Indian cooking – Chicken tikka (adapted to most North American’s home kitchens)

Posted: August 6, 2013 in michelin star restaurant
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This is a chicken Tikka recipe that I did adapt to the reality of most North American’s  home kitchens, which means no tandoor oven, and obviously limited by the quality of the ingredients we can get this side of the world . So if you complain about this recipe not being as authentic or perfect as you wished,  then you’ll need to re-read the previous sentence, lol.

Chicken Tikka is a very basic recipe, and as such it needs instinct / a very ‘active’ palate / great judgement / full involvement on your part. I usually do not like writing recipes (the only effective recipes are those that are passed from hands to hands, soul to soul, you and I side by side looking at each other’s gesture and  trying to assimilate the proper taste to achieve …JUST READING  A RECIPE WILL ALWAYS BE A SOUL-LESS ACTION) and would not have re-written this recipe if I did not see an opportunity to improve upon the myriad of its versions that I have perused.

I found ONE MAJOR PROBLEM with most Chicken Tikka recipes: they forget to test/try and tell you which type of yoghurt and garam masala to use. Do not just tell me to use yoghurt and Garam masala. Tell me which type of yoghurt and Garam Masala have delivered the results you found the most enticing………….isn’t that the purpose of cooking (unveiling such intricacies???)…….

I found the following to be the closest you’ll get, within the limits of most North American’s  home kitchens, to the original /traditional version:

For 6 chicken legs (Many do use skinless boneless chicken breasts)

-Yoghurt (plain, 2% MG)    I used the entire container of the 750g Liberté Plain Yoghurt Classic (found it to be better than, say, the plain versions of the Oikos or other types of Yoghurt).
USE THE 2% MG one….I found it to offer a far superior balanced marinade texture than the lighter (0% leads to a watery texture I found unexciting) or fattier ones (thick textures leaning towards the cloying).
-Garam Masala  (your recipe will die or live by the quality of the Masala that is used..Here in Montreal, the best Masala I have stumbled upon, up to now, has been the Kissan Tandoori Masala Barbeque spices, 265g $7.99 at any ethnic grocery) – I did use 3 table spoons (almost 4 actually)  of my Garam Masala. The quantity that needs to be used varies with the texture and depth of taste you want to achieve. For example, I like my Chicken Tikka to have a very specific burnt orange texture (whereas most Indian restaurants would go even further in preffering an almost red color) as well as having a balanced presence of the Garam masala (so not too subtle, but not overhelming neither). You’ll definitely need to start with at least 2 table spoons of Garam Massala and see if you are still fine with what the 3rd delivers, etc.
SMELL THE GARAM MASALA BEFORE U BUY  IT…LOOK FOR DEEP FRESH SPICY AROMAS…AVOID THOSE WITH  SUBTLE/MUTED/DISCRETE  AROMAS!
-Lime juice (2 limes) – MAKE SURE IT IS FRESH AND JUICY.
-Ginger paste (but I prefer fresh ginger that I slice thinly)
-Garlic (thin slices)
-Tumeric powder (two teaspoons)
-Paprika (two teaspoons)
-Pepper / Salt (season to your taste)
-Some great quality saffron (1 table spoon)
-If you happen to have dried fenugreek leaves around you, use 1 tablespoon of it. Or else, you’ll do fine without the dried fenugreek leaves
-Fresh Coriander (to your taste)
-Cummin (1 tea spoon suffices)
-cardamom (couple of pods fitting a teaspoon is fine / if you do not have it, it’s ok)

Marinate your chicken in a mixture of all the above mentioned ingredients (please taste that marinade and adjust its seasoning to your liking). Let it marinade overnight , then grill them as you’d usually grill your chicken (Indians use tandoor oven which delivers heavenly flavors).
PS: Indians serve it with mint paste (do your own recipe using fresh mint paste using plain youghurt). So try it both ways (with and without the paste).

***DO NOT ADD ANYTHING ELSE (some versions of the chicken Tikka recipes go on and on with ingredients that end up killing the purpose of a proper Chicken Tikka).
***CHICKEN TIKKA SHOULD BE  A FEAST FOR YOUR SENSES, SO USING QUALITY INGREDIENT WILL BE REWARDING, FRESH AROMAS WILL GO A LONG WAY!

Bon appétit!

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