Tikka Masala - C. Phaisalakani

One Of These Masalas Is Not Like The Others . . .

Which of these masalas has chef Glenys Morgan planning a Bollywood night: Patak’s, The Curry Queen or Asian Home Gourmet?

Tikka Masala - C. PhaisalakaniTaste buds in an exotic mood but you’re in your slippers? If you’re craving Indian, there could be a little taste of tikka masala hidden in the pantry. Make some rice, use a premade tikka masala sauce with chicken, and trade your slippers for bangles.

What is tikka masala? Coles Notes version: tikka means the meat is in pieces; masala is a complex blend of spices. Tikka masala from a jar will never compare to the layers of spices and slow-cooked magic of the authentic dishes, but then the bangles don’t have be gold either. Unlike bottled barbecue sauces, masalas are produced without additives or preservatives, which is a plus.

Patak’s sauce is made in the U.K., and its rich colour is exotic and at least looks ruggedly homemade. Mixed with yogurt, the flavour is tangy, with a fair amount of citrus.

The Curry Queen, the Canadian offering, has a lot going for her tikka masala sauce, including organic ingredients and added dairy. It’s mild, bright and has a fresh look because it’s a very tomatoey style of sauce infused with spice.

The tikka masala spice paste from Asian Home Gourmet comes in one of those slim foil packets invented by NASA. Convenient and fresh, not too hot with hints of black pepper, it features pure ingredients and no acidity or oil. Asian Home Gourmet came out on top in this trial. We liked the clean look of our yogurt-infused masala, and the taste had the “warm spice” flavour of a good masala.

Check the instructions on the packages of all three tikka masala sauces for how to make chicken tikka masala. Serve it with a coconut rice pilau and watch a DVD of Bollywood/Hollywood.

Pilau Of Coconut Rice And Spices

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup raisins
2 bay leaves
Cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
4 tbsp butter (optional)
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups water

Combine the rice with the coconut, salt, sugar, raisin, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and cardamom.
Heat the butter, if using, in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice mixture and sauté over medium heat for five minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk and water and increase the heat to high.
When the rice has come to boiling, stir and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Serves 4.

Photo: Casey Phaisalakani

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