Handed down through generations of sufi mystics and carried by the Priory of Sion to Bandon where it remained undiscovered in a secret vault until excavations found the ancient stone etchings, I can now reveal the best chicken tikka masala recipe on the planet.
More accurately, I was given a stocking-filler cookbook by my sister years ago which came with packets of spices. It did lay undiscovered for over five years until I finally used it to make a tikka paste and then used their recipe for chicken tikka. And it really is awesome. Up there with Mumrez Khan’s lamb and spinach karahi from “Rick Stein’s Food Heroes”.
The book is called “Great Curries” by Manisha Kanani and was published in 1997. I’d be surprised if you can still get it. Actually I just checked Amazon and someone is trying to sell it for £48! Original RRP was £9.95.
First the tikka paste. I normally make 3x these amounts and put it in a sterilised Tupperware and keep it in the fridge. Easily lasts a month, might even last longer but I always use it up before the month is out. Our regular Friday curry sees to that. I get (or actually Catherine gets) most of our spices in Mr Bells in the English Market. Great value in the big bags. Grinding cumin and coriander seeds is a pain in the ass with a pestle and mortar and doesn’t work with the multiquick type blenders so I usually use a coffee grinder and forget to clean it. Mmmmm, cumin coffee.
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds ** 2 tbsp cumin seeds ** 1.5 tbsp garlic powder ** 2 tbsp paprika ** 1 tbsp garam masala ** 1 tbsp ground ginger ** 2 tsp chilli powder ** .5 tsp turmeric ** 1 tbsp dried mint ** .25 tsp salt ** 1 tsp lemon juice ** drops of red and yellow food colouring (I know, I know but it gives you that “authentic” UK-style curry colour) ** 150 ml white wine vinegar ** 150 ml vegetable oil (I use sunflower, I don’t recommend olive, I guess nut oil works too) *
Put the oil in a frying pan and put on a medium heat. Grind up what needs to be ground (or buy pre-ground) and mix all the dry ingredients together. Then add the liquids plus some water if needed to have a thin paste. Pour into oil and let it bubble gently for 10 mins or so. Let it cool before putting in tupperware. Warning - it does stain.
For the Chicken Tikka Masala itself, I usually do 6 chicken breasts for 3.5 people (us, Fiona, Ois/Shibs nibbling). Yeah, we’re hungry savages.
- 6 chicken breasts cut into thick strips ** a thumb of fresh ginger peeled and roughly chopped ** 3 or 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped (or to taste) ** 1 chilli roughly chooped (or 1 tbsp of harissa or jarred chillis) ** 8 tbsp of the paste ** 1 pot natural yoghurt ** 2 medium onions roughly chopped ** 2 tbsp tomato puree ** 4 tbsp ground almonds ** 300-400 ml water ** 150-200 ml cream ** half a lemon ** vegetable oil
Mix 3 tbsp of the paste with the yoghurt, cover the chicken all over with it and leave to marinade for as long as you have. To be honest this is rarely more than an hour for me.
Onions, garlic, ginger, chilli and some oil into big pot and sweat em down for 5 or 6 mins
Add the rest of the paste and cook for a minute. Add the puree and cook for a further few mins. Ditto the almonds which are a really surprising addition but you really miss them if they are not there.
Add enough water so it won’t stick and cook it gently for about 20 mins.
Grill the chicken for a 5-7 mins on each side (the book also coats them with butter but I don’t bother).
Put on your rice.
Zuzz this sauce using a multiquick or food processor or liquidiser and return to the pot. Squeeze the half lemon in and add cream until it is the consistency you want. Put the chicken in the sauce. Bring it back to bubbling and check for seasoning. The book adds fresh coriander but we’re not fans so I leave it out.
Naans under the grill for a minute or two each side.
Drain the rice, plate up, crack open a few tinnies and that’s Friday all nicely sorted.