Heston’s Chicken Tikka Masala (almost) (Indian #4)

I don’t know how I decided to make this for my Indian “month”. In a way, I’m not quite sure that Chicken Tikka Masala qualifies as Indian, as there different stories about where it was first created; most of them agree it was in the UK. Recently though, chefs in India have starting endorsing it and making their own versions; its appeal to the rest of the world hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Having lived in the UK for 7 years now, it’s a bit strange that I had never had a Chicken Tikka Masala before I made this version. I think I have made up for it though, since this isn’t any version: it is Heston Blumenthal’s recipe from his In Search of Perfection series. In the book, which is quite a good read even if you never cook from it, he describes how he built his own Tandoori oven and came to Cambridge to use an MRI scanner on some chicken breasts.

As you can probably guess, I didn’t follow all of the instructions.

Chicken Tikka Masala (adapted* from Heston’s In Search of Perfection)

For the rub:

4 bulbs of garlic
50 gr olive oil
50 gr ginger
5 gr salt
8 chicken thighs/legs, bones and skins removed and meat sliced into bite-sized pieces

Pop the garlic and ginger in the food processor and add the olive oil and salt to make a paste. Rub the chicken with it and place in the fridge for 3-5 hours.

For the yoghurt marinade

20 gr ghee
20 gr chickpea flour (or normal flour, or a mix with cornflour)
40 gr olive oil
8 gr chilli powder
350 gr Greek-style yoghurt
10 gr garam masala

First, make a roux by melting the ghee in a pan, adding the flour and frying for a bit until the flour is cooked. Put in a plate and let cool.
Then, fry the olive oil with the chilli powder for 2-3 minutes. Move to a bowl and mix together with the roux, the yoghurt and the garam masala (basically everything together!).

Brush most of the rub off the chicken and cover it in the marinade. Leave in the fridge for a few hours, up to 10 if possible.

Remove any extra yoghurt, place on a grill or baking tray and grill under a medium heat until cooked through with a few charred spots on the outside. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce:

For the Masala sauce

5 gr coriander seeds
5 gr cumin seeds
1 kg fresh tomatoes (or good quality canned)
40 gr tomato puree
100 gr water
50 gr ghee
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 onions, sliced
25 gr ginger, chopped finely
salt to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric

Toast the coriander and cumin seeds, add the tomatoes and water and cook until reduced. Strain everything through a sieve.

In a frying pan, melt the ghee, add the chilli powder and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the onions, ginger and salt and cook until soft. Add the tomato puree, the sieved tomatoes and the turmeric and garam masala and simmer until the sauce thickens.

To assemble

the cooked chicken
the masala sauce
50 gr yoghurt
50 gr coconut milk
diced chilli (optional)
fresh coriander (optional)

Add the chicken to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the yoghurt and coconut milk. Sprinkle with the chopped chilli and some fresh coriander.

The meat was moist and soft, with caramelised spots all over. Before I added it to the sauce I was thinking that you could easily serve it dry, with some cucumber raitha and naan bread. As it is normal with stews, the sauce was even better when we had the leftovers the next day.

I served it with this Aubergine in Yoghurt side dish, some rice and homemade pita bread.

Previously on Round the World in 100 Recipes:
King Prawn Puri 
Saffron Yoghurt with Fennel Seed Biscuits 
Aubergine in Yoghurt
Next time on Round the World in 100 Recipes: More curry. Actually, the best curry I’ve ever had.

*I normally avoid publishing recipes taken from books, but a search online reveals that different versions of Heston’s CTM exist on other websites. This isn’t the original recipe (as it appears in the book) as I have simplified it to make it more home-cook friendly, so hopefully no one will get angry with me for putting it up here!  

Homemade pasta

Ah, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve just come back from a skiing holiday in Austria and I am still trying to recover from a silly amount of muscle pain and a salty food and beer overdose. All in all, a successful holiday. Photos (mainly of food and snow) will follow.

I took my netbook with me hoping to write a couple of posts and keep up with a bit of work, but in my search for wifi all I found was giggles from the locals. I managed to locate a computer with The Internet on it, in a hotel basement, but I couldn’t bring myself to stay down there for long when the sun was shining and the pistes were waiting!

Anyway, enough with the Austria talk, since it (probably) belongs to a different post. I though I’d tell you about a little adventure I had before I left. It was after a long day of work so I came back completely exhausted and brain-dead. Alex wasn’t around which can only mean one thing: pasta for dinner! It was going to be an easy, straightforward meal, until I read this post.

I had tried once before to make my own pasta and decided to dive into the most difficult recipe I could find: Soft egg ravioli. Well, the egg wasn’t too tricky, but the pasta was so difficult to roll out that I spent literally hours trying to make half a dozen of them. I decided I would not try it again without a pasta machine. But Dawn claimed that it was pretty straightforward even by hand, and I decided to give it a go.

Well, she was right! It was actually so good and so easy that I made it again the next day. Here is the recipe, although I haven’t done anything different than she did.

Pasta Dough (from Kitchen Travels)

Ingredients (1 egg per slightly greedy person)

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling
4 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sift the flour into a large bowl or a clean surface. In another bowl, beat the eggs, olive oil and salt until smooth. Mix with the flour until it has all been incorporated. Knead until smooth. 

It didn’t take me more than 10 minutes of kneading until the dough looked smooth and elastic. Wrap in cling film and let rest for half an hour. I took advantage of that time to make the sauce.

Cut in 4 equal pieces and roll each one out onto a thin sheet. The pasta will get thicker when cooked so make sure you make it thin enough. Dust your surface and rolling pin with flour so the dough doesn’t stick.

It only takes 5 minutes to roll out and the dough is very nicely behaved.

I cut it into strips using a pizza cutter but you can use a knife or cut them into circles/squares and fill them with whatever you fancy.

Cook in salted water for about 4 minutes, although it depends on how thick they are. Serve with your favourite sauce.

The taste and texture is so much better than dried pasta (although I’m still a huge fan of course!) or even store-bought fresh egg pasta. You can easily make a very simple tomato sauce while the dough is resting and you have yourself a really tasty and surprisingly quick meal! I had mine with a roast tomato and aubergine sauce and loads of grated cheese on the top. For two days in a row.

I suppose the point of this post is to urge all of you pasta lovers to go ahead and make your own pasta if you haven’t done it before. Do not be intimidated if you haven’t got fancy equipment. Kneading and rolling is pretty therapeutic and the result will be worth it!