As featured on my Podcast.
A few years ago, when I still had my handmade charcoal Tandoori oven, we made this wonderfully rich Chicken Tikka Masala, always served with naan bread. It works brilliantly in the wood fired oven as well (possibly a little better)!
Prepare the Tikka the day before to allow the marinade to soak into the chicken.
(I always make a large batch as the cooked chicken tikka masala will freeze well, and creates an amazing mid week meal when you can't be bothered cooking!)
Wood Fired Oven
Medium - heat up to about 180 - 250 Deg C
Ingredients - Tikka
- 3 kg skinless chicken thigh fillets
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 8 tablespoons homemade dry roasted garam masala*
- 16 cloves fresh garlic - roughly chopped
- 4 teaspoons chilli powder (less if sensitive to chilli)
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon tandoori colouring
- 500 ml thick set natural yoghurt
- 4 x 5cm piece fresh ginger - peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cups fresh coriander leaves chopped
- salt to taste (about 2-4 teaspoons)
Ingredients - Masala
- 4 tablespoons home made dry roasted garam masala*
- 2 teaspoons chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 600 ml cream
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 8 green cardamon pods
- 8 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 4 tablespoons ground almonds
- 1.5 litres passata (tomato puree)
- 4 tablespoons soft brown sugar
- chopped fresh coriander leaves to serve
- salt to taste - 2-4 teaspoons or as preferred
- Large cast-iron casserole dish - for making the tikka
- Large stainless steel skewers
- A couple of spare refractory bricks to hold the skewers or better yet, a custom stainless rack.
This recipe is made in two parts, the Tikka, and the Masala.
This should be made the day before and stored covered in the fridge. Place the ingredients (except the chicken) in a food processor and blend until a smooth colourful paste is formed. Watch out for the tandoori colouring - it will stain anything it touches. Rinse the food processor as soon as you are finished.
Place the chicken thighs into the tikka paste and mix thoroughly. Place in fridge and cover for at least 12 hours. The longer the better.
The next day, about an hour before cooking, remove chicken from the fridge. Slide the chicken onto the skewers leaving a gap at the top and bottom to hand hold and to allow the skewers to rest on the rack in the oven while cooking. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to cook.
In the wood fired oven, using the cast iron pot, heat the oil and gently fry the finely chopped onion and cardamon pods for about 2-4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to fry for about a minute. Add the passata and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
Add the cinnamon, garam masala, chilli powder and sugar and heat for about 1 minute. Stir in the cream and ground almond and simmer for about 30-40 minutes to form the rich red masala. I like to reduce the masala a little to enrich and deepen the flavour profile - so timing is a guide only.
Cook the Chicken
While the masala is finishing its cooking, cook the chicken skewers deep in the wood fired oven over embers, to get the double benefit of cooking over the hot embers and from the retained heat in the oven dome. Cooking the chicken will take about 10 minutes or so. Make sure you cook the chicken long enough to get a few crunchy dark edges - that's the best part! ALWAYS use a quality digital food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. You should get over 165F to be safe.
Add the cooked chicken to the masala pot and stir gently to combine.
Serve with rice and freshly cooked naan bread - also made in the wood fired oven. Drizzle with plain greek yogurt and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
- Don't use store bought garam masala. Take the extra 15 minutes and make my dry roasted Garam Masala recipe - otherwise it will taste very different and not nearly as good!