Serving
(click to enlarge)

Chicken Tikka Masala
India / United Kingdom (UK)
  -   Murgh Tikka Masala
Serves:
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
5 w/rice  
***
5+ hrs  
Yes

From Punjab (see Note-6), this is now one of the most popular dishes in the United Kingdom - second only to Chinese stir fry. English cooking has largely fallen from favor (Fish & Chips they got from the Italians). Recipes vary. This one may look complex, but it's really not difficult, and preparation can be spread over several days (see Note-5).
Variations: Tikka Masala is also made with Lamb, Fish and Paneer Cheese instead of Chicken.



1-1/2
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1/4
2
1
1
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1
1/2
1/2
1/3
1/2
1
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8
1/4
14
1
1
1/2
3/4
1/2
1/3
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#
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c
T
T
cl
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T
T
t
t
T
t
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oz
c
oz
in

c
c
t
c
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Chicken meat (1)  
-- Marinade
Yogurt (2)
Oil (3)
Lemon Juice
Garlic
-- Spices
Coriander seed
Cumin seed
Cardamom, black
Nutmeg
Paprika
Salt
-- Sauce mix
Onion
Butter
Tomato purée (4)
Ginger
Chili Serrano
Cream, heavy
Water (4)
Pepper, black
Cilantro
-- Garnish
Cilantro sprigs
Chicken   -   (3+ hrs - 20 min work)
This step fakes up having leftover Tandoori Chicken (tikka means pieces, masala for the spicy sauce)
  1. Prepare CHICKEN as described in Note-1.
  2. Mix all Marinade items and massage into Chicken. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours, massaging now and then. I marinade in a sealed plastic bag which makes handling and massaging very easy.
  3. Shake off excess Marinade from Chicken. In a preheated broiler (on a rack), on the grill, or in a frying pan (with a little oil), roast Chicken until blackened in spots (just browned well if fried in a pan). I use the broiler as that is very effective and takes the least attention.
  4. Cut Chicken into chunks, about 1-1/2 inches on a side.
Sauce   -   (30 min)
  1. Chop ONIONS fine.
  2. In a coverable sauté pan large enough for the whole recipe, heat Butter and fry Onions over moderate heat until there is a fair amount are dark brown.
  3. Meanwhile:   Grind together all SPICES.
  4. Prepare TOMATO PURÉE as needed (see Note-4).
  5. Grate GINGER. Chop CHILI fine. Mix both with Tomato Purée.
  6. When Onions are ready:   Stir in Spice mix, Tomato mix, Cream and Water. Bring to a simmer and simmer about 5 minutes. At this point the sauce can be held refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days, waiting for the chicken.
Finish   -   (45 min)
  1. Stir in Chicken and continue to simmer until Chicken is cooked through and tender - this can vary, but will probably be about 30 minutes. Adjust liquid as needed by adding boiled water or simmering uncovered. The sauce should finish quite liquid. If you will be reheating before serving, be sure the chicken is not overcooked. The Masala can now be cooled and refrigerated for up to three days in a sealed container.
  2. Chop Cilantro small.
  3. Reheat the Masala gently to a simmer if it has been held cold. Check for Salt.
  4. Take off heat. Stir in Cilantro and Pepper.
  5. Serve hot with Naan Bread or steamed Basmati rice.
NOTES:
  1. Chicken:   Weight is skinless, boneless and fat removed. Julie Sahni's recipe calls for breasts pounded to 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. For better flavor, I use deboned and skinless thigh meat with shallow slashes on the rough side. Most recipes for Tandoori Chicken call for slashes.
  2. Yogurt:   Some sources call for "Plain Greek Yogurt", others call for "Plain Full Fat (not Greek)", so take your pick. I used Trader Joe's "Plain Greek" which is just a little thicker than the regular yogurt I use.
  3. Oil:   I use Pure Olive Oil (not virgin), but Peanut Oil, Avocado Oil or a similar durable high temperature oils can be used.
  4. Tomato Purée:   This can be obtained several ways. Simplest is a 14 oz can of tomato purée. You can also use a 14 oz can of Diced or Crushed Tomatoes and a tablespoon of Tomato Paste, puréed together in a food processor, or 1 pound Fresh Tomatoes and 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste, puréed in a food processor.
  5. Do Ahead:   Making this recipe can be spread over as many as 6 days. First make the sauce, up to stirring in the Chicken. This can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days. Cook the chicken and simmer it in the reheated sauce, making sure it isn't over-done. This can now be kept refrigerated in a sealed container for another 3 days.
  6. History:   Many claim this recipe originated in the United Kingdom, particularly in Scotland around 1971. Others, including über expert Julie Sahni, attribute it to Punjab, possibly a way to use up leftover tandoori chicken (chicken is expensive in India). There is a recipe for Chicken Masala in Mrs Balbir Singh's Indian Cookery, published in England in 1961, which is close to current practice. This recipe is thought by historians to be the ultimate source. I have the 1973 revision in which it is called Makhani Murgh. Mrs Singh was writing in Punjab, not Scotland. My recipe here is based mainly on elements from Julie Sahni and Mrs. Balbir Singh. For Indian cooking there are no sources more authoritative.
  7. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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