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Chicken Tikka Masala

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

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Sabrina Russo
Servings 3


  • For the chicken marinade:
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 C 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:
  • 3 T 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
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T toasted cashews
  • 1-14.5 oz 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


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In a food processor or blender, finely grind the cashew nuts. Add onion mixture and puree until smooth. Add tomatoes and blend until smooth.
  • 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.
  • 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.



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