English Chicken Tikka Masala

Pronounced (Tee-kuh Muh-saal-uh), this is another popular English dish of Indian origin. The story goes that during the British occupation of India, a British aristocrat was served Chicken Tikka (skewered chicken grilled in a super-hot clay tandoori oven) and complained that it was too dry and ordered that it go back to the kitchen. An annoyed yet respectful chef angrily tossed the same chicken pieces in a creamy curry sauce and sent it back out, which was an immediate success. The dish soon made its way the England where it was quickly absorbed into English cuisine.

This dish is most authentic when the yogurt marinated chicken cubes are baked in a tandoori oven or hot grill to get that charred, smokey flavor. If only an oven is available, finishing the dish under the broiler works perfectly.

Chicken Tikka Masala

This is a great curry for the spice adverse. Soft charred chicken pieces nestled in a gentle creamy curry makes for a wonderful, mild dish. Be sure to blend the cooked onions, garlic, and ginger, as well as marinate the chicken at least 4 hours. The dish can be made in advance and refrigerated a few days or frozen a few months. Serve with plain rice and Naan bread.
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Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: British, England, Indian, North Indian
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Marinating: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Large pot with lid
  • Baking pan and wire rack, if broiling instead of grilling
  • Small bowl
  • Medium bowl, whisk
  • Mini-food processor or blender

Ingredients

  • 8 medium Chicken thighs, skinless and boneless.
  • 2 tbsp Ground garam masala
  • 3 tsp Ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp Hot paprika or 2 tsp sweet paprika with 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tsp Ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp Ground coriander
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp Fresh ground black pepper
  • 10 cloves Garlic, crushed
  • 3 inch Piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 6 pieces and crushed
  • 2 cups Whole milk yogurt
  • ½ cup Fresh lemon juice (4 lemons)
  • large Yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp Butter or ghee
  • 28 oz Can peeled whole tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp Tomato paste
  • 2 cup Cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Instructions

  • Marinate Chicken – Make spice mix in a small bowl by combining garam masala, turmeric, cumin, paprika, 2 tsp kosher salt, and 2 tsp black pepper.
    In a medium bowl, whisk 1¼ cup yogurt, lemon juice, half of the minced garlic and ginger. Whisk in half the spice mixture and then add all the chicken pieces. Massage everything to be sure chicken is fully coated. Chill in the refrigerator between 4 and 8 hours.
  • Prepare Curry – Heat butter or ghee in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5-8 minutes. Add remaining garlic, ginger, and spice mix and stir for an additional 2 minutes. Cool slightly and scoop into a food processor blender. Process until almost smooth.
    Crush tomatoes with your hand and pour along with liquid into pot. Add in cream, 1 cup water, and the contents of the blender or processor. Season to taste and scrape up any bits from the bottom. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until sauce has reduced a little, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat, cover, and cook chicken.
  • Cook Chicken – Grill or broil chicken.
    To grill – Heat grill for 5 minutes with top down. Wipe marinade from chicken and place pieces over the hot side. Cook about 7 minutes on one side hoping for a little char and then flip and grill another 2-3 minutes.
    To Broil – Heat broiler to high and adjust top rack to top position. Scrape off marinade and place chicken on a wire rack set over a baking pan covered in foil. Broil until lightly charred in spots, about 5 to 7 minutes, then flip and broil another 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Finish Tikka Masala – Bring curry base to a simmer. Cut chicken into 2-inch cubes and add to pot along with remain yogurt. Simmer for about about 15 minutes to thicken the sauce.
    Put in a serving bowl or individual serving bowls, sprinkle some parsley over and serve with naan or rice to soak up the sauce.

Notes

  • 1 pound skinless chicken breast can replace 1 pound of thigh but they may dry out easily. To keep as moist as possible, use kosher or another brined chicken and don’t remove the bones until cubing the chicken for the final cook.

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