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Indian Chicken Tikka

What's The Big Idea?

OK, first up, let's get the "nomenclature" out of the way. Chicken Tikka is not the same thing as Chicken Tikka Masala. In much the same way that a single chipolata isn't the same as a sausage casserole. Don't order one and expect the other (as my kids seem prone to doing!). Chicken Tikka literally just means "pieces of chicken", and consists of bite-sized pieces of chicken which are marinated, and then traditionally cooked in a tandoor oven, but it works pretty well under a grill or on a barbecue. A relatively "dry" dish, no sauce. Chicken Tikka Masala, on the other hand, is an invention of the British "Indian restaurant", and takes those Chicken Tikka pieces and adds them to a tomato-and-cream-sauce.

Now we've clarified that, this is one of my favourite Indian-style recipes, and is fantastic as part of either an Indian-style meal, or a general barbecue or buffet. But remember to allow plenty of time for marination.

Serve with the a small green salad, a little mango chutney and a segment of lemon if serving as a starter, or just as they are if using as part of a barbecue.

Shopping List

Here's the list of what you need:

  • 12oz chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 150g plain yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, very finely chopped or grated
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and very finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon mild curry paste *
  • 2 tablespoons tandoori paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Skewers
  • Salad, mango chutney and lemon wedges to serve
* Curry pastes in many varieties are now widely available. For the Indian cookery novices, a curry paste is not the same as a cook-in-sacue - a paste is basically a combination of spices preserved in oil; they can be used as a key ingredient in a sauce or (as here) marinade, but are not in themselves a sauce. My personal preference is to use korma paste as my "general" curry paste for Indian cooking. It is full of flavour but not too hot - you can then add further heat by adding chillies to the recipe to your own taste. If you start with a very hot paste, you can't then remove the heat...
My personal favourite is Pataks Korma Curry Paste .

What To Do

  • Mix everything together in a suitably sized glass or pyrex bowl, and leave to marinate for 24 hours
  • When ready to cook, pre-heat the grill or barbecue to medium
  • Thread the chicken onto the skewers. If using a grill, place these on a foil-lined tray
  • Cook for 5 minutes, then turn and repeat
  • Cut one of the largest pieces of chicken in half to check it is cooked all the way through; the aim is for it to be thoroughly cooked, but not dried out

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