Sunday, January 30, 2011

Curry: Tikka Masala

This recipe is taken out of my Ultimate Curry Bible cookbook that you can get here. It has so much historical information about Curries and is a really fascinating cookbook. Someday I'm going to these places and eating the real deal in person.

Don't be intimidated by the ingredients. You CAN do it!!!

Heat Level: To me this is about a 4 if you add the full amount of cayenne pepper. We have little kiddos that need to eat somewhat what I am cooking so I scaled it way back. In the end Matthew only ate the chicken so if you have kids or a sensitive palate yourself you can do these options:

1-Leave out the Cayenne pepper completely. It will affect the flavor slightly but I think it would still taste good.
2-Leave pepper out of the chicken and put the full amount in the sauce. This way the kids can eat the meat and rice and Naan bread if having but not have the sauce. I'll be doing that next time so Matthew's mouth won't burn, but we can enjoy some nice sinus cleansing. :)
3-Reduce the amount in both places. I did that and it still tasted good, but I missed the burning sensation in my mouth.

Today's Ingredients: (you'll use most of the spices in the curry and kebabs)
Curry Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, sliced into fine half-rings
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed to a pulp
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons bright red paprika
4 tablespoons natural yogurt (I forgot it in the picture)
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and very finely chopped
12 fluid oz chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt, more if the stock is unsalted
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Freshly made Silken Chicken 'Tikka' Kebabs

Tikka Kebabs
1-1/2 lb boned and skinned chicken breasts, cut into 2½ cm/1-inch pieces
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and very finely grated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed to a pulp
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon bright red paprika
1/2-3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon garam masala

You can definitely eat these kebabs on their own with a little rice and some Naan bread or add to a pita. They are so good and juicy.

Optional Ingredients to complete the meal:
-Basmati Rice - you can use regular rice, but Basmati has a nice flavor that is different from any other rice. It is used in conjunction with Indian Curries.
-Naan Bread - If you can't find then use Pitas as a substitute. I recently found some Naan at an Asian market that tasted like the real thing from my favorite restaurant.

First up you are going to be marinading your chicken for 6-8 hours or even overnight. Longer doesn't hurt these babies, just makes them yummier.

First dice your chicken into chunks. You are going to pour the lemon juice and salt over the chicken and stir it well and let it sit for 20 min.

After the chicken is done sitting add the garlic, ginger, spices and whipping cream.

A quick note about the ginger. It's kindof weird looking and will last forever. Just break off a piece, peel it and grate it. I used my zester grater after peeling the ginger and did enough at one time for both recipes. This will save you time later on if you do it this way.

Mix it all together and set it in the fridge and let it marinade. smells SO good!

Once you are getting closer to dinner time it's time to start prepping the curry. It calls for peeling and finely dicing the tomatoes. I had never done this before this cookbook, but the reason is they need to cook down and get pulpy and the skin just gets in the way. I've had these tomatoes in my fridge for a few weeks so they were nice and soft (not overripe) and I literally just peeled the skin off. In the past I've used a paring knife to get the skin off. Either way works.

Once you slice and dice finely make sure you just scoop up the flesh of the tomato and leave as many seeds as you can behind.

Next prep everything else: Thinly slice the onion into half rings. I did this by cutting the onion in half and then slicing into thin rings. It calls for the garlic to be mashed to a pulp. I just peeled them and put them through my garlic press and then smushed them some more with the edge of my knife. Chop your cilantro - optional, you can do also this at the end. My ginger was just sitting there ready from when I prepped it for my marinade.

I should have prepped the following (you'll see why below - I recommend you do):
-Put your ground coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper and paprika in a bowl together.
-Have your 4 tablespoons plain yogurt measured out in a small bowl
-Have your chicken stock measured out and ready to go.

Reason being: The first part of this recipe cooks really fast and the ingredients get added quickly right after another. If you are worrying about measuring out your ingredients you can easily burn the ingredients (see MY picture below). You don't want burned onions, garlic or ginger as it could ruin the whole recipe. I promise you'll be glad you prepped your ingredients.

Starting the curry sauce: Add 2 tablespoons oil (the original recipe called for 4, but I think 2 works just fine) to a heavy pan. Once it's hot add your onions.

Stir quickly for 6-7 min. until they are red in color. Do not burn them (easy to do so keep stirring). My stove was on medium-high, but I think it really should be on medium. You can see a few burnt onions. It's tricky trying to cook and take pictures sometimes.

Once it's nice and softened, add the ginger and garlic and stir for a minute.

Add the spices you've combined in a bowl.

Stir for 10 seconds. The bottom of your pan should NOT look like this. This is what happens when your heat is too high. Some of my spices burned to the bottom of the pan. Luckily they stayed stuck to the pan and didn't end up loosening up in the curry, which could have made it bitter. Poor Jordan is the dish doer and this is going to take some elbow grease to get clean.

Next start adding the yogurt one tablespoon at a time until absorbed and then add the next tablespoon and repeat until the yogurt is all absorbed.

Next add your tomatoes and cook for 3-4 min. until they turn pulpy. Keep mashing them up with the back of your spoon until they are pretty much all pulverized.

Add the stock and the salt and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15-20 min. to reduce slightly and thicken up. At this point you should start your rice (basmati) cooking, start your grill for the kebabs, thread your kebabs onto skewers and get your oven started for heating your bread.

Once your grill is ready then cook the kebabs on each side for about 6 min.

We have used wooden skewers in the past, but couldn't find them today (MIA from moving like many other things) and so we bought some metal ones. If you use wooden ones make sure to soak for at least 1 hour so they don't burn up and disinegrate on the grill. I am IN LOVE with metal ones though and am never going back. Super easy to thread and take back off the kebab and we can just wash and reuse.

If you don't have an outdoor grill you can either try a grill pan, broiling them in the oven, or just cooking in a pan until cooked through. I haven't tried any of these methods but I'm sure they would work. I understand that not everyone has an outdoor grill or is allowed to have one. We didn't have our grill until about 3 years ago.

Once your kebabs come off the grill cover them in foil and let sit for about 5 min. so they don't lose their juiciness. Add the cilantro and garam masala to the sauce.

Mix all together.

If using Naan bread, get it in the oven to heat through.

Take the kebabs off the skewers and throw in the curry sauce

Don't forget to set some chicken aside for your kids without the sauce if you're worried about them liking the curry sauce. I can almost guarantee they'll gobble up these chicken bites of wonderfulness.

Stir around until nicely coated. Your rice should be done and the Naan bread heated up.

Put together on a plate and enjoy a wonderful homecooked Indian meal that costs a fraction of going to a GOOD Indian restaurant. I guarantee this will blow away any jarred curry sauce you may be eating!

Tikka Masala


  1. The recipe I've been waiting for. Thanks!

  2. I used to buy the costco tub to add to my chicken, but I love being able to make something so gourmet myself! I will give this a try! Thanks for posting!