Chicken Tikka Masala
What is the “national dish” of Great Britain? Bangers and mash? Beef Wellington? Roast of beef with Yorkshire Pudding? Fish and Chips? Bubble and Squeak? Shepherds Pie? Ploughman’s Lunch? Steak and Kidney Pie? Some kind of herb infused meat stew or boiled concoction?
National dishes are so labeled because of their popularity versus origin. In Great Britain, the “national” or most popular dish is an Indo-British hybrid, Chicken Tikka Masala. It is a result of the British love of curry dishes and “gravy”.
Like many popular dishes, its origins are unknown. It is speculated the dish was developed by Bangladeshi cooks after some Brits claimed their curry chicken was too dry. Tomato sauce was added to make it a stew.
Whatever the origin, the dish, and its variations, became popular and is served all over the British Isles. Like most popular dishes, there are an overwhelming number of recipes to choose from.
The dish is a combination of spices, herbs, tomato products, and dairy. It is known for its orange color. Chicken Tikka Masala is usually served with rice and naan, and Indian bread. You can substitute tortillas or Pita.
This recipe is adapted from two different sources. It uses yogurt as the dairy product. The spice mix came from my local spice merchant. Middle East, Asian, and Indian stores sell premixed Tikki Masala in dry or paste form.
A recipe is provided bellow if you want to make your own spice mix.
There are different ways to prepare Chicken Tikka Masala but there are really only three methods, dry rub, wet rub/marinade, and yogurt marinade.
This recipe uses the yogurt marinade. The dry and wet rub methods are described at the end.
6- Tbsp. Tikka Masala spice mix or half of the homemade mix below.
4 cups yogurt
2-3 pounds boneless chicken thighs, breast, or combo of thighs and breasts cut in half.
2 Tbsp. Canola or other bland cooking oil. If you can find ghee, use it instead.
1- small onion diced
1- 6 oz. can tomato paste
1- 28 oz. can whole or crushed tomatoes
Rice cooked (2 cups of rice should yield more than enough for 4 people.)
2 cups frozen peas, thawed (Optional)
Cilantro or basil leaves chopped for rice garnish
Mix three tablespoons of spices with 2 cups yogurt. Place chicken and yogurt in a deep dish or plastic bag along with yogurt. Marinate for six hours or over night.
Remove chicken from marinade, place on a sheet or broiler pan, and allow it to come to room temperature.
In a sauce pan over medium heat, add oil and onion with a small pinch of salt. Sweat onion.
Add the rest of the spice mixture and stir.
Add tomato paste and stir for two minutes. If it starts to stick add a bit of water.
Stir in canned tomato product.
When sauce comes to temperature stir in remaining yogurt, lower heat to simmer.
Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Place chicken under the broiler until it starts to blacken. About 2-4 minutes. You can also place the chicken on a hot griddle or grill until just blackened. The chicken should not be fully cooked.
Cut chicken into bite size cubes (about 1 inch) and place in sauce.
Simmer for 30-45 minutes until chicken is fully cooked.
Serve with rice or rice and peas, garnished with cilantro or basil.
Tikka Masala seasoning:
6 garlic cloves fine diced
4 teaspoons grated peeled ginger
4 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon kosher salt
6 cardamom pods, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper. Add more if you like heat.
Dry and wet rub:
To dry rub, rub the chicken with the spice mix and refrigerate for several hours or over night. For the wet rub marinade, use a small amount of oil with half the spice mix to form a wet paste. Coat the chicken and refrigerate for several hours or over night. For both of these it is recommended you wear gloves.