Chicken tikka masala is one of Britain’s favourite dishes. Believed to be a local adaptation of India’s butter chicken, chicken tikka masala is such a part of the British culinary fabric, it goes by the acronym CTM.
Usually eaten in restaurants, or as a takeaway, I had never actually made chicken tikka masala myself.
There are two elements to this dish – the batch of chicken tikka and the rich tomato sauce. These are then combined to create the final dish.
Chicken tikka masala
For the chicken tikka:
- a thumb of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 large green chilli, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 500g boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
For the sauce:
- 2 Tb sunflower oil
- 1 large onion, minced
- seeds from 5-6 cardamom pods
- 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1/4 tsp cloves, ground
- a thumb of ginger, grated
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
- 1 Tb tomato purée
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp fenugreek leaves, dried
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 Tb lemon juice
- In a food processor, blitz the ginger, garlic, salt, chilli powder, turmeric, cumin, caster sugar and garam masala into a paste. Mix with the yogurt to make a marinade.
- Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Transfer to a non-metal bowl or ziplock bag, add the marinade and mix well. Leave to marinate for thirty minutes to three hours.
- While the chicken is marinating, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over a medium flame and sauté the onion until softened.
- Add the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, garlic and stir to combine. Stir in the tomato purée, then add the tomatoes, sugar and water. Simmer for about fifteen minutes, or until thickened. Blend the sauce until smooth, then set aside until the chicken is cooked.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Arrange the chicken pieces on baking trays lined with greaseproof paper.
- Bake for about twenty minutes, turning half way through so the chicken cooks evenly.
- Return the sauce to the stove. Stir in the cream, paprika and fenugreek and add the chicken. Bring to a simmer, stir in the garam masala and lemon juice. Serve with basmati rice or naan bread.