Chicken Tikka Masala — the ONLY easy way to make it at home


Chicken tikka masala — the great classic
of North Indian restaurants in the U.K. and U.S. Frankly, it’s a dish that I think is
best left to those restaurants. It’s a huge pain to make at home. That is, unless, you
have some leftover homemade tandoori chicken around. As we established in our previous
video, linked in the description, tandoori chicken is very easy to make at home, and
just as good as the restaurant product. So, I say, when you make it, make twice as much
as you need. Have tandoori chicken one night, then a few nights later, throw your leftovers
into a curry. It’s a natural synergy, and it makes this amazing dish a breeze to do
at home. First thing to consider, though, is the rice.
With a saucy dish like this, you really do want a starch to soak it all up. You want
aged basmati rice — arguably the only white rice that actually tastes like something.
I’m just gonna make a whole 1-pound package. That’s a little more than two cups. Honestly,
I think you can skip this step, but if you want a restaurant-type product, you gotta
wash the rice. You just pour in some water, and swish it around with your fingers, dump
the water out, and repeat. Pour in some water, swish it all around, maybe rinse with a little
bit more water then pour it out. What we’re doing is dissolving and rinsing away the outer
starch coat on these grains. If you don’t do this, the cooked rise will be kind clumpy
instead of fluffy, which frankly I’m not convinced is a bad thing. But if you want nice, individual
grains, you gotta do this a bunch of times until the water is at least starting to go
clear. You pour the water out for the last time,
then dump the wet rice into a pan. The basic water-to-rice ratio is 2 to 1, but these grains
are already holding some water, so you gotta account for that. I’m pouring in 3 and 3/4
cups water into what was originally like 2 and a quarter cups of dry rice. And I’ll do
like a heaping teaspoon of salt for all of that, but that’s really to taste. I’m just
getting the salt evenly dissolved. Then tradition calls for us to simply let
this soak for a half hour. I honestly don’t think that makes a very big difference. I
think it probably evolved mostly as a fuel-saving measure — it shortens the cooking time.
But I’ll let it sit there until I’m ready to start cooking the curry. Hey, let me just turn this guy off, I hate
his voice — sounds like a know-it-all, doesn’t he? Check out this new bluetooth speaker I’ve
been using when I cook. It is the Commuter speaker from Kove, the sponsor of this video,
whom I shall now take a brief moment to thank. This thing is awesome. I don’t know at what
point in my life I settled for tiny, terrible speakers. Back before the days of smartphones,
everybody had stereo systems with beautiful sound. Well, now you can have beautiful sound
again, with this. The Commuter speaker syncs up real easily
to your phone. And then I can listen to podcasts nice and loud when I’m cooking. “Welcome to The Greatest Generation: Deep
Space Nine, it’s a Star Trek podcast…” And get this, it’s water-resistant, so if
I splatter some sauce on it, I can wipe it off, no worries. It’s got this big tactile
volume knob on top, and then you just swipe left or right to go through a playlist. Battery life is great — up to 8 hours. And
it has a normal mode and a bass mode. I use the normal mode for pod — it makes voices
ring really clearly, and there’s no boom. And when I want boom, I can turn the bass
on, for say, music. Hey, you should check out that guy on SoundCloud, he sounds real
good. And you should check out the Commuter speaker
from Kove, because it’s 65 percent off, if you use my offer code. The code and the link
are down in the description. Alright, I’ll let this guy get back to talking about food. So with your rice soaking, you can turn to
your chicken. Here’s half a batch of tandoori chicken legs from the last video. Gotta pull
the meat off in chunks, and I highly recommend doing this with your hands, not a knife. Your
hands can tell the difference between a delicious hunk of meat and a gross glob of cartilage.
Your knife cannot tell that difference. You could cut these nto further chunks, but
I like to leave them as-is. My favorite Indian place in the world is called Mela — it’s
in Boston — and they always have big identifiable shreds and chunks of leg and thigh meat in
their curries. Yes, chicken tikka is technically a kebob, but I think that a lot of restaurants
actually use chicken tikka masala as a way of getting rid of leftover tandoori chicken,
and chicken tikka is basically the same stuff — it’s just chicken marinated in yogurt
and spices and cooked at very high heat. Same stuff, just boneless and on a skewer. Only other prep, as you can see, is to just
take a big onion and chop it up. Nothing fancy. Just get it into little pieces. OK, big pan on high heat. I’ll also get the
rice started at this point. High heat until it comes to a boil. You could put some oil
in the pan but I’ve got some ghee — Indian clarified butter. Do not use whole butter,
it’d burn. Use oil if you don’t have this. Then in the onion goes, really blasting it
on high heat. I wanna get some deep roasted flavor out of the onion. They’re filled with
water, those pieces — they will not burn as long as you keep them moving. OK, after a couple minutes, you’ve got some
color on them, I think it’s time to toast the spices. This is the leftover homemade
masala from the last video. You could just use prepackaged Garam Masala, about two tablespoons,
I’d say. Move that around and let it toast. I’d lower the heat to medium at this point.
Big squeeze of tomato paste goes in, a couple tablespoons at least. Without this, the flavor
is just kinda flat. You need it for acidity and intensity. Maybe a tablespoon of Kashmiri
chili powder. This is the secret ingredient. It gives you that beautiful red color with
a nice, mild heat. Use more if you want it hotter. If you can’t get Kashmiri chili powder,
use paprika for color and cayenne for heat. And I feel like I’m forgetting something.
I dunno. Anyway, when you’re terrified everything is gonna burn, a good-quality 28-oz can of
crushed tomatoes goes in. Deglaze with that. Oops, our rice is boiling over, which means
it’s time to reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer about 15 minutes, it’ll be done. Oh,
I know what I forgot — ginger garlic paste. Peel and grate your own if you want to, but
I always just buy it bottled at the Indian grocery. A few big spoonfuls of that. I should’ve
put that in to fry right before I put in the tomatoes, but it probably won’t matter, because
we’re gonna fry the tomatoes, and therefore everything in them. I think a key to this dish is to cook the
tomato sauce down pretty aggressively, stirring it constantly so it doesn’t burn. Nice wide
pan so we get plenty of evaporation, and 10 minutes later, enough water has boiled out
that it’s really caramelizing. Oh hey, the rice is done. Just turn the heat off, leave
it covered. Now is when you put in the cream. I did like
half a cup there, which is conservative. I don’t like it too rich. And then there’s the
ingredient that eluded me for a long time — water. A lot of water. Maybe two cups.
Enough to make the texture light and smooth. I know it seems crazy — we just spent all
that time and effort reducing the water out of the tomatoes — but we did that so that
we could caramelize them and develop flavor, not because we want a dry finished product. Don’t worry, this stuff is very intensely
flavored, it is not gonna taste diluted. Give it a taste. It needs salt. And it needs
the other secret ingredient — sugar. At least a tablespoon. This is totally what they
do at the restaurant. It is essential to get that classic taste. Now, this is when a lot of restaurants would
strain this. If you want that silky smooth finished texture, you gotta strain out the
solids and dump them. But that strikes me as a restaurant nicety that has no place in
the home. That beautiful, smokey, grilled tandoori chicken goes in. It’s fully cooked,
you’re just warming it back up again. At this point I can make a final judgment on texture
— I wanted to add some more water to loosen it up some more. Look at that: glossy, rich, roasted, sweet,
sour, umami — it has ALL THE FLAVORS. A little rice on the plate, chicken and sauce
to the side or on top, you do you. And because I am one of those people who genetically does
not perceive cilantro as tasting like soap, I will rain down a heavy carpet of beautiful
green leaves. And that tastes not like a suitable substitute
for the restaurant product. That tastes like the restaurant product. There’s tons of leftovers,
too. Tandoori chicken the first night, tikka masala the next night — it is as natural
to the home kitchen as it is delicious. You gotta try it.

100 thoughts on “Chicken Tikka Masala — the ONLY easy way to make it at home

  1. Q: Do you realize we don't cook it this way in India?
    A: I said pretty clearly at the top of the video that I'm making the British/American version of the dish. Also, given that a plausible historical origin for the dish is in Glasgow, I would say this version is as traditional as any.

    Q: Don't you know that the water-to-rice ratio depends on the amount of rice being cooked?
    A: Sure do, but 2:1 (or maybe a little less water) is a perfectly good rule of thumb for the quantities of rice that most people are making at home, i.e. 1-2 cups at a time.

    Q: Why did you make rice with it instead of naan?
    A: Because rice is way easier to cook at home. I love naan, and I think you can make great naan if you have a pizza stone, so I'll definitely be doing that in a future video, but not today.

  2. If you're ever in LA.. Anarkalis has hands down the best Tikka Masala. Out of this world good, with garlic naan, and rice

  3. I am, sadly, one of those unfortunate genetic-lottery losers who cannot distinguish between cilantro and soap. Any ideas on a substitute for this recipe? Thai basil maybe?

  4. Glad that I could hear two of my favorite Adams in one episode! Can't wait to hear what the intro to "the greatest Picard" will sound like!

  5. Can you possibly do a saag paneer recipe next? I always fail doing that recipe but I love it so much at restaurants.

    I love your videos Adam!

  6. After two months of watching your videos I’ve finally realized I am not subscribed to you and YouTube is just recommending this to me…

    I’m gonna go and subscribe now.

  7. Adam i am an Indian
    And I never imagined that you could achieve this level of excellency in Indian food!!!
    I mean it!!!! Wow
    Keep it up Adam
    You can become the world's greatest chef!!!
    Good luck on that
    #Masterchef
    #Hero

  8. You know, it’s a little bit irritating that an Indian dish like Chicken Tikka Masala is referred to as “the great classic of North Indian restaurants in the UK and US.” I mean, it’s an Indian dish. Credit the country. Just because you’ve eaten it in the UK and US doesn’t mean it’s a classic dish from there. It’s a traditional INDIAN dish.

  9. Looks delicious! I have my own version that's way easier but probably not as good. I just get boneless chicken thighs and coat them in the masala (which I make from scratch–it's basically just plain Greek yogurt mixed with a bunch of Indian spices). Then I roast it in the oven with some cauliflower and onions on the side. I don't bother with rice or naan because the roasted cauliflower and onions are my side dish. Super easy with easy cleanup too. Again, probably not as tasty as this version though.

  10. He has succeeded in making me feel more suspense than any movie ever has. The way he says his w's slow… plays like he forgot something… plays up ingredients that ARE NOT WINE.

    And then the end… where he goes quiet and you can hear the room. You expect to hear wine being opened or poured.

  11. Another way to make the grains separated is to fry it a little bit before you add the water, like you do with risoto. The starch on the surface will not be sticky anymore. You can even wash it, let it dry, and fry. Also i let it rest for at least 20 minutes with a towel between the pan and the lid before serving to let it dry completely. Dry and not sticky rice will be super fluffy which is ideal to eat with something already moist, It holds the sauce of the dish. But if the main dish doesn't have sauce, then the rice can be more sticky and moist like japanese. It´s all about balance. I love rice.

  12. Remember the “just throw it in the water and boil it!” Episode? This is the “just boil it then throw some water in it!” Episode. Maybe less energy tho

  13. There's a faster way to wash rice:
    Swirl the rice AFTER you pour most of the water out, before adding more water. The increased friction between the rice grains will get the starch off much faster.

  14. Rice to water ratio is not 2-1! I don't know why everyone in America insists on this. But it's only over there that everyone thinks the ratio is like this. It will never make perfectly cooked rice. Have you all ever tried doing 100 ml rice to 130 ml water. It makes perfect rice every time. You probably will need to calculate that to American measurements.

  15. I've found that washing rice is much quicker if you fill it up with water, dump it out and THEN swish around. But idk.

  16. 1:09 I also used to think it really didn't matter if the rice was clumpy and sticky. But lately I've realized that my rice cooker works a lot better if the rice is rinsed. Because if it's not there is a much thicker layer of sediment of starch on the bottom that becomes rubbery and easily becomes slightly burned. So if you use a rice cooker at least it's a very good idea to rinse the rice (probably also for normal boiling, but I've used a rice cooker for so long that I don't remember if that was a porblem or not)

    BTW, I used your recipe for tandoori chicken last sunday, it was really good! I've had black cardamoms in my spice cubard but I've never tried using them before; and they really made a difference. Using a lot less yoghurt than most recipes really improved how nice the crust got. I replaced kashmiri chili with hot hungarian paprika (which is a similarly slightly hot paprika, but it's a lot more orange in color) which worked nice.

  17. They also sell cheap rice strainers on amazon, a plastic bowl you just run water through the tiny holes in bottom the starch leaves. The big advantage to them is they also don't stick rice to it like that method you did.

  18. Instead of straining (which I agree is a retaurant nicety , and also incredibly wasteful) I blend my sauce/gravy. It comes out incredibly smooth, just like at the restaurants (here in the UK at least). Have you ever thought to add some ground almonds? That's what the restaurants use here and I have to say, it does a lot for texture and flavour; just a thought.

    Also, in response to "Do you realize we don't cook it this way in India?", that's probably because this in a British dish, first "invented" by Indian immigrants in Glasgow to appeal to an audience that was still exclusively eating unseasoned meat and two veg meals. And haggis….

  19. 6:10 “And then there’s the ingredient that eluded me for a long time, … water”

    Thinks its even crazier than you didn’t put white wine in it

  20. Okay, that might have been the coolest sellout bit you have done yet. I loved the transitions and the self promo, no offense but I always skipped the sqaurespace ones.

  21. You can get an unclumpy rice without washing by using a 4:3 water to rice ratio by volume and cooking for less time-14 minutes.

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