Chicken Tikka Masala
Charred boneless chicken pieces covered in rich, tangy and sweet tomato sauce, this chicken tikka masala recipe is one of the best you will ever cook. Most of the time when we visit restaurants we end up ordering chicken tikka masala to go with Naan, that is because we strongly presume its little hard to make at home or we feel its tough to achieve the restaurant style taste.
This recipe here gives you a wonderful chicken tikka masala gravy, that emanates all the rich flavours, juicy chicken and the exact creaminess needed. Getting the chicken tikka done at home is not a difficult thing, you can cook the chicken tikka in oven or on stove top as per your convenience.
While some people believe that the tomato gravy of butter chicken and tikka masala is quite similar, the main difference is the amount of tomato used. Chicken tikka masala has much higher intensity of tomato flavour, and infact less onion. Its less creamy than butter chicken but certainly a rich one.
I personally prefer a non blended gravy as it releases all the flavor than the blended one. Why to blend and strain the mixture when you could actually get a super smooth gravy with proper steps followed.
For chicken tikka
Chicken 1/2 kg
Ginger garlic paste 1 teaspoon
Hung curd 1/2 cup
Lemon juice 1 teaspoon
Kashmiri red chilli powder 2 teaspoons
Pepper powder 1 teaspoon
Roasted cumin powder 1 teaspoon
Oil 1 tablespoon (for marination)
Garam masala 1 teaspoon
Coriander powder 2 teaspoons
Salt as needed
Kasuri methi 1 teaspoon crushed
Oil 2 tablespoon for basting
For the Tikka Masala
Onion 2 very finely chopped or minced
Ginger garlic paste 2 teaspoons
Tomato 5 medium sized
Cashew 10 (soaked in hot water for 15 minutes)
Fresh cream 3 tablespoon
Kashmiri red chilli powder 2 tablespoon
Coriander powder 1 tablespoon
Roasted cumin powder 1 teaspoon
Garam masala 1.5 teaspoon
Oil 4 tablespoons
Kasuri methi 2 teaspoons crushed
Sugar 2 teaspoons
Cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon
Salt as needed
How to start?
Marinate the chicken pieces with hung curd, ginger garlic paste, kashmiri red chilli powder, coriander powder, salt, kasuri methi, garam masala, 1 tablespoon oil, pepper powder, cumin powder and lemon juice for atleast 1 hour. More the marination time, more tender your chicken will be.
After 1 hour, heat an iron skillet with 1 tablespoon oil, add the chicken pieces in batches. Do not over crowd them. Keep the flame high and cook each side for 4 minutes, until it gets nicely browned. You can also thread the chicken on to skewers and grill on skillet until it gets browned.
The chicken need not get cooked completely as it will get cooked in the gravy. All we need to do is slightly brown the chicken. You can also thread the chicken on to skewers and show it directly on the flame, but note that it will be a messy process as the chicken will start dripping its juice.
Alternatively you can cook the chicken tikka in oven. Preheat your oven at 220 degrees. Arrange the chicken pieces on the baking tray and place it on high rack, cook it for 20 minutes, checking after ten minutes and basting the chicken with oil, so that the chicken does not get dried. After 20 minutes, strain the juice left on the baking tray, and keep the tray back in oven. Grill the chicken for 5 minutes, so that the chicken gets nicely charred.
Set aside the tikka pieces.
Now lets start preparing for the gravy. Boil 3 cups of water in a wide vessel, slit the skin of the tomatoes a little with knife and add it to the boiling water. Let it boil for 20 minutes. Switch off the flame. Once it gets cooled down, drain the water, peel off the skin and puree the tomatoes in a blender. Set aside. Grind the soaked cashews into a smooth paste adding little water.
Now heat a kadai with oil, add cumin seeds. Let it crackle. Add onions and ginger garlic paste. Fry for 3 minutes. Add the tomato puree, and add a cup of water. Let it boil for 5 minutes. Now add red chilli powder, coriander powder,cumin powder and salt. Give it good mix without any lumps.
Add the cashew paste and cook on medium flame for 3 minutes. Let the gravy thicken a little. Add the cooked chicken tikka pieces, cook on medium low flame for 3 minutes again. Once the chicken absorbs all the flavours, add the fresh cream, mix well and simmer the flame for 2 minutes. Add garam masala and kasuri methi at the end and switch off the flame.
Now heat a small piece of charcoal over direct heat until it is red hot. Keep a small bowl in the center of gravy and keep the hot coal in the small bowl. Add a teaspoon of ghee over it and close it with a tight lid. Let all the smokiness seep inside the chicken and the gravy. Do not open it for at least 10 minutes. This process is called Dhungar.
Serve hot with Naan or any pulao
To prepare hung curd, add curd to a strainer and keep a bowl below it. Let it stay for 10 minute. All the excess water from the curd will be strained out and you will get a thick curd. Using thick hung curd is a must.
I used kashmiri red chilli powder for the colour and spice. If you prefer your sauce to be more spicy, substitute with half of regular chilli powder and kashmiri chilli powder.