A traditional British curry, rumoured to have its roots in London, Manchester or Birmingham rather than anywhere further afield, this dish is easy enough for people who aren’t benzoate intolerant to buy but far more complex for us C&B-free folks to make. There are four distinct steps – firstly, preparing your garam masala spice mix, then making your curry paste, then preparing a fruit puree to substitute for the mango chutney, then finally putting your tikka masala together.
Step 1 – Garam Masala
This is a dry spice mix which traditionally contains cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg.
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons seeds from cardamom pods, ground
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1. Mix all ingredients together
2. Store in an airtight jar until needed
Step 2 – curry paste
An essential part of this particular curry is the paste with which to coat your meat
5 large cloves of garlic
1 large chunk of fresh root ginger
1 red chilli, de-seeded (optional for those who are sensitive to chillies)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika (optional for those who are sensitive to chillies)
1 teaspoon of your pre-prepared garam masala (see above)
Seeds from 4 cardamon pods
A little water or vegetable oil
1. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth
2. This can be stored in the fridge for a week or the freezer for up to a month
Step 3 – apple or pear puree
This is an optional step to give you something to use instead of the traditional mango chutney (which many of us would react to because it’s a stone fruit, it sometimes contains spices, and it’s been well-cooked)
1 large or 2 small fresh apple or pears, peeled and cored (very soft, squishy, over-ripe pears would be the easiest to work with)
1 teaspoon sugar
1. Put the pieces of your apple or pear, and the sugar in a small pan on the hob or a small covered bowl in the microwave, together with a couple of tablespoons of water
2. Cook for a few minutes until soft – don’t overcook, you want it to be just soft. If you’re using over-ripe pears you may be able to cook for just 30 seconds to a minute until the sugar dissolves.
3. Mash with a fork or blend in a small food processor until smooth
Step 4 – Tikka masala
After having prepared your spice mix and your fruit puree, now you can get on with the business of actually making your curry! This isn’t *quite* authentic as there are several substitutions to the normal ingredients but it should taste pretty close
800g sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
25 g butter
4 onions, roughly chopped
6 tablespoons home-made curry paste
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes, or the equivalent amount of lamb, turkey or beef
2 to 3 tablespoons apple or pear puree
150ml double cream or a dairy & soya-free alternative
150ml natural yoghurt (optional, if using, go for a sterile, non-live yoghurt)
Chopped coriander leaves, to serve
1. Put the sweet potato into a pan with sufficient water to cover and simmer until soft. Mash whilst still in the cooking water and leave to one side.
2. Heat the oil and butter in a large, lidded casserole on the hob, then add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook for 15-20 mins until soft and golden. Add the paste and peppers, then cook for 5 mins more to cook out the rawness of the spices.
3. Add the meat and stir well to coat in the paste. Cook for 2 mins, then tip in the mashed sweet potato and water mix, adding a little more water if necessary so as to cover the meat. Cover with a lid and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked through
4. Remove the lid, stir through the apple or pear puree, cream and yogurt if using, then gently warm through. Scatter with coriander leaves and serve with basmati rice and naan bread.