Chicken Tikka Masala is a fusion food that has become one of the most coveted on the list of curries.
It’s origin is definitely a bone of contention among Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and British chefs as all of them claim rights of ownership constantly.
In ingredients and cooking methods it is remarkably similar to the Punjabi Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani and quite close to some Balti and Karahi recipes from northern areas of Pakistan. On the other hand, a few years back, Robin Cook, former British Foreign Secretary, owned chicken tikka masala as the new national dish of the United Kingdom. Some people trace the history back to the Colonial era…and even before that to the Moghuls.
It’s origin is shrouded in mystery but one thing is confirmed, we all love the creamy, spicy indulgence of chicken tikka masala !
It’s not something I would cook very frequently as it is loaded with calories but it’s definitely something I crave very often and save for special occasions.
For those who frequently order it at takeaways, the good news is that it can be prepared within 30 minutes, cooked ahead and frozen to be used later and it’s VERY easy !
My recipe has no tomato ketchup or red food colouring included, the colour comes from turmeric and Kashmiri red chillies, whereas the sweet and sour taste comes from onions, tomatoes, cream and yogurt.
Next time you crave chicken tikka masala, go for the kitchen blender rather than pick up the phone to call home delivery.

For Chicken Tikka Masala :

For Marinade :
1/2 kg boneless, skinless chicken cut into bite size cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red chilli powder or Kashmiri chilli powder for more colour
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons plain yogurt

For Masala :
4 ripe tomatoes, puréed
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 inch piece ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 cup yogurt
1 cup cream
1/4 cup ghee or vegetable oil

This Is What You Do :

Add garlic, ginger, salt, red chillies, cumin, coriander, turmeric in a food processor. Add a little water and whiz to make masala paste. Set aside.
Mix all the ingredients of marinade in a bowl. Add chicken pieces, mix to coat thoroughly in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile heat oil in a wok or deep frying pan on medium heat. Add onions, fry till soft and light golden.
Add masala paste and sauté for 2 minutes. Add tomato purée and 1/4 cup water. Reduce heat, cover the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes or till the tomatoes don’t taste raw anymore.
Add yogurt, stir and cook covered another 5 minutes.
While masala is cooking, heat a frying pan or grill and cook the chicken pieces till done inside and slightly charred on outside.
Add the cooked chicken pieces to the masala, stir in cream. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes. If the masala is too dry, add a little warm water to get the desired consistency.
Garnish with fresh coriander, serve hot with naan.

Serves 4

Tips : change this recipe slightly to cook Chicken Tikka Karahi… Omit cream and yogurt, add 6 chopped tomatoes instead of tomato purée , follow the rest of the recipe according to the instructions above.

To save more time you can marinade the chicken overnight.

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