Spicy chicken tikka masala brings world together
January 03 2019 08:43 PM
KNOWN: Chicken tikka masala, a world-renowned dish, comes with countless regional variations.

By Tarun Kapoor

On a cold winter evening, there is nothing quite like sitting down to a piping hot plate of chicken tikka masala with steam rice and naan bread. This world-renowned dish, with countless regional variations, can be found in Indian restaurants around the globe. Although its origins are hotly contested, yet the creamy, spiced curry and tender chicken can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere. So, what exactly is the story behind this popular entrée? Let’s start with digging into its origin. The succulent creamy chunky tomato chicken curry is a perfect blend of spices and flavours that mesmerises people from west and east. I literally can eat this dish every day and is my idea of food heaven. Spicy, colourful, comforting and regal, it brings the world together. Some call it of British origin, some relate it to the ancient Mughal rulers and some even relate this dish to be relatively new and take the credit for it. So, lets revisit some of these food stories and see which one makes sense and let’s continue enjoying this divine dish called the chicken tikka masala. 
About 500 years ago the Mughal rulers relished boneless pieces of meats cooked over fire and the name tikka came into existence. After that due to the continuous search of making unique dishes for the rulers, the chefs added the sauce to keep the chicken pieces moist and tender, the resulting dish was simmered in tomato and onion-based sauce and was popularised after that.
After India’s independence from the British, there was a flood of immigration to UK and Indian restaurants mushroomed all over the country. Some run by the Indians and others run by Bangladeshi immigrants. One fine day, a British wanted a better dish than his dry chicken tikka masala sent the tikka back to the kitchen and the Bangladeshi chef in order to keep the chicken tikka pieces moist added tomato soup to the boneless chicken pieces and finished it with cream, thus creating a dish which British’s claim to be theirs.
Again, with any popular food item, there is no limit to the number of stories related to its origin. Similarly, many foodies believe that the British version of origin story is too young to relate to this classical dish, which has been around for centuries in the Indian subcontinent. Another staggering claim is from the famed Moti Mahal restaurant. According to their version, the tandoor was introduced to the first Indian restaurant Moti Mahal, New Delhi in 1948 after the partition. Lala Kundan Lal Gujral first set up in Peshawar in 1920 came to Delhi in 1947 to set up Moti Mahal. He worked with a local man to produce the first restaurant version of tandoor and invented tandoori spice mix for the tandoori chicken. The restaurant was an instant hit and people used to line up for the tandoori chicken. The cooks in order to use the left over and trimmings simmered the chicken pieces in the buttery tomato sauce and then this delectable dish came to existence.
Regardless of its mysterious origin, chicken tikka masala enjoys its special place in the food kingdom. Today, so many versions of this dish are floating around the world in restaurant kitchens and are the favourite among foodies.

Chicken tikka masala

Chicken thigh 500gm
Yoghurt 1 cup
Ginger garlic paste 3 tbsp
Salt to taste 
Oil 2 tbsp
Kasoori methi 1 tbsp
Deggi mirch powder 2 tbsp

For sauce
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Butter 4 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste 2 tbsp
Green chilli 2-3 nos. 
Tomato paste ½ cup
Red onion, diced 1/3 cup
Garam masala 1 tsp
Paprika powder 2 tsp
Coriander powder 1 tbsp
Tomato, diced 8 nos.
Salt to taste
Water 2 cups
Heavy cream ½ cup
Cilantro, chopped 1/3 cup

For the marinade, in a large bowl mix together the marinade ingredients and add the diced chicken thigh pieces and leave it overnight or 2-3 hours in refrigerator.
For the sauce, heat oil in a heavy bottom pan or skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and butter.
Add ginger garlic paste and chopped green chilli and sauté till light brown.
Add diced onion and tomato and diced tomato and sauté for 3-4 minutes, add tomato paste and water and simmer over low heat.
Add garam masala, coriander powder, paprika powder, adjust the seasoning and keep aside.
Heat the grill and brush with little oil and grill the chicken thigh pieces and turn to cook from the other side.
Cook till the chicken is cooked, remove from the grill and cut into smaller dices, if required.
Simmer the chicken pieces in the prepared sauce and add heavy cream.
Serve hot garnished with chopped cilantro and choice of naan bread or rice.

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