© David Loftus
chicken tikka masala
This is a really popular curry dish that loads of people order from their local curry houses at the weekend. If you’ve ever thought of making it at home you may have been slightly mystified about how to make it taste so good, but have a go at this recipe and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. The great thing about it is that if you don’t fancy chicken you can try using lamb instead, because it’s cooked separately from the sauce.
Grate the garlic and ginger on the finest side of a cheese grater and put to one side in a bowl. Chop the chillies as finely as you can and mix them in with the ginger and garlic. Heat a good splash of oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add them to the ginger and garlic mixture along with the paprika, cumin, ground coriander and 2 tablespoons of the garam masala. Put half of this mix in a bowl, add the yogurt and the chicken pieces to it, stir and leave to marinate for half an hour or so.
Melt the butter in the saucepan the mustard seeds were in and add the sliced onions and the remaining half of the spice mix. Cook gently for 15 minutes or so without browning too much – it should start to smell fantastic! Add the tomato purée, the ground nuts, 2 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt. Stir well and simmer gently for a few minutes. Let this sauce reduce until it thickens slightly and then place to one side.
Put the marinaded chicken on a hot griddle pan or barbecue and sear until cooked through – you can also do this under a preheated broiler if you like. Warm the sauce and add the cream and the other tablespoon of garam masala. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary. As soon as it boils, take off the heat and add the grilled chicken. Check the seasoning once more and serve sprinkled with the chopped cilantro and the lime juice. Then all you need is a huge bowl of steaming basmati rice, some poppadums and lots of cold beer!
• 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
• 3 inches of fresh ginger, peeled
• 2–3 fresh red chillies, deseeded
• olive oil
• 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
• 1 tablespoon paprika
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons ground cilantro
• 3 tablespoons garam masala
• generous ³⁄₄ cup plain yogurt
• 4 medium chicken breasts, skinned and cut into large chunks
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 2 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
• 2 tablespoons tomato purée
• a small handful of ground cashew nuts or almonds
• sea salt
• ¹⁄₂ cup heavy cream
• a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
• juice of 1–2 limes