One of the best things to order at our local Indian restaurant is Chicken Tikka Masala, mainly because they prepare it well and regularly enough that in my opinion it’s difficult to screw up. It’s one of those dishes I’d tell someone to order if they might be wrinkling their nose over the menu.
“Get the Chicken Tikka Masala,” I’d recommend. “It’s in a curry sauce that’s mild but flavorful, you’ll have some rice and naan, and it’ll be good.” And they’d be fine, and probably believe that’s the only dish they ever could order forevermore, although I’d argue they could and should expand their imagination and palate to enjoy other Indian dishes.
Like many foods that have been around for centuries, chicken tikka masala has unknown origins. As with some Indian foods, it’s not always possible to pinpoint the specific starting point with the different regions. Chicken tikka is a dish, the tikka referring to “bits” or “pieces” of skewered cooked meat. Masala refers to the garam masala spice mix used in creating the dish. It’s a combo of some well-known spices including cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, along with some others. Chicken tikka masala typically is served in a creamy curry, which adds another layer or flavor.
Indian food is not hair-on-fire spicy unless you request or create it that way. Similar to asking for more heat at your favorite chicken wing joint, you can do the same with Indian food. Merely ask your server about the flavors and spice level, and then order (or prepare) accordingly. I’ve had some Indian dishes with chicken and goat that were mildly spicy and others that gave me a bit of a sweat. I love both, too.
One of our favorite cooks, Scott Rea, gives us a great look at a Venison Tikka Masala dish in the video above. It was suggested to Rea on Twitter by Simon Majumdar, a food and travel writer, and judge on Iron Chef and Cutthroat Kitchen. Don’t let the preparation intimidate you. Once you get this downpat, it could easily become one of your favorite venison recipes to make and eat.
If you don’t have any venison, my suggestion is to use beef (or lamb, or goat!) and practice the recipe. Just as with any other dish it takes time, experience and failure to get it right. If you nail it from the start, well, that’s awesome. If it’s not as you want or like, adjust and try again.
For anyone feeling less adventurous, here’s a good ol’ Venison Garlic Bacon Burger from Nevada Foodies to help tide you over.
Venison Garlic Bacon Burger
Makes 6 Hamburgers
- 1lb ground venison burger (bacon and garlic recipe here)
- 2 tablespoons barbeque sauce (use your favorite)
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- A pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 12 slices sharp cheddar cheese
- 6 slices thick dry cured or peppered bacon
- 6 Hamburger buns
- In a bowl, mix together bacon and garlic venison burger with salt, pepper, barbeque sauce, a whole egg and breadcrumbs. Shape into 6 hamburger patties. Let the meat rest for 15 minutes.
- Cook bacon in a cast iron skillet until fully cooked. Remove and set aside on a paper towel. Remove 95% of the bacon fat from skillet.
- Set your oven to broil.
- Heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter with bacon fat. Place burgers in skillet and cook for approximately 6-7 minutes or until browned. Turn and continue to cook on the other side.
- Remove from heat. Cut bacon in half and top each hamburger with 2 thick slices and 2 slices of cheddar cheese. Place cast iron skillet under the broiler until the cheese has melted. Remove from oven.
Place the venison hamburger on your favorite hamburger bun, add a slice of crisp white onion and pour your favorite barbeque sauce all over the top. Squeeze together and enjoy! We served these hamburgers with oven roasted sweet potato fries.