Chicken Tikka Masala by a Viking

The kitchen of old, and I mean 800 AD, around the beginning of the great Viking rule, was very rudimentary and perhaps dominated by meats, berries, and wheat.  Side salads, chutneys, herbs, and rice was something they only witnessed when they ventured to the Middle East.

Vikings slaughtered chickens with their battle-axes and grill them to charcoal on their campfire.  I doubt that many Vikings actually used exotic herbs to flavor their food.  Food was just a means to refuel before or after a bloody battle.  It was not a culinary experience which we modern Vikings seek today.

Grab the chicken with both hands, tear the burned flesh off the bones with your teeth, while the juices drip into your beard.  Flush it down with mead … the drink of the Gods!

Us modern Vikings are influenced by kitchens and flavors around the world, and we have the best recipe book in the world at our fingertips – the internet!

It is absolutely no secret that I adore and love Indian cuisine.  It offers tons of flavors, colors, ingredients, and works with most meats … obviously less beef 🙂

Word of caution … Indian food is not super healthy as many might assume or think.  They use a lot of oils, lards, creams and yogurts.  But heck, that is part of the taste explosions that happens when you dig in!

For decades I have enjoyed Indian dishes at the local Indian restaurants, always thinking it was impossible and very time-consuming to prepare these dishes.  In my limited mind, I assumed these creations were prepared for days, adding secret flavors and ingredients that could only be sourced in secret markets.  Recipes are passed down through generations and spoken in a secret Indian Tamil dialect.

… and most traditional recipes most likely are, and I’m certain many Indian dishes on the internet tastes nothing like the dish made by real Indian cuisine masters.

chicken-tikka-masalaPlease welcome Chicken Tikka Masala to your kitchen.  It is a fantastic dish with plenty of tomato sauce, yogurt, skewered chicken pieces, and a shitload of Indian herbs/flavors.

It is actually hilarious that one of my favorite dishes was not “born” in India, but was very likely invented in Glasgow, Scotland.

The story goes that one of the local Glascowians complained about the dish he was served, being too dry.  The chef spiced it up with some tomato sauce and spices, and some other magic and the customer was delighted.  I doubt you will find this dish served as street food in India or in many Indian homes.  It is a Western-influenced dish and created in the UK.

I blame the Viking influences on this dish, even if it was invented 1100 years after the Vikings raided most parts of the Celtic regions of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England.  Remember, the Vikings traveled to the Middle East, and perhaps the Far East, and I’m certain they plundered the local spice market and brought back some Indian slaves.  These, in turn, traveled with the Vikings and I’m sure help prepare meals.  Far fetched, yes I know, but it is plausible.

Visiting India is absolutely on my bucket list.  One day I will go there with my family, and meet many of the great Indians I’ve worked with in the past decade.

Like most Indian dishes, spices are key.  You need to read through the ingredient list before you start cooking, as I’m pretty sure you do not have these already on your spice shelf.  Unless you, of course, is an avid Indian dish maker.

I’ve also broken this dish into a few sections, to simplify the process and making sure that you get the most out of this experience.

It takes time to prepare and cook great meals.  Patience is a virtue.

Enough talking and dreaming, let’s get cooking.

The Masala Marinade, making love to chicken (that came out wrong!)

  • 4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 6 cloves of garlic freshly minced or 4 teaspoons of minced garlic for a jar
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika

The seductive Tomato Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely cubbed
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly minced ginger yes, more ginger)
  • 8 cloves of garlic, freshly minced or 6 teaspoons of minced garlic for a jar
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons of ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of garam masala
  • 2 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • 4 cups of tomato sauce – large can of tomato sauce, low or no sodium
  • 1 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 cup of heavy cream

Assuming you have all the above ingredients ready, we can now start the process of creating this wonderful dish.  I know it sounds corny, but this is where the lovemaking starts, and where you really get the flavors worked into the breasts and smoothen that tomato sauce.

Get out your Katana, Global knife, or any other regular kitchen cleaver.  The bigger the knife, the more like a Viking you feel 🙂

  1. Slice the chicken breasts into little bite-sized cubes, and put aside
  2. Chop both ginger and garlic
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cumin, garam masal, and paprika – make sure the ingredients are well mixed
  4. Add the chicken pieces, and stir around until all pieces are coated.
  5. Cover the bowl and let it marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  The longer the better, so if you can marinate overnight, perfect.
  6. Once marinaded, preheat the oven to 500 Fahrenheit
  7. Skewer the chicken cubes on wooden or metal skewers
  8. Grab your favorite roasting tray, and cover the bottom with tinfoil
  9. Let the skewers ‘hang’ from the sides of the roasting tray, so they can drip into the tray and so that they get baked all around
  10. Let them bake for about 12-14 minutes until they are dark brown on the corners/edges
  11. When ready, take them out and let them rest on the counter
  12. When cool enough to touch, take them off the skewers

Time to make the yummy tomato sauce while the chicken is roasting or resting on the kitchen counter.

At this point, you should also start preparing your boiled basmati rice.  I’m not going to explain how to boil rice.  We use a $25 rice boiler, which has been a great investment, and I can highly recommend investing in such an appliance.

  1. Use a large pan, with high sides.  I prefer my Le Creuset pan
  2. Add the vegetable oil, and heat it up on medium
  3. Gently fry the ginger, garlic, and onions … not browned just translucent
  4. Add the magic spices; coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, chili, and garam masala
  5. Only heat and mix the spices for less than a minute, and you can smell your kitchen filled with the amazing flavors
  6. Next, you add the tomato puree and sauce
  7. Add the water
  8. Bring it to a slight boil, while stirring
  9. Cook (boil) it for about 5-6 minutes
  10. Pour in the cream and the sauce will change color to a creamer red
  11. Lower the heat to a light simmer
  12. Add the chicken pieces, and let this mixture simmer for about 5 minutes

If you made it this far, it means you have completed your first Indian dish, or at least your first homemade Chicken Tikka Masala.

It is best served with boiled white rice and sprinkled with some freshly chopped cilantro, or coriander as we call it back in the Viking homeland.

You could buy naan bread in the local shop, or you could make your own following my recipe.  Either warm, warm naan bread is absolutely amazing with this dish, and you soak or spoon up the sauce with a piece of bread.

It is a mild Indian spiced dish, so many people might want to add some hot sauce or chili oil, but please do that for individual servings to avoid unhappy kids.

I wonder why my Indian friends and Indian readers might say to this dish, and perhaps they can add some more history to the origin of the dish.

Do the Indians even eat this dish or is it considered bad food?

viking masala
The Viking version of the Chicken Tikka Masala

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