India on your doorstep

16 September 2011

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Apart from India, where else in the world would you want to try out Indian food? You may perhaps think a neighbouring Asian country. However, in Europe there’s only one nation that’s embraced Indian food like no other and it’s Britain. After traditional English food, Indian cuisine in the UK still remains the most popular.

Apparently spicy food was introduced to Britain around 7 hundred years ago, long before Europe realised that India existed. The English used to make spice mixtures similar to the modern day curry powders. Nowadays, lots of homes have at least one spice in their store cupboards and many households make a curry of some sort or another.  A ‘curry’ means a spicy savoury Asian dish of meat, fish or vegetables. To most people in Britain, it conveniently covers all Indian cuisine. So ‘going for a curry’ means going to a restaurant which serves Indian food.

Curry Leaves

People are now beginning to realise the differences in regional Indian cuisine and the subtleties of Northern Indian dishes and Southern Indian delicacies. During the sixties, many ‘Indian’ foods were developed including Chicken Tikka Masala. The CTM was created apparently created by British Indian restaurants run by the Bangladeshi communities. You don’t have to travel far in the UK to try out a curry. Every major city in Britain boasts at least five Indian restaurants and it doesn’t seem like our hunger for the hot stuff is going to wane. There are stores selling all kinds of ingredients for Indian cooking, plus several British varieties of chilli to add to the spice mix. Cyber curries are extremely popular too. My video tutorial for a quick chicken curry has over 1.8 million hits all adding to an ever expanding nation of spice addicts.

Indian spices

Chicken Tikka Masala in Ten Minutes

Serves 2

3 tbsp sunflower or olive oil

1/4 tsp crushed black pepper

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, chopped into 2cm pieces

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves or 2 tsp garlic paste

4-5 tbsp single or double cream

1 tsp tomato puree

1 tsp peeled and grated root ginger or 1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp turmeric

generous pinch chilli powder

1/4 tsp salt

a generous pinch garam masala

coriander leaves for garnish, washed and roughly chopped

Heat a pan on a medium heat and add the oil and tip in the black pepper.
Stir, and then add the chicken. Fry for a minute and add the onions.
Continue to cook for a couple of minutes and then stir in the garlic.
In a bowl, mix the cream with the tomato puree and set aside.
Add the ginger to the pan of chicken. The chicken should look brown on the outside.
Stir in the cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, chilli powder and salt and mix well.
Add the cream and tomato mixture. Fold it into the chicken pieces. The curry should look thick. If you would like the sauce to be runny, add about 4 tablespoons of water.
Sprinkle over the garam masala and garnish with coriander leaves.

Tip: if you use ready made tandoori chicken pieces, the Chicken Tikka Masala should take 6 minutes to prepare.

Click here for the recipe video

Posted by Manju Mahli, celebrity British Chef

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