Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Britain's Favourite Dish

It's a matter of public record that the Chicken Tikka Masala (CTM) is Britain's favourite dish, a fact frequently dredged up by politicians keen to evidence just how multicultural cool Britannia really is... well done us, etc etc. And yet it's something I've never tried, not even back in the days when I did eat meat. Maybe I thought there was something a bit naff about going for the popular option (the same reason I never order cheesecake in restaurants). As legend has it, the dish was invented in a restaurant in Scotland in the 1980s, when I customer asked for some 'gravy' to go with his Chicken Tikka. The chef improvised with a tin of tomato soup, cream and spices, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Anyhoo, thinking it was a bit of shame not to have tried something so well know, I set about coming up with a veggie version. After a quick scan of a few different recipes, I realised that there's quite a lot of variation, and (perhaps not completely surprising given its gensis and popularity, so I decided to be guided by a combination of common sense, my own preferences, and what was in the fridge - the results are below. Once you've reconciled yourself to the fact that you'll have to wash the food processor, this is a remarkably simple fuss-free recipe to make. And if you're still not convinced, my own super picky mother ("Are you going to put the rice on the place with a little hold in the middle and put the curry in the hole? Because that's how I like it") was so impressed that she made it again for herself a couple of days later.
Quorn Tikka Masala
(serves 4, with leftover curry paste to make again twice)
For the curry paste:
3 cloves of garlic
1 red chilli, seeds and all
1tsp each of ground cumin and coriander
1/2 tsp each of turmeric and paprika
1 tblsp garam masala
Seeds from 1 black cardamom pod
oil as necessary (about 1 tblsp)
1 tblsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tblsp tomato puree
1 red pepper, chopped chunkily
1 yellow pepper, chopped chunkily
1 bag quorn pieces
1 tin chopped tomatoes
water as necessary
1 tblsp mango chutney
1 tblsp double cream
1 tblsp Greek yoghurt

1. Blitz all of the paste ingredients together in a food processor, adding the oil gradually until you have a thick paste
2. Over a low-medium heat, fry off the onion in the oil until soft and golden - about 5 minutes.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of the curry paste, the tomato puree and the peppers, and continue to stir over the heat for another 5 minutes.
4. Add in the Quorn pieces, and stir to coat in the juices, then add in the chopped tomatoes with a little water - I just added a couple of centimetres of water to the bottom of the tomato tin to swill out the rest of the juices.
5. Simmer the curry for about 15 minutes until the Quorn and the peppers are cooked through.
6. Remove from the heat, and stir through the mango chutney, cream and yoghurt, then gently warm through (only gently or the dairy will curdle).
Serve with boiled or steamed rice, or pilau rice or naan bread - it tastes even better the following day. This curry can be successfully frozen, as long as you remember to heat it gently. The remaining curry paste will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, or can be frozen for your next CTM experience!