2 for 1 - Chicken Tikka and Chicken Tikka Masala

Make this for an entree..

Restaurant style Chikken Tikka cooked in a
frying pan

Recipe from The Curry Secret

And get this too for the main course!

Chicken Tikka Masala without the artificial colourings

Then rustle up a little comfort food for the distressed gardner...

Easy Hazelnut and Choc Chip Cookies

Disaster strikes. Everything is shrivelled. Nature’s been hard but also provides the remedies.......


Notes from diary, early November 2008. What will I find? I’m too impatient to even help unload the car, I go straight down to the veggie garden.

Oh no! Everything and I mean EVERYTHING, is stunted and shrivelled, leaves and stems covered with blotches of white-grey powder. Growth completely and utterly halted. The turnip leaves, the peas, beans, melons, pumpkins and sweet corn, even the tagetes (French marigolds) that (are supposed to) keep nasty bugs at bay - absolutely everything has succumbed to this terrible affliction. I examine them all in disbelief. Nothing is spared. I could cry.

Forlornly I stagger back up to the cottage. My husband has just unloaded the last of the bags, eskies and all the other things we cart to and fro. I almost drag him down the hill to show him what’s happened. He’s sympathetic but optimistic that they’ll recover. I don't share his optimism right now. I want to get onto my laptop and diagnose what it is and what can be done about it, but there is unpacking to do, a hoard of dead bugs to vacuum off the carpet and the dog’s hassling for his dinner. I plug in the old combination microwave that should have been thrown out years ago, programme the clock (It won’t work until you do that), find his dinner from the bottom of the esky, warm it up for him (he throws up if you don't), add a little olive oil and a doggy vitamin pill whilst he scurries around my ankles. Tonight he’s having chicken risotto, but he also loves mackerel or tuna with rice and veggies, a little steak and occasionally roast lamb. Roast free range chicken with all the trimmings is his absolute favourite. My kids reckon he eats better than they do. Apart from a little dry food that I give him daily to keep his teeth clean, he won’t eat dog food. I spoil him.

As soon as I’ve got my computer going, I do a Google search “powdery covering on leaves”. I soon confirm that I have, or rather the vegetables have, powdery mildew, a fungal infection that is fairly common during a wet, cold spring (like the weather that descended on us last week). I do another search for “organic treatment for powdery mildew” and am pleased to find there are several simple things that have been shown to be effective, although it seems more as preventatives rather than cures. The simplest one is manure tea, so I go back down and douse everything with copious amounts of the manure tea that I always have brewing down in the veggie patch.

Another treatment tested by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney is sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). A mixture of 2 tsp of sodium bicarbonate dissolved in a litre of water with a drop of washing up liquid to help spread the mixture and ½ tsp of vegetable oil to fix the mixture onto the leaves and stems of the plant when it dries. The sodium bicarbonate makes the plant surface too alkaline for the germination of fungal spores. The mixture should be sprayed onto susceptible plants about once a week or after rain to prevent the fungus getting hold. It seems a bit late, it’s already got a hold but tomorrow I’ll wage war on this rotten organism with baking soda and a spray bottle!

For now it’s past dinner time and whilst the dog is well fed, we’re starving. I’m glad I did some preparation the night before. Tangy Marinated Chicken with Spicy Lentils topped with Coriander and Lime Relish is a very tasty ‘fusion’ dish I created a while ago for some curry sceptics. It’s great with a glass or two of rosé. We’ll sleep well after this.

I’m aware that kindness can kill but doing things by halves has never been my strong point. Manure tea, baking soda mix, liquid seaweed, fish emulsion, over the next days, I do the lot! I take out a few of the more sickly looking beans and put in some more seed, but apart from cutting off a few very badly affected leaves, everything remains. I also spend two days, fly veil over my head (the flies are driving me mad) fixing lengths of shade cloth to the fence to serve as a wind break. Not only are fungal spores spread by wind, but most plants can’t handle the strong winds we’re getting here.

I’ve actually managed to pick some rocket that looks fine and tastes wonderful and white, pink and purple radishes that range from mild to quite peppery hot, yummy. You can’t buy these in the shops! I'm starting to feel a bit more upbeat.

We extend the fence and the watering system to cover the remaining beds and do some more mulching and planting. By the time we leave at the end of November everything is looking much happier.

I’m glad I wasn’t tempted to use chemicals as these often cause other problems. They can affect beneficial micro organisms in the soil, and can kill pollinators, like bees, and other useful insects that help control pests. It appears the ingredients for some effective organic remedies are hiding in the kitchen.

Let's cook something nice to celebrate.

Chicken Tikka and Chicken Tikka Masala

Ask for a Chicken Tikka Masala anywhere in India, and it is likely that all you will get is a blank look. 'Going out for a curry' is not an Indian pastime but in the West, and Britain in particular, it is a ritual that many people relish with gusto. Chicken Tikka Masala is reportedly the most frequently consumed dish in Britain and is even more popular than Fish and Chips.

Chicken Tikka Masala is probably more than any other restaurant dish, a hybrid of Indian and western tastes: tikka is a morsel of roasted meat, traditionally eaten without curry sauce or ‘gravy’, a practice seemingly unattractive to western palates. The ‘Masala’ part of the dish is the western touch that possibly came about in Glasgow in the 1960’s when a long-suffering Indian chef mixed some spices and yoghurt into canned tomato soup and presented his ever complaining customers with the sauce they demanded. The rest, as they say is history.

With a few enhancements since that fateful time, the dish has become an icon of Indian restaurant cuisine. Indeed, in 2001, Britain’s foreign minister Robin Cook declared it to be Britain’s “national dish” and the British consume vast amounts of it each week. It is in fact even more popular than fish and chips.

There are many recipes for Chicken Tikka Masala. The one below is easy to prepare and quite delicious as many readers of The Curry Secret have attested. Start by making a double quantity of chicken tikka to serve as a starter and combine the remainder with the creamy, subtly spiced curry sauce to make the famous masala dish. 2 for 1.

You won't get the deep orangey red colour with this recipe as I prefer not to use the artificial red and yellow food colourings that a lot of Indian chefs seem to be attached to, but rest assured the flavour does not suffer.

Prepare the chicken (and masala 'sauce' if you like) the day before and let it gently marinate in your fridge over night.

Chicken Tikka - served sizzling

Succulent chunks of chicken marinated in yoghurt and spices, skewered and cooked quickly at high heat in a tandoor, or in this case, an electric fry pan, make a delicious and impressive starter. It's so easy to make you have to wonder what all the fuss is about.

Serves 4. Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes (plus marinating time).

6 large chicken fillets
8 tbsp good quality plain yogurt
½ - 1 tsp red chilli powder, to taste
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika

To serve: 1 large brown onion sliced into chunks, little olive oil to drizzle, lemon juice, fresh coriander, yoghurt mint sauce

  • Rinse and trim the chicken fillets and slice each one into largish bite sized chunks.
  • Place all the remaining ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
  • Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix again, making sure that all the pieces are well coated with the yogurt. Cover and refrigerate for 4–6 hours or over night.
  • Preheat the oven to its maximum temperature or heat a barbecue, teppanyaki plate or heavy based frying pan.
  • If cooking in the oven, place the chicken pieces, shaking off excess marinade, onto a rack in a shallow baking tray in a single layer and bake near the top of the oven for 10 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Or place chicken pieces on to a hot teppenyaki plate or fry pan cook for about 7 minutes, turning once or twice, until cooked through. Be careful not overcrowd and chicken pieces. They need to cook quickly without stewing.
  • Reserve about half of the chicken for the next dish and serve the remainder like this:-
Let's sizzle!!
While the chicken is just finishing cooking, heat a sizzler dish or cast iron frying pan over medium to high heat until very hot. Keeping the dish or pan on the heat, spread your onion chunks roughly over the surface. Working quickly, pile your cooked chicken pieces over the onion and (this is what starts it all) pour a little olive oil to the side of the pan or dish and lift one end of it slightly so that it rolls down to the other side. It starts to sizzle. Now let's finish what we started. Sprinkle some lemon juice over. Now it really starts to sizzle and wow! Doesn't it smell absolutely wonderful? Sprinkle over the coriander and serve immediately to your surprised guests.
I bet they didn't expect this.
Tip: reserve about a tablespoon of the marinade for the next dish.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Don't even think about buying a ready made paste or sauce for this, they give Indian food a bad name. With a very little effort you can have the real thing. You will already have some chicken tikka ready to go so all you have to do is prepare a version of my Curry Secret curry sauce and you will work some magic you didn't know you could.

It's easy...

The Quick Version of the Curry Secret curry sauce. Fry 2-3 brown onions in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil until transparent. Stir in 2 cloves chopped garlic and about 1 tsp grated ginger and continue to fry for a couple more minutes. Add 1 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp salt and stir through. Add 2 tsp tomato paste and half a tin of tomatoes. Cook stirring for 2-3 minutes and add enough warm water to cover the mixture well - about a litre. Simmer half covered for 45 minutes to an hour. Cool slightly and blend until smooth. I use my stick blender for this but a jug blender is even better if you're not bothered by the washing up. Done.

Serves 3 – 4.

Preparation and cooking time: 15 minutes.

4 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground cumin
2 cups (500ml) of the curry sauce you just made (remaining sauce can be frozen)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 level tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp garam masala (optional)
Chicken Tikka prepared as above
6 tbsp single cream
1 tbsp reserved marinade
1 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
  • Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan, and stir in the cumin. Fry for a few seconds and add the curry sauce. Bring the sauce to the boil.
  • Add the paprika, salt, chilli powder and ground coriander and continue to cook on high heat stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
  • Turn down the heat and stir in the garam masala . Simmer for about 3 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, slice each piece of chicken tikka into two and add to the sauce. Stir in the cream and simmer for a further 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the reserved marinade and simmer for at least one more minute.

    Serve sprinkled with the coriander accompanied by pilau rice and nan bread. Yum!
Easy Hazelnut and Choc Chip Cookies
Well, a girl needs to indulge occasionally. These are brilliant with a cup of my home-made flat white made from locally roasted coffee beans and organic milk.
Makes about 30

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes

90g plain organic flour
90g hazelnut meal
110g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
50g cold butter, chopped into pieces
2 egg whites, preferably free range, beaten
½ tsp vanilla essence
½ cup chocolate chips
  • Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  • Place flour, hazelnut meal, sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Do not over process. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Beat egg whites and vanilla essence together until frothy and stir into flour and hazelnut mixtureand bring it together until you have a firm dough.
  • Shape into a log and chill for 30 minutes or so if you have time - this just makes it easier to handle. Slice thinly and press choc chips into each biscuit.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, swapping trays around from top to bottom half way through.
  • Leave in the oven for a further 3 minutes and then remove. Sprinkle with a little caster sugar. Cool slightly and transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Enjoy.


Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Hi Kris! I'm so glad I found your blog as I LOVE your cookbook the New Curry Secret!! The best dinner I've ever had came from your book, so thank you!!

Sorry to hear about the powdery mildew on your garden this year. I suffered from it as well, it wiped out my zucchini and butternut squash crops this year. Next year I'll try the baking powder soap trick. (it was way too late in the year to salvage the plants this year, unfortunately).

You have a fantastic blog, thanks for sharing your great recipes with us all!