Chicken Tikka Masala and Firestone Naan

Chicken Tikka Masala and Firestone Naan

Every so often I get a real hankering for a dish that is warm, spicy and creamy. In such a time I usually turn my attention to Indian food. When it comes to Indian food, tikka masala is on top of my list. For such a craving, it ticks all the boxes. And making it at home gives me all the freedom to adjust it as I see fit. The beautiful thing about tikka masala is that there’s no such thing as just one perfect version. It’s all a matter of individual tastes and preferences. That’s why, with an hour and a few exotic seasonings, this tikka masala is the version I turn to when I need to crush a craving fast.

I’m not being entirely truthful when I say one hour. Sure you can get it cooked in that time, but if you really want the full experience, you have to marinade the chicken for several hours in a blend of yoghurt and spices. The yoghurt penetrates the chicken and keeps it juicy and flavorful. A step I highly recommend not skipping. Most Westerners don’t own a tandoor oven, so as a second best choice I prefer to use the grill, but as mentioned in the recipe below you can use the broiler function on any home oven.

Tikka masala just wouldn’t be complete without the addition of freshly stone-baked naan bread. There’s something about ripping a piece of flatbread and sopping up that rich creamy sauce. Rice helps, but given the choice, I’d take fresh bread any day. Also, though baking this bread works best on a pizza stone on a grill, you can also achieve a similar result with just an oven, unfortunately domestic ovens don’t typically reach temperatures high enough to get the full impact.

Tandoori Marinade

  • Difficulty: Easy
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Tandoori Marinade:

  • 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 300mL (10.14 fluid ounces) Greek or Turkish yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek leaves
  • 4 or 5 curry leaves
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • ½ lime, juiced

If using thick chicken breasts, slice them lengthwise down the middle so you have two flat breasts.

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Place the chicken into the marinade and seal with plastic wrap or cover. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Servings: 4-6 Persons
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Tikka Masala:

  • 63mL (2.13 fluid ounces) oil, sunflower, canola or peanut
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 inch (5.08 centimetres) piece of ginger
  • 4 large cloves of garlic
  • 6-8 medium size tomatoes, diced
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp (scant) fenugreek leaves
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Handful fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped also stems, reserved
  • 1-400ml/14 fl.oz can of coconut cream
  • Sea salt to season – start with 2 tsp and adjust before serving, if necessary.

1. In a high-sided frying pan or pot, over medium-high heat, warm the oil and add the onion, ginger, and garlic. Fry until the onions become translucent.

2. Add the diced tomatoes and reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

3. After 20 minutes, add the curry and fenugreek leaves, paprika, ground coriander, cardamom, pepper, chili powder, just the cilantro stems, salt and coconut cream. Stir well and continue simmering uncovered until the chicken is cooked.

Cooking the chicken:
Either on the grill or broiler, turn up on high heat, about 260°C (500 degrees Fahrenheit). If using the broiler, place the chicken pieces on a rack with a drip pan underneath. If using the grill, simply place the chicken on the heated and oiled grates and cook until charred, about 5-7 minutes per side. In the broiler, flip the chicken over once after about 7 minutes.

Remove chicken from grill/broiler. Cut into large bite-sized chunks. Add to the curry. Garnish with cilantro and a dollop of yoghurt. Serve hot with basmati rice and naan bread.

Fire Stone Naan

Fire Stone Naan Bread

  • Servings: Makes 3-4 Large Naan
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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  • 500mL (16.91 fluid ounces) bread flour + extra for kneading
  • 125mL (4.23 fluid ounces) warm water
  • 63mL (2.13 fluid ounces) Greek style yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp oil + extra for rolling out the bread
  • 1 tsp dry instant yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp nigella seeds, optional

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and nigella seeds. If using honey, add with wet ingredients. Give a quick stir.

2. Add the water, yoghurt, and oil. Mix with your hand until it all comes together. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should be fairly wet and sticky. That’s okay. Let rest in a warm place, covered for 90 minutes.

3. Place a pizza stone on the grill and heat to 260°C (500 degrees Fahrenheit).

4. Cut the dough into at least 3 equal pieces, more if you prefer smaller naan. Pour a couple teaspoons of oil out on the counter and roll each piece of dough into a thin elongated shape.

5. After each piece is rolled out, place 1 piece on the pizza stone and cook for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove and cover with a towel. Cook the remainder of pieces. Serve warm with curry.

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