Monday, October 28, 2013

Homemade Tikka Paste and Chicken Tika recipe

I am very fond of curry.  Though, I must admit, not too spicy.  But that's the great thing about homemade curry, you can make it as are-you-certain-this-is-curry-mild or as call-the-fire-department-hot as you like.  If you don't like chicken in your tika, try lamb, or shrimp.  If you don't like coconut then omit, or try a Tablespoon of Kechk powder instead.  There are so many choices, and it's hard to do wrong when it comes to curry.

Increasingly these days, there is a problems with curry.  A Lot of curry pastes sold in stores, contain soy, or nuts, or other potential allergens.  Vegans have a similar problem, as often these jar pastes will contain animal products like butter.  Thank goodness it's easy to make your own curry paste, especially if you have a food processor at home, but you can also do it by hand, just give yourself more time.

When I'm making my own curry paste, I like to put it together the day before I cook a curry, that way, the flavours blend together better and, in my opinion, make a nicer curry.  But other people like to make it up fresh each time, so it's really a matter of personal taste.  

Tikka Paste

1 super hot chile
4 cloves of garlic
half an inch of fresh ginger
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbs smoked paprika
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs oil
one small tin tomato paste
1 tsp ajwain (whole)
1 tsp fennel (whole)

  • In a dry fry pan, toast the ajwain and fennel on medium high until they start to change colour and smell fantastic.  Remove from heat, allow to cool a bit then grind to a fine powder.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blitz until well blended.  Add more oil if needed.  
  • Keep in an sealed container in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Chicken Tikka

2 to 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 large sweet onion
1 chile fresh or dry (optional)
1/2 inch fresh ginger
olive oil
1/2 cup tikka paste
1 can diced tomatoes

  • Slice the chicken into 3/4 inch strips (or cubes if you like), put to one side
  • Finely slice the onion, chili (optional) and ginger.  In a heavy bottom pot (my favourite is the cast iron, stove friendly dutch oven) heat a few glugs of oil and fry on medium heat, the onions, chili and ginger until onions start to turn golden.  
  • Add the curry paste, give it a stir, then add the chicken.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is seared on the outside.
  • Add the tomatoes and then fill the tin about 3/4 full with water, and add that.  mix well and bring to a boil.
Two choices here
  1. simmer on the stove with the lid on, for about 20 minutes, string often to make certain nothing burns on the bottom.  OR...
  2. Put the lid on the pot and put it in the oven, at 325 F for at least half an hour, and up to 2 hours.
  • Serve with rice and optional a dab of yogurt on top.

This recipe is (heavily) modified from Jamie Oliver's book Food Revolution.  He has a nice selection of easy to make curry pastes, from super-spicy Vindaloo, to a nice everyday Korma paste.  Each of these pastes lasts one to two weeks in the fridge, and in my mind are just as good as any commercial curry paste. If you end up getting that book, I highly recommend the Vegetable Bhajis as a side dish to the chicken tikka, served with a simple salad and a bed of rice.  His Aloo Gobhi recipe is a fantastic vegetarian (omit the butter for a vegan friendly) curry.

Another source of curry recipes is 1000 Indian Recipes by Batra.  There are some fantastic recipes in this book, but I find it a bit difficult to use.  Most recipes include well over a dozen, in some cases up to 3 dozen, ingredients, and often refer you back to other recipes, that require yet other recipes... and so forth.  But for someone truly enamoured with Indian cooking, it's a fantastic reference.  The flat breads are especially yummy and even nicer when adapted to use sourdough yeast.

Affordable?  Yep.  If you have the tikka as a main, then you only need about 1 chicken breast per person, however, if you keep it as a side dish with rice and a vegi dish, then you can feed 2 or 3 people per chicken breast.

This is exceptionally yummy in bento.  Reheat leftover Tikka and pack with fresh rice.  Allow everything to cool before closing the lid.  The spices in the tikka help keep the meat fresh longer at room temp, but of course, always use your common sense if keeping meat at room temp for more than a few hours.

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