Thursday, 30 June 2011

My Lower Fat Chicken Tikka Curry

I love curry but a Chicken Tikka Masala or Korma type curry from the takeaway is 650 calories just for the meat and sauce. When you add in rice, Nan bread, papdoms etc, you're going to hit well over the 1200 calories mark. My curry here is about 300 calories per portion. Add in a portion of rice, some low fat yoghurt riata, a little onion, tomato and cucumber salad...half a Nan bread and you're looking at 600 calories without losing too much taste.

I make it at least once a week and it does take a bit of time. My Dad had Indian business partners for 20 years and he also loves Indian food, so Sunday dinners or family occasions were mostly an Indian buffet feast with loads of meat and vegetarian dishes spread out on the table along with riata, chutneys, salads and Indian breads. I've also been lucky enough to visit India about 5 times now and as a foodie, I loved trying dishes and talking food with the locals, who were always happy to share.

The secret to a great Indian curry, apart from the obvious spices, is the onions! Browning the onions at a decent heat for about 10 minutes till they are caramelised, nutty brown, with little burnt edges is the basis to any Masala or gravy. The other thing is marinating the meat overnight. I cook my meat and sauce separately so the sauce is reduced and complex and the chicken juicy and not overcooked.

I make this recipe to serve 10 to 12 portions. We use 2 straight away and freeze the rest in individual portion bags...really handy for a busy day at work or in anticipation of a Friday night craving. If you don't care about calories, then go for it and triple the amount of Ghee, Coconut milk and Cashew nuts being used and add in a big dollop of mango chutney to get a much richer flavour.

Recipe (makes 10 to 12 portions)
Chicken Tikka
Marinade overnight in a sealed container in the fridge
·         1.5 kg Chicken breast cut up into decent sized chunks that won’t dry up in the oven
·         150g Glenisk Low Fat Yoghurt
·         3 tbsp Tandoori Masala powder
Masala Sauce
·         3 tbsp Ghee or clarified butter
·         400g Onions, sliced
·         2 medium red Chillies (deseeded and finely chopped)
·         3 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
·         3 big cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
·         4 cardamom pods, crushed and green husk removed to leave the seeds
·         2 bay leaves
·         2 inch piece of cassia bark or cinnamon stick
·         800g chopped tomatoes (this is 2 standard tins)
·         165g can of coconut milk
·         50g cashew nuts
·         1 portion of Home-made curry paste
·         750ml Chicken Stock
·         80g fresh coriander
Home-made curry paste
·         1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
·         2 tsp Tomato Puree
·         1 tbsp ground cumin
·         1 tbsp ground coriander
·         2 tsp turmeric
·         1 tsp Garam Masala
·         ½ tsp Chilli Powder (less or more according to degree of spiciness required)
·         ½ tsp salt
Mix everything to a reddish brown paste

Make the Masala or curry sauce by heating the Ghee over a medium to high heat, add the bay leaves, cassia bark and cardamom and fry off in the oil for a minute. Add the onions and brown for ten minutes, stirring often until golden nutty brown. Add the chilli, garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the curry paste and cook out for 2 to 3 minutes stirring constantly. You can add a little stock to the pan to loosen the mixture if it starts to dry out in the pan. You should be left with a fragrant, reddish brown pasty onion mixture. Add in the tomatoes and cook until boiling, add the stock and reduce for about 15 minutes on a medium to high heat to concentrate the flavours and let the spiced onion mix infuse into the stock and tomatoes. Mix in the fresh coriander. Important - Take out the cassia bark and bay leaves before blending. Using a stick blender blitz the sauce to a smooth think consistency. Taste and season with salt and more chilli powder if that’s your thing. Put the cashew nuts into a food processer (or use a stick blender), add a little water and blitz to a smooth paste. Add these to the sauce. Add the 165g can of coconut milk. Finally, taste the sauce again and correct the seasoning for a final time.
Whilst the stock is reducing you can be cooking the chicken Tikka. Heat the oven to its highest setting, mine is 250 degrees C but higher would be better. Place the marinated chicken on a baking tray, evenly spread out with space between each piece. Use 2 trays if you’re doing the full recipe. It’s important not to crowd the tray. I normally pre-heat my trays whilst the oven is heating up. Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes but check the biggest chicken piece by cutting it open after about 8 minutes just in case your oven is a bit hotter. The chicken should be cooked through (no pink) but you should still be able to see plenty of moisture in the meat. There’s nothing worse than dry over-cooked Tikka.
To serve I just do a little basmati rice, some low fat Glenisk yoghurt riata (made with yoghurt and shop bought mint sauce), a chopped red onion, tomato and cucumber salad and a Nan bread (I get Taza brand Tandoori Nan from my local Asian supermarket, the supermarket big brand Nan breads are terrible. I also don’t make them myself as you really need a Tandoor or Pizza oven to do them any justice at all)

Hope someone tries and enjoys this. Please leave a comment and let me know.

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