There are a couple of myths surrounding this dish. First of all, Christopher Columbus wasn’t this brilliant mind who knew earth was round while everyone else in the world thought it was flat. People knew the earth was round at the time, it wasn’t really disputed. No, the reason Christopher Columbus had troubled financing his voyage was because he claimed the earth was much smaller than it actually was. So he though he’d quickly reach India from the other side. Of course, the astronomers at the time knew very well how big earth is, so they kept telling Columbus he was talking out of his ass. Didn’t stop Columbus though, he managed to get the monarch of Spain to pay for his voyage. And the guy ended up in America because… Yeah, earth was as big as the astronomers kept telling him. The second myth surrounding this dish, is that it’s not really Indian. It’s British. But hey… Tasty nonetheless. By the way, tikka means chicken. So Chicken Tikka Masala means Chicken Chicken Masala.
First of all, prepare the bread…
- 100 g of milk
- 6 g of caster sugar
- 12 g of fresh yeast (or 6 gram of dry yeast)
- 300 g plain flour (that’s about 5,5 dl)
- 2,5 g of salt (that’s about two pinches)
- 20 g of vegetable oil
- 100 g of fat natural yogurt, such as Greek or Turkish style yoghurt with at least 10% fat content
- 1 egg
- Basically, mix everything together. You don’t have to kneed it really.
- Cover dough and let rest in refrigerator over night
- or… If you really need the bread right away, today, heat up the milk enough that you can put a finger in it without scolding yourself. And follow step 1 using the heated milk. Then leave the dough covered in room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to the maximum possible setting you have on it. In India, they use this really hot tandoori oven, and smash the breads into the sides of the oven, and heat just radiates over them from all sides. You don’t have such an oven at home, I guess, so just use your regular oven on max setting. And put a cast iron pan into it and let it heat up as well.
- Cut the dough into about 8 pieces, and on a floured surface, roll out the pieces into flat somewhat round naan breads
- Take out the hot pan from the oven, and don’t burn yourself! Add a splash of oil and put the bread on the pan and back into the oven. After about a minute or two, depending on how hot your oven is, the bread will puff upp and it’s done! But hey, do this step just before serving, you want the bread straight from the oven.
Chicken, marinade and sauce
We’ll use the same mix of spices as a base for the marinade and for the sauce.
Ingredients for the tikka masala
- A teaspoon of cumin seeds, crushed in a mortar
- Fresh ginger the size of two thumbs
- A teaspoon of paprika (I use a smoked one because I like it)
- A teaspoon of black pepper
- Fresh turmeric the size of one thumb (if you can’t obtain fresh one, use powered one but it won’t taste as good, it’ll mostly just be for the beautiful yellow color)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 little chilli (or more, if you want it more spicy)
- Pinch of salt to taste
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- About 5 of tablespoons of fat yoghurt (we’re talking 10% fat)
- A lot of butter (Like 6 tablespoons!)
- Tomato sauce (passata al pomodoro)
- Fresh coriander
- 2,5 dl of fresh cream
- 4 chicken filets
- Grind the spices in a mortar.
- Grate garlic, turmeric and ginger.
- Use half of 1 and 2 for the marinade, and leave the rest for the sauce. So, combine half of it with the lemon juice and yoghurt. Cut the chicken into nice cubes, and cover them with the yoghurt marinade. Leave the in the refrigerator over night.
- On the day of eating, fry the second half of the spice mix in a saucepan with tons of butter. Like, 4 tablespoons of butter! When it starts smelling all good, but without burning the spices, you add the tomato sauce, and let it simmer until the liquid has reduced by about 20%.
- Add cream, salt to taste, and cover on low heat until it’s time to serve.
- Set the oven to C 180 degrees.
- In a big cast iron (preferably) frying pan, add a lot of butter (like… 2 tablespoons!) and let it melt.
- Add chicken to the pan. The chicken is all covered in marinade, and all wet, it won’t get any color at the moment. Don’t worry. Stick a thermometer in one of the pieces and then put the pan into the oven. When the inner temperature of the chicken pieces has reached C 75 degrees, they’re done. Remove them from the oven.
- Now, what do we do about the pale chicken that is perfectly done inside? We give it some color using a blowtorch. If you don’t have a blowtorch, you can heat up some oil in a pan and just let the chicken pieces touch it for a couple of seconds until the get a nice crust.
- Serve sauce with chicken, topped with a little salt and freshly chopped coriander, and a fresh naan bread on the side. Absolutely marvellous!