Chicken Tikka is a bona fide Indian Dish but the origin of the Masala sauce is said to be derived not from India but Scotland of all places. Urban legend says the invention of the Masala sauce came about In the 1960s when a Scottish man ordered Chicken Tikka in an Indian restaurant owned by a Bangladeshi chef. He soon complained that it was too dry to which the quick thinking chef tossed a tin of Campbell’s tomato soup onto the Tikka and sprinkled in some spices and a spoonful of yoghurt to appease the gentleman – and thus Chicken Tikka Masala was born.
This creamy, spice infused tomato based curry is the nations favourite dish for a reason. For a dish with a fairly complex depth of flavour, CTM is surprisingly easy to make with the majority of ingredients being pantry our fridge staples.
It's also a great curry to make for a crowd as it can be prepared in advance with the cooked chicken placed into the masala to prevent it from drying out.
For the Chicken Marinade
- Chicken 4 Breasts
- Turmeric 2 Teaspoons
- Chilli Powder 2 Teaspoons
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- Garlic 6 Cloves
- Ginger large chunk
For the Curry
- Ghee 2 Tablespoons
- Onions 3
- Cherry Tomatoes 10
- Tandoori Masala 1 Tablespoon
- Cumin 1 Teaspoon
- Garam Masala 2 Teaspoons
- Paprika 1 Teaspoon
- Coriander Powder 1 Teaspoon
- Bay Leaves 3
- Black Cardamom 4
- Tinned Tomatoes 1
- Single Cream 500ml
- Creamed Coconut 1/4 pack
- Coconut milk 1 Tin
- Chicken Stock Pot 1
- Salt 1 Tablespoon
- Brown Sugar 1 Tablespoon
- Coriander to Garnish
1. The first step is to marinade the chicken which will help tenderise the breast meat and add flavour. Cut the chicken breasts into large cubes and grate the ginger and garlic to extract maximum flavour. Add the ingredients to a mixing bowl and combine. Set aside and let marinate for at least an hour.
2. While the chicken is marinading it's time to turn attention to the masala sauce. Like most curries, the base is comprised of onions which need to be chopped as finely as possible or to save time blended in a food processor as below. I also added a handful of cherry tomatoes which will add sweetness to the base but this is entirely optional.
3. Heat 2 Tablespoons of ghee in a pot then add the onions and blended tomatoes. Cook on medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes until the onions turn golden brown and slightly caramelised.
4. Next, add the tomato puree, stir into the onions and cook for a further 5 minutes on low heat.
5. Next add the spice mixture (Tandoori Masala, Cumin, Garam Masala, Paprika, Coriander Powder, Bay Leaves, Black Cardamon) and stir ensuring that the spices don't catch.
6. Next up is to add the liquid ingredients (Tinned Tomatoes, Creamed Coconut, Coconut milk, Chicken Stock Pot) increasing the heat until the sauce comes to the boil.
7. Once the curry has started to boil place the pot on the smallest hob on the lowest setting and let the sauce reduce for 35 minutes. After this time add the cream, stir well and continue to cook on low heat until the chicken is ready to serve.
8. If you have skewers it makes for easier grilling but if not don't fret.
9. Ensure the grill is as hot as possible and cook the chicken for around 7 minutes. You could also cook the chicken in the oven if grilling isn't possible.
10. Serve the chicken with fresh basmati rice and naan bread, drizzle with the masala sauce and garnish with fresh coriander.