Chicken Tikka Masala

This Chicken Tikka Masala is deliciously creamy and flavorful and it is very easy to make, if you have some time! Indian food is a favorite for David and I struggle with our local Indian Restaurants because we’ve been spoiled with UK Indian in our many travels across the pond. Yes, we can get Indian food, but it’s not as good as British Indian food. This recipe makes us happy and UK transplant approves, so I must be doing something right since this is UK’s favorite dish 😉

The exact origins of this recipe are uncertain, but we do know the dish was created in Britain. I like this version of it’s origins which claims that a Pakistani chef, Ali Ahmed Aslam, owner of the Shish Mahal restaurant in the west end of Glasgow, invented the dish. In 2013, his son Asif Ali told the story of its invention in 1971 to the BBC’s Hairy Bikers TV food program:

On a typical dark, wet Glasgow night, a bus driver coming off shift came in and ordered a chicken curry. He sent it back to the waiter saying it’s dry. At the time, Dad had an ulcer and was enjoying a plate of tomato soup. So he said why not put some tomato soup into the curry with some spices. They sent it back to the table and the bus driver absolutely loved it. He and his friends came back again and again and we put it on the menu.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_tikka_masala

Whoever created the dish has made one of the most iconic Indian dishes. For my version, I use chicken thighs because they have more flavor then breast and won’t dry up during the cooking process. I start by grilling the chicken to develop the smokey flavor you typically get with a tandoor oven (you could also use a smoking hot cast iron to develop those flavors). I then toast some aromatics and develop the curry sauce which has deep flavor. I keep my onions in wedges and add fresh tomatoes, but you could certainly blend your curry for a creamier consistency. If you omit the fresh tomatoes.

Look at those beautiful tomatoes!

Chicken Tikka Marinade Ingredients

  • 1 1/4lb of chicken thighs (about 6 thighs), cut into cubes
  • 8oz of greek yogurt
  • 2TBS olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, *smashed and turned into a paste
  • 2TBS of fresh ginger, *smashed and turned into a paste
  • 1tbs of garam masala
  • 1tbs of cumin
  • 1tbs of ground coriander
  • Zest from half of a lemon
  • Juice from half of a lemon
  • Bit of sea salt and ground black pepper

Curry Ingredients

You’ll notice some ingredients are repeated. This is because you’ll start by toasting some the curry aromatics. I would consider this a mild to medium curry.

  • 2TBS of olive oil
  • 2TBS of butter, unsalted recommended
  • 1 white/yellow onion, chopped
  • 1tsp of salt
  • 1TBS of fresh ginger, *smashed and turned into a paste
  • 6 cloves of garlic, *smashed and turned into a paste
  • 1TBS of paprika
  • 1TBS of garam masala
  • 2tsp of turmeric
  • 2tsp of coriander
  • 1tsp of cumin
  • 1/4tsp of cayenne pepper, if you want more heat reduce to 1/8tsp
  • 1 large tomato, cut into chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups of tomato puree
  • 1 1/4 cups of water, you could also use chicken stock if you prefer
  • 3/4 cup of cream, I used light cream
  • 1/8tsp of table sugar
  • 3TBS of butter, unsalted recommended
  • Sea salt, for finishing, if needed
  • Cilantro, for garnishing

Chicken Tikka Instructions

1. Begin by adding all of your marinade ingredients, except the chicken, to large chicken safe marinade bowl.

2. Mix the marinade together well. If the marinade seems too dry, add a bit more olive oil.

3. Cut your chicken into cubes and add them into the marinade and coat well. Refrigerator for at least 3-4hrs, overnight is recommended.

4. Remove your chicken from the refrigerator when your 1/2 hour out from cooking. This will remove some of the chill from your chicken before cooking. Don’t worry about about your chicken sitting on the counter for 1/2 hour, it will be fine and safe 👍

5. Add your chicken to some wood bbq skewers.

6. Add a grill liner to your grates. This will prevent the yogurt from dripping all over your grill and it will also create some great charred bits of yogurt goodness.

7. Grill your chicken for about 15 minutes, turning the skewers from time to time. Don’t worry if your chicken isn’t cooked completely since you’ll add it to your curry in the final stage of cooking.

Curry Instructions

1. Heat a cast iron pan on medium-high and add your olive oil and the first 2TBS of butter. When the butter is melted, add your onions, ginger and season with sea salt.

2. Cook for ~7 minutes, stirring constantly to ensure the ginger doesn’t burn.

3. Once the onions have become slightly translucent, reduce the heat to medium.

4. Now add your garlic and the paprika and cook for 2 minutes.

5. Now add the next six spices and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Your curry is coming together now and the aromas in your kitchen will be AMAZING.

6. Add your fresh tomato and cook for another 2 minutes.

7. Add your tomato puree and water and mix until well combined.

8. Bring to a low simmer and cover.

9. Simmer for ~25 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will allow your flavors to blend together.

10. At the 25 minute mark, add your cream, sugar and some additional butter to finish the curry. I would temper your cream first to prevent your curry from breaking.

11. Meanwhile, remove your chicken from the wooden skewers and add directly to the curry sauce. Add any additional charred goodness from your grill sheet directly to the curry sauce. Simmer the sauce until the chicken is cooked through.

12. Stir the Chicken Tikka into your curry sauce and simmer for 5-10 minutes, being careful not to let the cream or yogurt curdle.

13. Serve warm over rice and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

14. Don’t forget your naan to scoop up that delicious curry sauce, cheers!

* To develop a paste of ginger or garlic, smash with the flat side of the knife and chop. Once you’ve chopped the ginger or garlic thoroughly, take the flat side of the knife again and smash again running the blade across the chopped ginger or garlic to create a paste.

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