You know that feeling that you get when you walk into a really good, old-fashioned candy store. And the wall is decked with remnants of your past?

Those candy buttons.

The little wax bottles filled with that eerily neon-colored liquid.

Pop rocks.

There’s this feeling of elation and relief at being thrown back to what was, if memory serves you right, a simpler time. Remember when your biggest worry was who was going to be “it” in your neighborhood game of tag? Those were the days.

And also. Hope. Because hey. The stuff that made the “good ol’ days” so. Well. Good. Can still be procured! Maybe this new generation stands a chance after all! I mean, if they can appreciate the beauty of root beer barrels and Mary Janes, then all can’t be lost. Right?

Of course. There is also nostalgia. And a touch of sadness. Because this is not really present day, status quo kind of stuff. This is a blast from the past time warp. And you have this sinking feeling that it can’t last forever. No. You are dreaming. You will wake up (next to a pile of candy wrappers. And with a mild case of indigestion.) and have to go back to a life filled the modern-day confections that. Honestly. Kind of pale in comparison.
I think that this is how Nigel Slater felt while writing Eating For England, the book we are reading this month for Cook the Books. In it, Slater revisits dishes from England’s past. From his memory. From his childhood. He comments on how things were and how things have changed.

He describes at least twelve different types of biscuits. (Bourbons being, apparently, the best.)

Really. I’ve never seen someone get so worked up over biscuits.

In all, I would say that the book is a celebration of the English culinary history. The good. The bad. The ugly.

Which begs the question. Chicken tikka masala? Really?

Um. Yeah. Really.

Chicken tikka masala is actually the national dish of England. (According to Robin Cook, a former British Foreign Secretary). It is the number one dish ordered at restaurants there. And, to be fair, I understand why. It is Indian food for people who “don’t like Indian food” (Mom? Dad? You reading this?). It is creamy. Spicy. Delicious. Globalized fusion food heaven.

How would Slater feel about this? I daresay he’d be pretty irritated at me. (What about Yorkshire puddings, he would say! Or treacle tarts! Couldn’t you make one of those!)

Well. Like I said before. We can’t hold onto the past forever. Especially not when the future tastes this good.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 4, adapted from Meeta over at What’s For Lunch, Honey?

1 1/2 lb chicken thighs
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Tomato Gravy
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup half and half
2 cloves garlic
1 dried chili de arbol
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp butter
salt and pepper

Mix all of the ingredients for the marination in a large bowl. Thoroughly mix until the chicken is nicely coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

On the next day, heat your broiler to high. Place the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 10-15 minutes.

To prepare the gravy, heat a large skillet to medium and melt the butter (or ghee if you have it). SautΓ© the garlic and chopped chili until fragrant. Sprinkle the ground cumin, paprika powder and a pinch of salt. SautΓ© for a further minute or two until the mixture turns into a paste-like texture.

Pour in the canned tomatoes, scraping the bottom of the skillet to deglaze it and to release any bits stuck to the pan. Simmer uncovered for approx. 10-15 minutes on low heat until the sauces begins to thicken, then add the grilled chicken pieces and cream/milk. Simmer for a further 10 minutes, thickening the sauce further and to heat the chicken and cream through.

Serve sprinkled with fresh chopped cilantro and cardamom-infused rice.

This is my submission to Cook The Books!

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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81 Responses to Chicken Tikka Masala – Cook the Books

  1. I love chicken tikka masala and this looks mouthwatering…

  2. Hey i jus simmered some Tikka Masala style, veggie with Cottage cheese, green peas et all…delicious….
    U deliciousness inspires me to take a pic too:-))
    ANd ofcourse i love candy stores too……..

  3. Looks perfect and yummm!!! Yes it a perfect No.1 globalized fusion food today!

  4. This looks really good, nice flavors!

    Candy buttons are pretty much all I can think about now though!

  5. Shannon says:

    haha, i used to like those candy cigarettes–PURE sugar! lovely dish, i need to make it myself πŸ™‚

  6. Lovely post as always. I love Mary janes. I have atleast half a dozen pairs. And great recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala.It look creamy, rich and delicious indeed!

  7. Little Inbox says:

    Yum yum! I know this one will suit my tastes buds pretty much!

  8. Ty'sMommy says:

    I am SO with you on this Joanne! I made traditonal British food for my post, but I couldn’t help feeling it was kinda….well….boring. I’d take a good Tikka Masala any day over the Treacle Tart I made. Looks yummy!

  9. Tasha says:

    This is a dish I’ve been wanting to try for a while now. You definitely have me wanting to make it soon! Looks so delicious!

  10. SE says:

    lovely, yummy, tasty !!!

  11. elra says:

    I love chiken tikka masala, you did it well Jo. It looks tempting!

  12. Marisa says:

    Love chicken tikka!

  13. polwig says:

    My husband and I love Indian food… now I don’t need to order πŸ˜‰

  14. Amy says:

    Pop Rocks! Oh man, there’s a trip down memory lane. Actually, when I was in…maybe the 6th grade…my girlfriend and I would walk (for what seemed like a million years, but was actually only 20 minutes) to this little candy shop down the road from our houses. Wall to wall candy. It was a dream for a kid. I would save up my pennies and buy as many lemon drops as my pockets would hold. Good times.

    Chicken Tikka Masala is an awesome dish. And you’re right, it’s perfect for people who really aren’t into Indian food (which would be my family, too.) Although it does have cumin, which is very Indian and my parents avoid like the plague.

  15. Marcia says:

    Joanne, this looks amazing. And it also looks like I have everything in my house except the chicken. And the dried chile. Which I’d have to leave out (4 year old in the house). I am definitely going to try making this. Maybe even this week. Before trying any new recipes from my new issue of Vegetarian Times. That’s how good this looks.

  16. I first came to know about this dish when I worked in a North Indian Restaurant. Your dish looks so much better than the one in the restaurant. Must be very flavourful! πŸ˜‰

  17. Kelsey says:

    national dish of england! omg i totally guessed it would be india! crazy….
    i love chicken masala; especially the spices! i can taste it already! love cumin and coriander.. fenugreek is really good too!
    oh and ur so right about the nostalgia of old candy stores. there’s one downtown and everytime i go in i blow 50$ worth of candy on family and friends.. and myself obviously! last time i was in there i found these little minty/licorice breath mint things my mom used to tell me about- she had them growing up but could never found them. the candy store actually had them so i suprised her- she almost cried hehe.

  18. Angie says:

    This looks great. Its funny how uch the brits love Indian food.

  19. Erica says:

    I love Indian food!!! This is one of my favorite Indian dishes……This looks absolutely delicious.

  20. so true about the candy….they just opened a great little old time candy store downtown that i have go to visit…..your food looks great too!

  21. Raina says:

    Funny about the candy…I loved Pop Rocks with Coke..LOL. I guess I felt it made them pop even more. I am really surprised to hear this dish is so popular in England. I have heard of this but never tried. I have been wanting to try Indian food. This looks like the perfect way to start. Great pics! Thanks!

  22. Katerina says:

    I believe we are all going through a Tikka Masala phase. This dish is a lot in fashion lately. I have never tried it, but yours looks really good. I think I have to make it so as to be able to form an opinion.

  23. teresa says:

    i really need to try this. i have seen it all over the place, and it looks so good, but i’ve never had it. i love the i learn something every time i read your blog!

  24. Gulmohar says:

    Lovely post…I like tikka madala a lot, one of the most popular Punjabi dish πŸ™‚

  25. I get a headache just thinking about all the candy I ate as a child. I was into chocolate… not really a fan of pop rocks and pixie sticks.

    This looks like wonderful soul food. I may have to try a vegetarian version of this.

    And the plate that you served it in is stunning!

  26. Nadji says:

    Un plat qui semble dΓ©licieux.
    A bientΓ΄t.

  27. Mari says:

    That looks amazing! You might have to make a tofu version for me lol

  28. Juliana says:

    Joanne, I love chicken tikka masala, as a matter of fact is one the dishes that we always order at the local Indian restaurant…yours sure look so yummie and the pictures as awesome πŸ™‚

  29. Julie says:

    i think kids are doomed these days haha. sad but true. they don’t know nuttin about kick the can and late night man hunt.

    they SHOULD know about your cooking skillz though πŸ˜‰

  30. Lea Ann says:

    I’ve been wanting to make this forever. I had no idea it was so popular in England. Go figure.

  31. Yummy! Well I dare say it is numero uno in England; what would you rather have? this or boiled meat with peas and carrots?
    I want to make this Joanne and I think I can I have got all that I need here.

  32. Faith says:

    That’s so interesting that Chicken Tikka Masala is the national dish of England! I’ve actually eaten it there, and I have to say it was definitely the best I’ve ever had. Love this recipe — especially the marinade!

  33. Mary says:

    Your chicken tikka looks marvelous. As to the muffin man – I hear you can find him on Drury Lane. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  34. Krista says:

    You gave me such a warm happy feeling with your talk of old-fashioned, beloved candies. πŸ™‚ And I LOVE the English dishes and think I seriously need to make biscuits one of these days. The chicken tikka looks so so good!!

  35. looks wonderful and i need this book !

  36. shankari says:

    Chicken tikka is an Indian dish – which is basically spicy grilled chicken. The legend is that a Britisher walked into a restaurant & orderedChicken tikka, and when grilled chicken was placed before him, he asked where was the sauce. The chef added tomato sauce brought it back to the table and Chicken tikka masala was born πŸ™‚

  37. Lynn says:

    This sounds delicious, especially that tomato gravy. Yum! It sounds like an interesting book you’re reading, too πŸ™‚

  38. I love the new design Jo!! Getting back into the blog game πŸ™‚

  39. Ever use pop rocks in a dish? It is a wonderful addition to many desserts. Love your dish. Wonderful tomato gravy. Chili de arbol makes everything better.


  40. I want to bring you here to cook for me…gosh I love Chicken Tikka Masala, especially when it is home made. That dash of cinnamon adds oh so much to the flavor. xo

  41. Radhika says:

    Looks delcious! I just saw the Cook the books website and its such a cool concept, I might try participating the next time!

  42. Noemi says:

    I love chicken tikka masala. This looks amazing!

  43. Chris says:

    You are too young to be nostalgic, aren’t you? (ha ha)

    I have never had chicken tikka masala but it looks delicious.

  44. Danielle says:

    oh man does this sound good! but i kinda wanna live in that candy store.

  45. Azita says:

    I love Indian food and this chicken tikka masala looks wonderful and very tasty.

  46. Kim says:

    The words “tomato gravy” sound so delicious, don’t they? This is one tasty looking meal Joanne. I’ve been wanting to make Chicken TIki Masala for awhile now and this is a big push in that direction. Great choice for Cook the Books.

  47. Deborah says:

    How funny that this is the national dish of England! I’m cooking Indian food this month, so this is looking really great to me right now!

  48. PJ says:

    chicken tikka masala looks so delicious and yummy! i think a perfect recipe for this cook the books edition.

  49. Cynthia says:

    I love those retro candies too! I think the younger generation is hopeless unfortunately ;). I have heard that chicken tikka masala is England’s national dish! Apparently it was created in Indian from British colonials in India who thought the Indian food was too spicy and so they created something that was more palatable to British people. That’s what I’ve heard anyway, not sure about the truth behind that. This looks so delicious! When I need to make Indian food I’ll definitely have to try this.

  50. Rosabela says:

    Man, does this ever look yummy! I’ve never tried it before. Will have to try it. Thanks for sharing!

  51. sra says:

    You know Joanne, a chef in Scotland tried to patent/get GI for chicken tikka masala as being a Scottish dish and we Indians were all suitably outraged! πŸ˜€

    I read a report a few months ago that Chinese food beat Indian and Thai to become the current British national favourite!

  52. Debinhawaii says:

    Fun post and a great pick for Eating for England. Slater certainly loves his indulgent comfort food, candy and childhood favorites. πŸ˜‰ I love chicken tikka masala and England has some of the best Indian food.

  53. Mary,,very nice colourful chicken curry n creamy adding half n half interesting dear..

  54. tigerfish says:

    I’m drooling right now! But I have not cooked it before! Will have to make an effort soon.

  55. Johanna says:

    You are so right about Tikka Masala! I didn’t even think they make it in India :-). Great entry and good luck (Foodjunkie)

  56. Kristen says:

    The best Indian food I ever had was in the British Isles, so why not make Tikka Masala their national dish! Looks like a wonderful dish…accessible for the non-traveler, home bound homemaker. Thanks, Joanne.

  57. Pam says:

    I loved pop rocks!

    I’ve never had Tikka Masala before but it looks and sounds amazing.

  58. Suman says:

    delicious chicken tikka masala…so appetizing..

  59. Barbara says:

    Hmmm. I find it hard to believe that Chicken tikka masala is the national dish in GB. How about fool? Or trifle? Or Yorkshire pudding? I think perhaps he meant in restaurants only. I bet when at home, Chicken tikka masala is not on the menu with any regularity.
    But it sure looks good. If someone wants to make it for me, I’ll try it! πŸ™‚

  60. Toni says:

    Huh. Indian food for people who don’t like indian food. I maintain a fairly consistent stance on the fence between liking it and not liking it. I guess I’ll have to try this. Oh darn. How sad.

  61. Mo Diva says:

    i adore chicken tikka masala and had NO idea it was an english dish! weird.
    But i still like indian food!!!
    so bring it on!

  62. Mimi says:

    I sure love that stuff. Yum-o

  63. Andreas says:

    Yay for Birmingham. πŸ˜‰

  64. Kris says:

    I love these flavors. Love that platter too!

  65. Bridgett says:

    Sounds like a delicious, full flavored dish!

  66. Esi says:

    This looks so good. Love that marinade!

  67. The national dish of England? I would think Shepherd’s pie or bangers and mash…I’ve only had this a few times before and loved it. Never made it at home. Sure looks delicious! I wonder if I can pass this off on my parents!?

  68. “national dish of England” indeed! πŸ˜€ i’ve never made this dish, but it sounds like a fool proof dish even for dummies like me. must try next time πŸ˜‰

  69. sweetlife says:

    oh i love this dish, I love the sauce..almond milk and chili de great combo


  70. I never would have thought of this as an English food, but I guess it makes sense. Surprising to hear that it is the most frequently ordered food in British restaurants! Random.

    I want to state, for the record, that I liked, no loved, Indian food before it was popular. Like, twelve years ago. I was a crazy little eight year old begging for “ethnic gourmet” frozen dinners and to be taken to Indian places for treats. My favorite dish is palak paneer. Yum.

  71. This looks sensational! The marinade is a killer!

  72. Nicole, RD says:

    SLIGHTLY obsessed with Tikka Masala! Biz has a recipe that is out of this world, but the spice combos in this intrigue me! I’ll have to give it a shot, as I’m sure it’s wonderful!!

  73. MaryMoh says:

    Any mention of curry…both my hands are up πŸ˜€ I will literally drown my rice with curry. It’s just so delicious…mmm…makes my world go round πŸ˜€

  74. CTM. yes yes yes!
    my fiance is an indian food fiend and awhile ago we went into a bit of a frenzy, trying to find the perfect recipe for chicken tikka masala — our go-to favorite order, because he “couldn’t stand depending on others for his indian food fix anymore.” alas, we haven’t been able to find a good recipe…can’t wait to give this one a shot!

  75. Foodycat says:

    This looks much better than any chicken tikka masala I’ve seen in England!

  76. Simona says:

    As always, I enjoy reading your musings. And your chicken looks delicious! I am sure it would win over your parents after the first bites. As for Slater’s love of biscuits, I can see how it is difficult to relate to it, since there is nothing like them in the US.

  77. Your chicken looks wonderful, and I thank you for setting me straight. Here I thought it was an Indian dish. Silly me! LOL! Matters not, you make it look fabulous, and sound wonderful enough for me to sit down to. That’s good enough!

  78. Claudia says:

    You clever little contemplative. And yes, Chicken Tikka Masala is England today. I hear it referred to in contemporary fiction all the time. In the Inspector Lindsay novels, isn’t it one of Barb’s favorites? Now I’m encouraged to try it myself, for the very first time, as it sounds so good.

  79. girlichef says:

    Yum!! You know…I like getting nostalgic (sp?) about those good old days whenI would search the wall of candy and only have to spend nickels or dimes…ahhhhh. Chick-o-sticks were my fave πŸ˜‰

  80. Meat Trade says:

    So hearty and tempting – this recipe looks delicious. I think you’re right about the presentation; it looks amazingly hearty! Seems like this might be just the recipe to help me get over my own Chicken Tikka Masala. Thanks for sharing us your terrific post.:)

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