Without question, chicken tikka masala is a brilliant curry that makes people very happy. Of course it’s inspired by fantastic Indian cooking, but is in fact an Anglo-Indian evolution, created to suit British palates.
When you make it, you’ll be super-proud – you can use top-quality chicken, it’s loads of fun to marinate and grill, the method rocks, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll find a better expression. I love to make my own paratha breads to serve with it too. Dig a hole in the garden and get grilling!
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
1 level teaspoon ground cloves
1 level teaspoon ground cumin
2 heaped teaspoons each of sweet smoked paprika and garam masala
6 cloves of garlic
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
6 heaped tablespoons
800g skinless boneless
3 fresh green or yellow chillies
For the sauce
4 cloves of garlic
1–2 fresh red chillies
1 bunch of fresh coriander (30g)
1 level tablespoon ground
2 level teaspoons turmeric
6 tablespoons ground almonds
2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
1 chicken stock cube
2 x 400g tins of light coconut milk
Put the cloves, cumin and one heaped teaspoon each of paprika and garam masala into a small pan and toast for one minute to bring them back to life, then tip into a large bowl.
Finely grate in the zest of 1 lemon, squeeze in all its juice, crush in the garlic, peel and finely grate in the ginger, and add the yoghurt and 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
Cut the chicken breasts into 5cm chunks, then massage all that flavour into the meat. Skewer up the chicken chunks, interspersing them with lemon wedges and chunks of green or yellow chilli, but don’t squash them together too much.
Place on a tray, cover with clingfilm and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
For the sauce, peel the onions and garlic, then finely slice with the red chillies and coriander stalks (reserving the leaves for later).
Put it all into a large casserole pan on a medium-high heat with a lug of oil and cook for around 20 minutes, or until golden, stirring regularly.
Add the ground coriander, turmeric and remaining one heaped teaspoon each of paprika and garam masala. Cook for two minutes, then add and toast the almonds.
Pour in the tomatoes, crumble in the stock cube and add 300ml of boiling water. Simmer for five minutes, then stir in the coconut milk. Simmer for a final 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, then season to perfection.
When you’re ready to cook the chicken, drizzle it with a little oil, then grill on a hot barbecue, in a screaming hot griddle pan or under a hot grill, turning until it’s very golden and gnarly on all sides.
Slice the chicken off the skewers straight into the sauce, reserving the lemons. Simmer for two minutes while you use tongs to squeeze some jammy lemons over the curry, to taste.
Swirl through some more yoghurt, sprinkle with the coriander leaves, and serve with parathas or fluffy basmati rice.
Jamie’s Comfort Food by Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Books, priced at £30. Click here to buy