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Chicken Tikka Masala

Updated on April 20, 2011

Britain's favourite dish

The curry of kings

Chicken Tikka Masala is the most popular dish in Britain.  Forget fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, hotpot and Beef Wellington; if you’re looking for the true taste of modern Britain then look no further than a Chicken Tikka Masala! Though claimed by the Indians as one of their own, the dish is thought more likely to have originated in the UK – often attributed to restaurants in London’s Soho, Manchester or Glasgow – which began appearing on menus in the 1970s. Comprising of marinated roasted chicken in a blend of spices; it draws on influences from Punjabi cuisine for its unique blend of spice and smoothness.  Chicken Tikka Masala can be found in every Indian restaurant in the country and also appears on pub menus alongside more traditional fare.

Its young age means that Chicken Tikka Masala is still something of a work in progress and can appear in a variety of forms, from very hot to very mild and within a whole gamete of colours; from mild pink to blood red to a concerning orange. Its creamy sauce is made by adding yoghurt to the mix of spices, garlic and ginger. Traditionally served along with naan bread and rice, it is the perfect to be washed down with a pint of Kingfisher lager!   

So in case you’ve never had the real thing; you haven’t visited the UK yet or you live in the UK and you’ve been living under a rock, there’s a simple recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala below. It doesn’t require anything in the way of spices which are too difficult to get your hands on – everything should be easily available to purchase in your local supermarket – you will need:

  • Four chicken breast fillets or boned-out chicken thighs
  • Two cloves of garlic, though you can add more or less to taste
  • A small knob of ginger
  • A bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro) – though you can get away with the powdered stuff if need be
  • One lime or lemon
  • An onion or two (red or white is ok)
  • 1 tsp of turmeric, paprika and cumin
  • Chilli powder to taste
  • A cup full of plain yoghurt

Cut the chicken into 1cm cubes and throw into a bowl with the minced garlic, ginger, coriander, lime juice and mix with a bit of cooking oil. This mixture can be left for half an hour or so to marinade and have the chicken soak up the delicious concoction of flavours.

After marinating throw the chicken into a hot pan and brown it off. Remove from the pan and add the onion and cook these off. Once the onion’s transparent toss in the cumin, chilli and turmeric and cook the spices off before pouring in the yoghurt and adding the remaining lime/lemon juice. Simmer for a few more minutes and hey presto – a Chicken Tikka Masala in an hour(ish)!

Of course there’s always the possibility of buying the sauce from a jar in your local supermarket or seeking out an Indian restaurant which will deliver... but where’s the fun it that?! So settle down - have a beer or a glass of wine - and enjoy your homemade curry with a pile of rice and a naan bread.  


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      SteveAston 6 years ago from Bury, United Kingdom

      Ok I want curry now, I'm so easily swayed.