Feb 04 2011

Food Friday: Chicken Tikka Masala Cook-Off

Published by at 11:03 pm under Food

The contenders numbered for blind taste testing

So there’s a bit of a back story to this one. My husband loooooves chicken tikka masala. But not just any chicken tikka masala. Specifically he liked the chicken tikka masala (CTM) from a local restaurant (Godavari formerly known as Sue’s). We were supposed to go there for his birthday last year but they had closed. He was devastated.

Since then, I have been trying to find a replacement for him. When we lived in the city, I think we tried no less than 10 different Indian restaurants and none matched up. Then I moved on to making my own from canned curries to from scratch. So we decided to pit them all against each other at once. Coincidentally this same week, I found out that the above restaurant had reopened under the name Shezan with the same cooks and recipes so we decided to get some of theirs as well for the true comparison.

The contenders

We had six competitors for the evening:

All of the packaged items came from Whole Foods. The frozen CTMs contained chicken. For the two simmer sauces and the homemade CTM, I pan fried some chopped chicken thighs and then added them to the sauce to simmer.

Our rice and naan came from Shezan. As long as they were the same for the whole tasting, it didn’t really matter where they came from and it was a lot easier to just pick them up if we were already picking up the CTM.

Samosas plus mango lassi

I was making an evening of it so we got some items for the side. The mango lassis were made from scratch. I’ll have another post on those in the future. They were delicious!

The samosas are also by Sukhi from her deli fresh line and they are amazing. The chutney that comes with them is particularly wonderful. Highly recommend these.

The Rating

Close up of the numbers

In order to make this as fair as possible, all the CTMs were put into the same white bowls and given numbers. Only I knew what numbers corresponded to which CTM. You can see the cute little themed numbers I made for the event. Watch for a post on Sunday about those 🙂

Tasters taking their samples

Tasters put rice in the middle of their plate and then the CTM all around. They were then instructed to taste each one and rate them using score cards:

Rating cards

The qualities being rated on were:

  • Flavor
  • Spiciness
  • Aroma
  • Aftertaste
  • Texture
  • Overall

We found that the aromas all mixed together so in the end we didn’t bother to count that one. Aftertaste was also ambiguous as everyone interpreted it differently.

We also found that the most effective and/or fair way to do the taste test was to go once around clockwise and give scores. And then do a second taste test around counter-clockwise for calibration.

The Results

A sample plate

Here are the final scores (averaged over 4 voters):

Category Shezan Maya Kaimal Homemade Sukhi Saffron Road Neera
Flavor 4 3 3.5 3 2.25 1.5
Spiciness 3.5 3.5 2.75 2.5 2 2
Aftertaste 3.75 3.25 2.75 2.5 2.5 2
Texture 3.5 3.5 3 2.25 2.5 1
Overall 4 3.5 3.5 2.625 2.25 1.75
Total 18.75 16.75 15.5 12.875 11.5 8.25

The clear winner was Shezan’s. Although it appears Maya Kaimal’s came in second, during post rating discussion everyone agreed the homemade was better. But Maya’s is a good substitute if you don’t feel like putting in the effort. Makes for a quick dinner meal. The others fall off from there.

I had a great time theming the event and will probably try it with some other foods in the future. I’ll be posting the recipes for my CTM (I modified it a bit from the book) and mango lassi as well as a Silhouette post on my tent cards for numbers in the near future.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Food Friday: Chicken Tikka Masala Cook-Off”

  1. […] was going to post about my tent cards from my Chicken Tikka Masala Cook-Off on Friday, but since this is Valentine’s themed, I wanted to give people a chance to make it […]

  2. […] may recall that last week I posted about my Chicken Tikka Masala Cook-Off. One of the ways I made it special was by creating little themed tent cards to label each dish with […]

  3. Lisaon 16 Jun 2011 at 11:47 am

    What a nice cook-off idea! We just noticed your post that includes the Saffron Road Chicken Tikka Masala. We want to let you know that we have improved our recipes since our initial production. We also want to offer you some coupons good for free Saffron Road products so you can go back to Whole Foods Market and give our new Chicken Tikka Masala another try. Please contact me for more details at lisa@hewarcommunications.com.

    On behalf of Saffron Road,


  4. Pigleton 17 Jun 2011 at 12:32 am

    Hi, Lisa, I will send you some mail!

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