Monday, September 6, 2010
Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Tikka Masala is the most definitive Indian dish you can think of, and in my opinion one of the best. It is the UK's national dish, and you can find it in any food town. Of course I lack a traditional tandoor, and perhaps the "authentic" flavor one grows up with in an Indian household, but having an Indian girlfriend does help.
Indian food is known for its abundance of spices, and it is this complexity of flavor that people love, but detest learning about. Tumeric, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, sweet, savory, sour, spicy....the adjectives are never ending....this is what deters many from cooking Indian food at home. After many months of studying what ingredients go into this dish, watching Indian moms on youtube with their litanies of ingredients and overly zealous self adulations, and a plethora of food shows that show travels to India with a skewed perspective on life, I am still learning what it takes to make this dish right.
Establishing base flavors is essential in Indian cooking, often starting with browned off onions and ginger and garlic paste. Creating or using your own masala (mixture of spices) is something everybody customizes to their tastes. Tikka Masala is often defined by its tomato base, and orange cream like consistency. An actual recipe for this if often hard, since a lot of techniques are simplified visually, since recipes usually do not capture the nuances of the cooking.
After all said and done, Tikka Masala is accompanied with basmati rice, tomatoes on the side, a topping of fresh cilantro, and of course ghee (clarified butter). One bowl later, and few hundred exclamations of satisfaction, you will have experienced the savory, spicy, tomato creamy goodness of Chicken Tikka Masala.
No need to renew your passport, be adventurous, and try it out at home....and if you fail, just go to your local Indian restaurant and enjoy!