To make red hot chicken tikka masala for four chilli-crazed diners, you will need:
5 chicken breasts
1 cup coriander leaves
25mm fresh root ginger
6 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons garam masala
2 to 4 dry red chillies
3 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon tandoori red food colouring
1 cup plain yoghurt
6 cloves garlic
5 whole cardamom pods
2 tablespoons garam masala
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup single cream
3 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
At moments like this the heart, mind, tongue and stomach cry out for chilli and lots of it. Enter red hot chicken tikka masala. This classic from the Indian subcontinent is an over-the-top chilli blast like no other. Of course, other flavours play their part in the production, creating a meal so satisfying that it’s destined to become a weekly regular in your home.
This is a two day process. The marinade should be left overnight while the final preparation takes place on day two.Begin by deboning and removing skin from the breasts, then cut each breast into thirds. Combine the coriander, peeled ginger, peeled garlic cloves, the chillies, food colouring, lemon juice and the garam masala in a food processor. Reduce to a smooth paste.
Mix with the yoghurt. Add the chicken chunks and stir well, taking care to evenly coat all of the chicken. Cover with wrap and refrigerate overnight.Some observations: the number of dried red chillies is up to you. Go for four and enjoy the powerful blast of heat. This is an integral part of the whole experience. Take care when handling the tandoori red food colouring. It’s highly concentrated and stains everything it touches, including fingers.
Traditionally this meal is prepared in a dedicated clay oven on skewers. A simpler method is to stirfry the marinated chicken in sunflower oil at high heat, taking care to keep the bits moving to avoid burning. When cooked through, remove and reserve for later.
Now for the sauce. Select a large, heavy-bottomed, stainless steel frying pan, pour in sufficient oil to cover the bottom and fry the chopped onions and chopped garlic until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the cardamom pods, garam masala, brown sugar and the peeled, coarsely chopped tomatoes.
Lower the heat and let the ingredients cook until the tomatoes are integrated with the sauce. Let the sauce thicken, stirring from time to time to prevent burning.Add the cooked chicken pieces and stir well. Let them cook in the sauce for seven or eight minutes to allow them to reach serving heat.
Mix in the fresh cream, sprinkle some hand-torn coriander leaves and serve with plain white or basmati rice. Mix a couple of bowls of fresh plain yoghurt with sliced cucumber for those diners who can’t cope with the excitement of the chillies. Ultra-chilled lager gives this astounding meal the accompaniment it deserves. –