“ Brand: Waitrose / Type: Chicken „
After trying a couple of other ready meals in the Waitrose range I decided to give the tikka masala a try. Although this is one of my favourite indian dishes I have often found that supermarket ready meals are not to the same standard. The Waitrose tikka masala is supplied with the pilau rice in one section and the curry sauce in the other with a film lid and cardboard cover. The meal is suitable for both microwaving and cooking in the oven, although personally I always heat my ready meals in the oven. The meal was cooked in exactly the time specified on the instructions. The rice was unfortunately a little crispy on the top even though the film lid was left on. I sometimes add a little bit of water to rice in ready meals part way through cooking so maybe I should have added some water. The rice does contain some cloves, peppercorns and cardamon pods which I like, however I had to sift through my husband's rice to fish these out as he does not like them! The curry sauce was rich and creamy with plenty of flavour. My only criticism would be the sauce had slightly too much oil on the surface after cooking. Overall the ready meal was flavoursome, very convenient, cost effective and a very filling meal. I would buy more of these in future.
It's rare I buy ready meals as I find them overly salty and very bland in comparison to their home made equivalent, but in Waitrose last week I saw a chilled Chicken Tikka Masala with Pilau Rice which had been reduced from almost £4 to just £1.79 as the cardboard sleeve had become damaged. I do enjoy Waitrose food so decided to buy it for my dinner as I had purchased naan breads from Tesco the day before.
The curry is packaged in the usual sectioned microwavable container with the tasty looking yellow rice in one section and a reassuringly chunky looking curry in the other. As usual with these kinds of meal you can microwave it or pop it in the oven for around 40 minutes, I cooked mine in the oven and found it cooked perfectly in the time advised on the packaging.
Once cooked I was amazed by the quality and flavour of the meal. In all honesty it's not that different in flavour from a Tikka Masala you may buy in an Indian restaurant, with the added advantage of not being as oily to eat. Mixed in with the rice are various spices including cardamom pods which add a delicious authenticity to the meal, admittedly the rice is a little dry but thankfully it hasn't become crispy during cooking as often happens when putting a ready made rice dish in the oven.
The sauce of the curry is thick and very rich tasting. The spiciness isn't terribly strong although there is enough warmth in the dish to add a delicious spicy kick to each mouthful. There are plenty of decent sized pieces of chicken, all of which are beautifully cooked to a tender and very moreish finish. The chicken has soaked up the flavour of the Tikka Masala sauce beautifully and this sauce manages to infuse the chicken far better than any other ready made curry I've eaten.
I served mine exactly as they would in a restaurant with the curry poured over the rice and it was a delicious meal. The sauce mingles so well with the rice that any dryness is immediately counteracted and the rice is so well spiced that I can still taste it beneath the very rich flavour of the Tikka Masala sauce. The sauce is blended extremely well and although the overriding aroma before cooking is of tomato, once hot the meal is a wonderful blend of spices that both smells and tastes delicious.
The only thing I found to be lacking about this curry were fresh tomatoes as whenever I make Tikka Masala myself I always add a few large chunks of fresh tomato to the sauce, although perhaps they have not been added due to the relatively short shelf life of tomatoes and the extended cooking time of this meal. There are some slices of onion which add a nice crunch and slightly sweet flavour to the sauce, please don't let this put you off if you're not an onion lover though as they don't have a strong onion taste and if all else fails can very easily be picked out and left at the side of your plate.
The portion size of this Chicken Tikka Masala is perfect for one person and was large enough to fill me up for hours afterwards, and this was in spite of the fact that I hardly touched my naan bread due to the sauce being so deliciously filling on it's own. I suppose you could serve the meal with chips if you are cooking for someone with a particularly large appetite and I kept thinking while eating about how lovely the sauce would be with some crispy home made chips dipped in! Mind you, with over 800 calories in the meal alone perhaps you should leave the chips - and the rest of your food for the day come to think of it!
Tender pieces of grilled chicken breast in a rich tomato sauce made with cream, yogurt, coriander and garam masala. Served on a bed of pilau rice.