If I'm being honest, chicken tikka masala was not entirely what I set out to make when I started making this dish. The truth is that I actually didn't know what I was going to make, I just knew that I had enough spices and a good tomato sauce as a base which would turn some chicken thighs into something tasty. I guess that says a lot about the kind of cook I am; confident, relaxed and not fearful of the outcome so long as I have good basic ingredients.
I particularly love the flavours of this curry as the sauce is intensely rich and tomatoey with a gentle spice and a more round, authentic flavour than shop/takeaway bought chicken tikka masalas. Granted the tikka masala is not actually Indian, but in fact a British creation... whatever it's origin, we love it and for good reason too. My simple recipe means you can make this classic at home, which certainly beats any other version of chicken tikka masala.
Chicken Tikka Masala (Serves 4)
- 500g skinless and boneless chicken thighs
- 2 medium white onions, diced (You don't need to be too exact/meticulous here)
- 6 inches of fresh ginger, finely grated
- 100g tomato puree
- 350g of FRESH tomato sauce (you can follow my RECIPE for basic tomato sauce or buy ready made fresh pasta sauces in supermarkets)
- 1 heaped teaspoon of yellow mustard seeds
- 4 heaped teaspoons of turmeric powder
- 2 heaped teaspoons of garam masala
- 6 heaped teaspoons of mild curry powder
- 1 heaped teaspoon of cumin powder
- 2 heaped teaspoons of cayenne powder (or 1 if you prefer no heat)
- 2 heaped teaspoons of garlic granules
- 1 Knorr chicken stock pot portions (you know, the ones that Marco Pierre-White pimps on TV) or just a good chicken stock cube
- 1 heaped teaspoon of caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons of double cream
- 120g of 'Total' full fat Greek yoghurt
- Cooking oil
In a large non stick cooking pot over a medium-high heat (or medium heat if using gas) drizzle a generous amount of oil and add you onions and cook them through. If you see them starting to brown, then turn the heat down as you don't want to caramelise them, you just want to cook them properly until they are soft and translucent. Add your mustard seeds and stir well at which point they will begin to pop. Then add your spices, one at a time, stirring the powders well into the onions. You will find that you will need to add a little more oil at this stage as the spices tend to soak up the moisture of the pan, but once you have added all the spices, I would add half a mug of hot water instead of extra oil. Stir the mix well before adding your tomato puree. Tomato puree needs to be 'cooked out' so really stir the contents of the pan well and again, if the pan is dry, add just a little more hot water before ensuring that the puree is thoroughly incorporated.
Once the tomato puree has been cooking for 5 minutes or so, add your skinless and boneless chicken thighs (whole) into the pan and coat them in the onion and spice mix, giving it a good stir. Add your fresh tomato sauce, sugar and chicken stock and again stir well, before pouring enough hot water into the pan to cover the chicken generously. Stir well, reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid and allow to cook for 45 minutes-1 hour. Check every 15 minutes to give the mix a quick stir to prevent the bottom from burning.
Once the cooking time is up, stir in the double cream (gently so you dont break up the chicken too much) and then stir in your Greek yoghurt. Finish by allowing to simmer for another 10 minutes, before serving with basmati rice. Heaven! You can also freeze this curry in an air tight container and it will be just as good to enjoy at a later time.