There is nothing better than tucking into a warm plate of comfort food after a hard day and what better way to satisfy this craving than with a classic chicken tikka masala?

Chicken tikka is a classic Indian dish but chicken tikka masala was created in England but Indian chefs to cater for our love of sauces.

If you’re going to try this authentic recipe, a warning: the chicken needs to marinate for at least six to eight hours.

Ingredients

For the chicken tikka:

  • 675g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2½ centimetre chunks
  • 1¼ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp peeled, finely grated root ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½–¾ tsp chilli powder
  • 6 tbsp whipping cream
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 3 tbsp olive or sunflower oil

For the masala:

  • 4 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
  • 140g onions, halved and sliced
  • 1 tbsp peeled, finely grated root ginger
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp tumeric
  • ¾ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 4 tbsp yoghurt
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and very finely chopped
  • 350 ml chicken stock
  • ¼ tsp salt, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Method

  1. Start by marinating the chicken tikka. Put the chicken in a non-reactive bowl and rub in the salt and lemon juice. Prod the chicken pieces lightly with the tip of a knife and rub the seasonings in again, then set aside for 20 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, paprika, chilli powder, cream and garam masala. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate for six to eight hours (longer will not hurt).
  2. When you’re ready to cook, make the masala: pour the 4 tablespoons of oil into a large, preferably non-stick, lidded pan and set it over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the onions. Stir and fry until they brown, six or seven minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and continue to fry, stirring, for a minute. Add the ground coriander, turmeric, chilli powder and paprika. Stir for 10 seconds, then add a tablespoon of the yogurt. Stir and fry until it is absorbed. Add the remaining yogurt in this way, a tablespoon at a time.
  3. Now put in the tomatoes. Fry them for three or four minutes, or until they turn pulpy. Add the stock and salt, and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 15–20 minutes. The sauce should turn thick. Stir in the garam masala and coriander leaves, taste for balance of seasonings and add more salt if you need it.
  4. Shortly before you eat, preheat the grill to its highest setting. Thread the chicken on to two to four skewers (the flat, sword-like ones are best). Brush with the 3 tablespoons of oil and balance the skewers on the rim of a shallow baking tray, so that the meat is suspended and does not touch the tray. Place about 13 centimetres (5 inches) from the source of heat and grill for six minutes on each side, or until lightly browned, cooked through and charred in places. (Cut a large piece of chicken to the centre to check there is no trace of pink.)
  5. When the tikkas are cooked, reheat the sauce and fold in the chicken. Serve immediately.

Bon appetite!

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