Instant Improver

How to cook the perfect curry

That friendly guy at your local takeaway is going to hate us for this (and maybe you as well) but we've been speaking to Indian chef Gurpareet Bains (www.gurapareetbains.co.uk) and he's given us his recipe for the perfect Chicken Tikka Masala,

It's a much-maligned dish but Bains believes it's a guilty pleasure that can be made guilt-free.

"My chicken tikka masala is ‘perfect’ because it is rich and ‘creamy’ but with a great deal less fat. In fact, the oil in the coconut milk actually helps us to burn more fat and, therefore, it won’t hang onto your body as an unwanted guest, unlike its very distant cousin the dairy cream.

"Plentiful use of ginger helps with blood circulation and counteracts the sluggish feel associated after finishing off the nation’s favourite dish."

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 15 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons tandoori masala powder (available from larger supermarkets & Indian grocers)
  • 5 tablespoons tomato purée
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated (peeled) fresh root ginger
  • 2–4 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 500g skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 800ml light coconut milk
  • salt, to taste
  • chopped fresh coriander, to garnish (optional)

Method

1. Pour the olive oil into a deep saucepan, add the cloves and cardamom pods and cook over a low-medium heat until the oil is hot and the cloves and cardamom pods start to release their aroma – this should take no longer than 2–3 minutes. Add the onion and fry until it is light brown in colour, remembering to stir frequently – this should take no more than 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the garlic and fry for about 1–2 minutes or until a light brown colour. Sprinkle in the ground ginger and tandoori masala powder, mix well and cook for about 20 seconds. Add the tomato purée, sugar, fresh ginger and chillies, mix well and cook until the tomato purée is heated through – this should take no longer than 1–2 minutes.

3. Add the chicken to the pan, mix well and cook until sealed all over, stirring all the time – this should take no more than 5 minutes.

4. Pour in the coconut milk and mix well. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes, remembering to stir occasionally to avoid any sticking.

5. Season to taste with salt. Garnish with the chopped coriander and serve with your choice of sides.

For more recipes check out Gurpareet's book Indian Superfood, out now.