the indian chicken recipe "tikka masala" is one of the most delicious specialties of this cuisine, full of flavor, color and exoticism. the spices we will use will create a great taste, curry being a quintessence of the contrasts (salty-sweet, spicy, smooth, creamy, and crunchy). experiencing the authentic indian curry is so interesting that it deserves to make the effort to prepare after the ancient technique, instead of pouring a jar of already prepared curry sauce over the chicken.
curry is an asian dish with sauce and meat, vegetables or tofu. although all of them are called curry, is a crucial difference between an indian curry or thai and chinese one. besides the range of flavors and sauces contained in these foods, generically called "curry", each country (region) has a specific cooking style. for example, an indian curry is cooked medium, so as to not burn the base spices. the thai, chinese ones are cooked "stir fry" and this results in a crispier preparation (vegetables are "al dente"), accompanied by a specific sauce, spicy, sweet or salty, however, is unmistakable.
the indian curry brings the vegetables and meat to a final degree of baking, the meat is very soft and juicy, full of flavors and the vegetables are well cooked, forming almost a paste. as technique, an indian curry is made very simple, but must follow the added spices order.
the recipe for "chicken tikka masala" has dozens of variations, depending on the region, but almost all lead to a similar preparation, a colorful curry, red-orange with green coriander accents. the creamy vegetable sauce and sour cream embraces the chicken cubes and surprises us with a spicy taste revealed towards the end of tasting.
serve with basmati rice, pita or naan (indian bread).
the recipe below is carried out under the instructions of an indian chef ((harpal singh sochi), and the result is satisfying beyond measure, even if we made small changes to the original recipe (for lack of ingredients).
-3 chicken breast without skin and bone
- a bay leaf,
- seeds of cumin
-grains of coriander
- a cinnamon stick of 5 cm,
-green and black cardamom
-1 teaspoon and half coriander powder
-kashmiri paprika (i didn't have so i replaced with a mixture of sweet and hot paprika)
-ginger and garlic paste (from freshly ground ginger and garlic)
- red onions (5 medium onions)
-multiple-color pepper, diced
-4 tomatoes or 2 big tomatoes and 10 cherry tomatoes
-150 ml cream
-2 tablespoons cashew nut paste (i didn't have and i made almond paste, and it came out very good)
-3 tablespoons of tomato juice and a tablespoon of tomato paste (optional)
-cooking-oil (i used 2 tablespoons olive oil mixed with 2 tablespoons sunflower oil)
spices are grouped by category: woody and powder (ground).
it is very important to introduce flavors in curry, as some flavors develop more slowly, so are introduced from the beginning, while others burn if they are put in the beginning (the powder), and will be added at the middle and the end of the recipe. it's like we create a perfume: first choose a basic, subtle and prolonged woody note, then come up with the middle aromatic bouquet and in the end to give a final note, the one that is dominant at first taste but quickly lost, leaving the flavors of layers below to be felt.
the woody bouquet for this recipe is made of: a bay leaf, 3-4 cloves, a teaspoon of cumin seeds, 2 black cardamom grains and 3 green cardamom grains (i didn't have black and i put 5 of green), a small cinnamon stick, half a teaspoon of coriander seeds. i added 3-4 dried curry leaves of indian origin (although they were not in the recipe).
cut the chicken into cubes and marinate.
i chose a simple marinade: fresh lemon juice, salt and a teaspoon of garam masala (originally made with fresh yoghurt sauce and garam masala, as the main spice, and you let it for a few hours, then bake in the oven). i didn't have time, so i simply marinated with garam masala and let the chicken marinade for 30 minutes (but it was flavorful and juicy, so i give you this suggestion if you don't have time).
because i wanted to prepare the chicken as soon as possible, i marinated it at room temperature.
when chicken is ready for cooking, begin preparing the sauce alongside.
in a wok i stewed the chicken cubes without being well cooked, and, in parallel, i prepared the curry in a teflon pan.
for curry, i put 4 tablespoons of oil in pan over medium heat and, when warmed, i began to put the first spices, the woody ones: cumin seeds, bay leaf, curry leaves, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick broken into 4-5 large pieces, cardamon beans, and cloves.
stir constantly for 1-2 minutes until you feel the aromatic spices. do not increase the fire as not to burn the flavors and do not let it "fry" in oil. there must be only an "infusion" of flavors.
when you feel the aromas rising, put diced onion (3 medium onions). stir and let it brown slightly.
when the onion begins to color, add 2 teaspoons of ginger paste and garlic (this paste is specific for indian cuisine and is prepared very quickly from grated ginger and ground garlic, or if you don't have fresh ginger, use crushed garlic and a pinch of ginger powder).
mix well and allow flavors to penetrate for another minute.
then add the diced tomatoes (2 big tomatoes).
add 2-3 tablespoons of tomato juice and simmer over medium heat, stirring often.
when tomatoes are well soaked, add powdered spices: ground coriander (1 1/ 2 teaspoon), hot and sweet paprika (one teaspoon each), turmeric (half a teaspoon), pepper, a teaspoon of salt.
after simmering over low heat for another 2-3 minutes, add 2-3 tablespoons cashew nut paste (not having cashew paste, i mixed almond powder with 3 tablespoons of sour cream and got an almond paste).
mix well and add water, if the composition is too thick.
add the chicken cubes lightly browned (together with the sauce).
if you wish to thicken the sauce (since you will finally add the liquid cream), you can add a spoonful of tomato sauce.
mix and homogenize, add a teaspoon of pepper. taste the sauce and match the flavors to your preference.
after boiling another minute, add some diced decorative vegetables: first the red onion (or 2 small onions)
then add the green onion and green pepper cubes (orange and green):
and add the tomatoes at the end:
add 100 ml liquid cream and stir until the creamy sauce gets silky:
add a teaspoon of garam masala:
sprinkle with lemon juice.
mix well and turn off the heat, then add fresh cilantro (or dried).
i chose a side dish with saffron and basmati rice that complemented the tikka masala chicken.
enjoy your meal!