Tikka masala is to Indian food what baked ziti is to Italian food. A complete bastardization of regional cuisine? Yes. About as inauthentic as it gets? Certainly. Undoubtedly comforting and heartwarming no matter where you hail from? Absolutely. Tikka masala, a dish usually done with chicken, should warm you not only from the undercurrent of (very very very mild) heat running through it, but also from the heady mix of spices brought together within the embrace of cream and yogurt. It becomes the kind of dish that the more you eat of it, the more you want to eat it again for your next meal. And your next, and then again your next meal after that one, and then, maybe, if you like to play things fast and loose with food safety, the day after that one as well. Curries like tikka only get better with a bit of a stint in the fridge, the time allowing for all of the flavours to meld together even more cohesively.
Two tikka masala recipes step up today to compete for your affections. BA’s Best is a classic chicken tikka, deliciously fattened up with a heavy glug of cream and a thick coating of turmeric-spiced yogurt. My own offering for the category of tikka masala is a vegetarian version, though not one that downplays the dairy as it features thick cubes of lightly fried halloumi wallowing in a blanket of cashew and coconut tikka masala sauce. Serving both with piles of fluffy carbohydrates would be the surefire way to guarantee a well-deserved and inevitable nap post-feast.