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Very bland tikka masala: help


Lesley65
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My tikka marsala is bland, not spicey and has no heat. 
For the sauce I used onions, garlic, coriander, turmeric, tomatoes, chicken stock cube and coconut milk; with ground almonds & coriander, and  quite a lot of salt, but only half a red chilli (not a lot I now know, this is my first attempt so I didn’t want to go overboard).

can anyone suggest a fix? I’m on holidays and I don’t have a full pantry so any solution might have to be creative...

Cheers Lesley65 🤩

(I’ve attached the list of ingredients, I hope?!)

F5C79069-510D-4C1A-AC93-4F4C0533D447.jpeg

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You don't say what kind of chillies you used, but half a chilli is 1/10th of what the recipe asks for - and that recipe is for a mild dish. You aren't going to get spicy with so little of most chillies.

 

I wouldn't use olive oil in this dish, either. What the heck are "jammy lemons"?

 

P.S. It's tikka masala. Marsala is a Sicilian wine.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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Additional to @liuzhou’s suggestion I would review the spices you have at hand. If you are on holidays and using most likely stale spices there is very little chance to get a well spiced dish.

You can amp the amount of spices, maybe get a fresh jar of Garam Masala to get at least some aroma into the dish. And if it is “just “ the heat you are lacking, grate the chilis you have at hand and add by the teaspoon while tasting …

Edited by Duvel (log)
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It sounds like you're trying to fix the dish you've already made, but, in the future, you might want to try another recipe for CTM.

I don't have the definitive CTM recipe (yet), but, any good restaurant style CTM will have ginger, cumin and sugar/honey in the sauce. The fact that this recipe omits all of these is not a good sign, imo.

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4 hours ago, scott123 said:

I don't have the definitive CTM recipe (yet), but, any good restaurant style CTM will have ginger, cumin and sugar/honey in the sauce. The fact that this recipe omits all of these is not a good sign, imo.

 

Agreed. It is a strange recipe. I wonder where it came from.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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3 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

Agreed. It is a strange recipe. I wonder whre it came from.

 

The game is afoot! 

 

Based on the weight of the chicken that's given just in grams, plus the author's calling the dish a "brilliant curry," it's almost certainly from the UK. The chapter is titled "Nostalgia." Any thoughts about that?

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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53 minutes ago, Alex said:

 

The game is afoot! 

 

Based on the weight of the chicken that's given just in grams, plus the author's calling the dish a "brilliant curry," it's almost certainly from the UK. The chapter is titled "Nostalgia." Any thoughts about that?

 

Yes, I know the dish is from the UK. I meant which book or magazine. Anyway chicken tikka masala is British; not Indian although it has been imported there in a few restaurants.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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31 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

Yes, I know it's from the UK. I meant which book or magazine. Anyway chicken tikka masala is British; not Indian although it has been imported there in a few restaurants.

While it was invented in the UK (I assume London), it has definitely been here in the US for a long time.  So you'll definitely see US Indian cookbooks with it - but I imagine that the measurements wouldn't be in grams.

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If you have whole cumin, etc - toast those spices before using and grind.  Also I would amp up the amount of spice they call for.  Also grate the ginger, slices will not impart nearly as much flavour.  Same for your whole chili's, as noted above.

 

Also, from my slowly growing knowledge on Indian cooking, they typically use heavy cream rather than coconut milk.  I tend to reserve the coconut milk for Thai curries.

 

 

 

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53 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

Anyway chicken tikka masala is British; not Indian although it has been imported there in a few restaurants.

 

The concept that CTM is of British origin is disputed.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_tikka_masala#Origins

 

CTM effectively is butter chicken, an authentic Indian dish that predates any CTM origin story by at least 20 years.  The idea that, up until the 1960s, no Indian chef had ever made a tomato based chicken curry is kind of ridiculous- and a bit provincial, to be honest.

20 years ago, CTM's origin was strictly the Glasgwegian Campbell's soup nonsense, and, now, as you can see from Wikipedia, it's a mixture of viewpoints.  Hopefully, in another 20 years, the Glaswegian garbage will be completely forgotten. I can sort of understand how the British would want to take ownership of one of their favorite foods, but, it's belittling to the cultural contribution of the subcontinent.

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30 minutes ago, TicTac said:

If you have whole cumin, etc - toast those spices before using and grind.  Also I would amp up the amount of spice they call for.  Also grate the ginger, slices will not impart nearly as much flavour.  Same for your whole chili's, as noted above.

 

Also, from my slowly growing knowledge on Indian cooking, they typically use heavy cream rather than coconut milk.  I tend to reserve the coconut milk for Thai curries.

 

 

 

Many Indian recipes that I've seen (from India) use a ginger/garlic paste.  Cut the ginger into chunks if tender or large dice if not so much and bash in a mortar/pestle.

 

Heavy cream is typical in Northern Indian recipes - which are the most common in the US.  But southern Indian food uses a lot of coconut milk... and curry leaves.

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8 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

Haha. I'm being referred to Wikipedia again. When will people learn?

 

I didn't mention anything about it being Glaswegian.

 

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ylx1NCyJgBUJ:https://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/5972643/Chicken-tikka-masala-row-grows-as-Indian-chefs-reprimand-Scottish-MPs-over-culinary-origins.html&hl=en&gl=us&strip=1&vwsrc=0

 

Quote

The move is based on the claim by Ahmed Aslam Ali to have invented the dish at his Shish Mahal restaurant in Glasgow. "We used to make chicken tikka and one day a customer said 'I'd take some sauce with that, this is a bit dry' so we cooked chicken tikka with the sauce which contains yoghurt, cream, spices," he said.

 

But his claim has been dismissed as "preposterous" by Delhi's leading food historians, although its exact origin remains unclear.

 

Zaeemuddin Ahmad, a chef at Delhi's Karim Hotel, which was established by the last chef of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, said the recipe had been passed down through the generations in his family.

 

"Chicken tikka masala is an authentic Mughlai recipe prepared by our forefathers who were royal chefs in the Mughal period. Mughals were avid trekkers and used to spend months altogether in jungles and far off places. They liked roasted form of chickens with spices," he said.

 

Rahul Verma, Delhi's most authoritative expert on street food, said he first tasted the dish in 1971 and that its origins were in Punjab. "Its basically a Punjabi dish not more than 40-50 years old and must be an accidental discovery which has had periodical improvisations," he said.

 

Hemanshu Kumar, the founder of Eating Out in Delhi, a food group which celebrates Delhi's culinary heritage, ridiculed Glasgow's claim. "Patenting the name chicken tikka masala is out of the question. It has been prepared in India for generations. You can't patent the name, it's preposterous," he said.

 

Edited by scott123 (log)
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9 minutes ago, KennethT said:

Many Indian recipes that I've seen (from India) use a ginger/garlic paste.  Cut the ginger into chunks if tender or large dice if not so much and bash in a mortar/pestle.

 

Heavy cream is typical in Northern Indian recipes - which are the most common in the US.  But southern Indian food uses a lot of coconut milk... and curry leaves.

I kind of guessed that the South probably used more Coconut milk due to climatic allowances.

 

no wonder my curry leaves taste so good in coconut milk curries!

 

Alternatively to the above method, use a microplane for the ginger.  I freeze my ginger and its so easy to do this way.  Just melts into the dish.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

Yes. I know the.story.

 

But I've no idea what relevance it has here. 

 

I have eaten butter chicken in India and Chicken Ticket Marsala in both England and Hong Kong. They are not the same dish.


You made the claim that CTM isn't Indian.  I'm showing you multiple Delhiite food historians who strongly disagree.

As far as butter chicken and CTM being different dishes, neither dish is a static entity.  There are as many variations to either dish as there are Indian chefs.  The two dishes only have 4 defining components- chicken, tomatoes, some form of cream (dairy or coconut) and the typical Indian aromatics (onion, garlic, ginger). When you strip the dishes down to their common components, they are identical.  

If they are truly different dishes, tell me one ingredient that butter chicken always has that CTM never has- or vice versa.  You can't.

Edited by scott123 (log)
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1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

I have eaten...Chicken Ticket Marsala in both England and Hong Kong. 

 

I'd eat that! Protein, plant fiber, and a bit of alcohol—what's not to like?

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"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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11 hours ago, Lesley65 said:

My tikka marsala is bland, not spicey and has no heat. 
For the sauce I used onions, garlic, coriander, turmeric, tomatoes, chicken stock cube and coconut milk; with ground almonds & coriander, and  quite a lot of salt, but only half a red chilli (not a lot I now know, this is my first attempt so I didn’t want to go overboard).

can anyone suggest a fix? I’m on holidays and I don’t have a full pantry so any solution might have to be creative...

Cheers Lesley65 🤩

(I’ve attached the list of ingredients, I hope?!)

F5C79069-510D-4C1A-AC93-4F4C0533D447.jpeg

Old spices are probably to blame. Also using powdered spices instead of crushing/grinding whole spices will make it bland.

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If I understand @Lesley65 is looking to fix a completed dish described as bland, not spicy and having no heat.  @Lesley65 is apparently lacking a full pantry but does not disclose what is available. At this point, use of sub-par spices might be challenging to fix. 
I'd just try to balance the dish for salt, acid and sweetness with salt, lemon or lime juice and sugar or honey. I don’t think of CTM as having a lot of heat but go ahead with some hot sauce if one you like is available. A bit of tomato paste/concentrated tomato purée could help on the sweet/sour side. Dip out a little sauce to play with seasoning if you need to before mucking up the whole batch. Then serve with a bright fresh cilantro (coriander)/mint/green chile chutney, raita, rice, naan or roti. 

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I have made a lot of chicken tikka masala following @Monica Bhide’s recipe. I have never used sugar or honey or any other sweetening.  And the spice level is quite mild.
Even when I have occasionally ordered it in a restaurant I don’t find it to have much heat.
 

I expect that like most dishes there are just about as many versions as there are cooks who make it.

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It’s hard to fix a dish like that without being able to taste it, but. . .

 

I agree with blue dolphin, I think the sauce would benefit from some tomato paste.   Looking at the time of the cook on the sauce canned tomato without paste tends to taste watery after that short a cook.  If I was cooking it, I would probably add another teaspoon of cumin.   Cumin tolerances vary greatly, but I find cookbooks written by folks who didn’t grow up cooking Indian food tend to err on the side of caution with cumin.   The choice of smoked paprika is an odd one for Indian food.  And I love, love, love smoked paprika.   If I was making it, I probably would have used a tablespoon of paprika, if I used smoked.

 

That said blue dolphin’s advice is solid.  Try these changes in a small amount of the chicken rather than risking something inedible.

 

I’d also use a different cookbook for Indian food going forward.   Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbooks are pretty solid

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