Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is one of the most popular Indian recipes. Check out an easy version of this classic.

This tomato-based chicken curry is widely popular for a reason. The flavors in this dish are complex, yet perfectly balanced. Acidic tomatoes, warm spices, sweet cream and just a little heat create an incredible sauce. If you want to go vegetarian, I would suggest to substitute out the chicken for paneer or even tofu.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Now, one thing I will admit is this recipe requires many, many spices. It’s tough to suggest substitutions and adjustments in some cases, but if you’re looking to make something similar in a more simplified way, just comment below!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves: 3
  • For the chicken marinade:
  • 1lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1C plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1 inch ginger, finely grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sweet, paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp kashmiri chili powder or other hot Indian chili powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • For the sauce:
  • 3T clarified butter or ghee
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 serrano peppers, diced (remove seeds for less intense heat)
  • 1 ½ inch ginger, finely grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp sweet, paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ -1 ½ tsp kashmiri chili powder or other hot Indian chili powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2T tomato paste
  • 2T toasted cashews
  • 1-14.5oz can crushed tomatoes (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into large pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 green cardamom pods, lightly cracked
  • 3 whole cloves
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp fenugreek (methi) powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish
  1. For the marinade, combine the yogurt through pepper in a Ziploc bag. Add the chicken, coat in the yogurt mixture and marinate at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking.
  2. Warm a wide, heavy-bottomed sauce pot over medium-high heat. Remove excess marinade from chicken. Season with additional salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, followed by the chicken and cook about 3 minutes per side or until well-browned, but not cooked through. Remove chicken and allow to rest.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pot, followed by the onions and cumin seeds. Sautee 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add ginger, garlic and chilies. Cook 30 secs-1 min, stirring frequently.
  4. Add paprika, coriander, chili powder, turmeric and a few spoonfuls of water to prevent spices from burning and help deglaze pan. Cook 1 minute. Add tomato paste and more water to prevent burning, if needed. Cook 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove pan from the heat.
  5. In a food processor or blender, finely grind the cashew nuts. Add onion mixture and puree until smooth. Add tomatoes and blend until smooth.
  6. Add cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cardamom and cloves to pot. Toast about 1-3 minute or until fragrant. Add in tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in about 1 cup of water or enough to thin mixture to desired thickness. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook partially covered, for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add additional water to thin sauce, as needed.
  7. Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces. Add chicken and its juices to the sauce. Simmer about 10-15 minutes or until warm and just cooked through. Stir in cream, fenugreek and garam masala. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with basmati rice and/or naan. Enjoy.



Sabrina Russo

My name's Sabrina. Brina for short. I am an assistant to a food photographer and chef, a registered dietitian and full-time foodie. Hope you enjoy my recipes!

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