the moisture.
First, pre-heat your oven to 200 (C) or 390 (F).
Line a baking tray (maybe two if you don't have a big one) with foil and spread out the chicken evenly and put it in your warm oven for around 15-20 minutes. What we are doing is trying to replicate a tandoor oven, used in most Indian cooking. Most people don't have a tandoor in their home, I know I don't. :P But we can get mostly the same effect by doing this.
When your chicken is cooked, now put them under a hot broiler until the edges get a little blackened and charred. This is the tandoor effect I was talking about. When that is done, set it aside until you're ready to add it to your curry sauce.
Back to our curry sauce. It should be a little thicker now, give it a stir and mix all the solids from the bottom back to the top. All we have to do now is add the double cream (Heavy Cream), mix well. Your curry should look instantly creamer and a much lighter colour. Put a lid back on the pot and leave that for about an hour, occasionally stirring.
After that time has elapsed turn off the heat on your curry sauce and add the chicken tikka. The chicken doesn't need ANY Cooking, we are just introducing them to the sauce. Mix it all so the Tikka is well covered and it now ready to serve. I like to serve with basmati rice with some garden peas mixed in. Top with chopped coriander if that's your thing.
Tips: Wash your rice! Under a tap, fill your rice pot with water and with your hands brush your rice. The water will turn milky white, pour that away. Fill again and repeat until your rice water is clear. This gets rid of any sticky starch and gives us light, fluffy rice. If you're worried about nutrient loss, don't - rice doesn't lose any by washing.
If you or who you are serving think the curry is too spicy, add a spoonful of yogurt ontop. Or Mint Raita if you wanna get fancy (A side dish of cucumber, coriander, mint and yogurt).
What are you guys favourite things to cook?
Got any recipes to share? :)