So I seem to be a hopeless cookbook collector. To moderate my addiction, I made this self-imposed rule to make at least fifteen recipes from each book I own. This is a bit more difficult than it sounds, because with all the brilliant, in-your-face recipes flaunting themselves on the internet, one can see how their physical cookbook counterparts can get over-shadowed. With this book, I was at a loss which recipe to try first, so logic told me the best place to start is at the beginning, and sure enough, I did. This chicken tikka masala is the first recipe in the book, and a mighty good one at that. I halved the recipe, but other than that, followed it as is to great success.
1 level tsp ground cloves
1 level tsp ground cumin
2 heaped tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 heaped tsp garam masala
6 cloves garlic
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
6 heaped Tbsp natural yoghurt
800g skinless boneless chicken breasts
3 fresh green or yellow chillies
For the sauce:
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, grated
1–2 fresh red chillies, chopped
30 g fresh coriander
1 level Tbspground coriander
2 level teaspoons turmeric
6 tablespoons ground almonds
2 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
1 chicken stock cube
2 x 400 g tins of light coconut milk
Put the cloves, cumin and 1 heaped teaspoon each of paprika and garam masala into a small pan and toast for 1 minute to bring them back to life, then tip into a large bowl.
Finely grate in the zest of 1 lemon, squeeze in all its juice, crush in the garlic, peel and finely grate in the ginger, and add the yoghurt and 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
Cut the chicken breasts into 5cm chunks, then massage all that flavour into the meat, cover with clingfilm and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
Skewer up the chicken chunks, interspersing them with lemon wedges and chunks of green or yellow chilli, but don’t squash them together too much.
For the sauce, put the onions, garlic, red chilli, and coriander stalks into a large casserole pan on a medium-high heat with a lug of oil and cook for around 20 minutes, or until golden, stirring regularly.
Add the ground coriander, turmeric and remaining 1 heaped teaspoon each of paprika and garam masala. Cook for 2 minutes, then add and toast the almonds.
Pour in the tomatoes, crumble in the stock cube and add 300ml of boiling water.
Simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in the coconut milk.
Simmer for a final 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, then season to perfection.
When you’re ready to cook the chicken, drizzle it with a little oil, then grill on a hot barbecue, in a screaming hot griddle pan or under a hot grill, turning until it’s very golden and gnarly on all sides.
Slice the chicken off the skewers straight into the sauce, reserving the lemons.
Simmer for 2 minutes while you use tongs to squeeze some jammy lemons over the curry, to taste.
Swirl through some more yoghurt, sprinkle with the coriander leaves, and serve with parathas or fluffy basmati rice.