The word tikka means pieces, chunks or bits. Chicken tikka masala is chunks of spicy marinated chicken pieces grilled and simmered in a rich, red, spicy tomato based sauce. Its a staple on any Indian restaurant menu.
1 kg. boneless chicken breast, skinned, boned and cut into bite size pieces
- 200 gm. natural yoghurt. Creamy yoghurt is better.
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp. coriander powder
- 1/4 tsp. chilli powder (adjust to taste)
- Juice of 1 lemon/lime
- 2 tsp Kashmiri cilli powder for colour (I do not use artificial colouring in this dish).
- 1-2 tbsp. Kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves), crushed
- 12 cashew nuts, ground to a paste (optional)
- Salt to taste
- 1-2 tbsp. oil
- 2-3 brown cardamoms
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon
- 2 medium onions peeled and thinly sliced
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed or grated
- 1 inch root ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1 tbsp. tomato purée
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- A handful of coriander leaves
Wash and drain chicken pieces.
Mix all marinade ingredients in a large bowl, mix to make a paste.
Add chicken pieces, mix to coat and marinate overnight or for at least a few hours. Keep in an airtight container. Allow it to return to room temperature before cooking.
Traditionally, marinated chicken is cooked on a barbecue/tandoor or in a preheated grill or a very hot oven (maximum temperature) first and then added to the sauce , but I shallow fried the marinated chicken and added to the sauce.
Making Tikka Sauce & Cooking Chicken
Heat oil in a large wok or pan. Add cumin, cardamoms, bay leaves and cinnamon stick. As soon as cumin seeds crackle add onion, ginger and garlic and fry until nicely browned.
Add Tomatoes and tomato purée and cook for a few minutes.
Finishing the dish
Add the cooked/uncooked chicken pieces and its marinade to the above sauce, stir fry on high heat for 6-7 minutes.
Continue to cook briskly until the sauce thickens and the chicken is tender (pre-cooked chicken will require less time). If the gravy looks too thick, you may need to add a little water or chicken stock. If it is too thin and you can't thicken it easily, add a teaspoon or two of corn flour dissolved in cold water and bring to boil. The sauce should be of custard like consistency.
Taste and adjust spices and salt.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with Nan, Roti and Plain Pulao sliced onion salad and slices of fresh lime.