Chicken tikka masala


Since I grew up on tyson chicken nuggets and ramen noodles, before my adult years  I had never even come close to eating indian food. On a road trip one summer, I finally tried dishes like lamb rogan josh, butter chicken, samosas, chicken korma, and chicken tikka masala when we visited a few Indian restaurants. I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on all that time! I am definitely jealous of all the Indian kids that get to grow up with their mothers home cooking.

Once I got home from the trip, I tried to recreate my favorites. The one that stuck out was the chicken tikka masala, and my sister agreed that it was at the top of the “To-Make” list. Chicken tikka masala is a dish you can find at pretty much any any Indian restaurant. It is essentially roasted chicken in a creamy, spicy sauce.

It was prepared differently at every Indian restaurant I ordered it from so I got to try a lot of variations and see what I liked. I just used a recipe that I found online and tweaked it to make my favorite version of the dish.

It is super easy to make and just takes a little forethought for a delicious meal with tender chicken and amazingly flavorful sauce. Another bonus is that the indian spices have some pretty awesome health benefits.

For example, the ginger and turmeric are both packed with powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. As for the garam masala (a mixture of black and white peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, bay leaf, and cumin), it contributes a plethora of vitamins, as well as detoxifying properties, and is beneficial to the heart.


To marinate the chicken you will need garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, ground coriander, ground cumin, whole-milk yogurt (not Greek), kosher salt, and skinless, boneless chicken breasts (halved lengthwise).


Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl with the  yogurt, salt.



Now add the chicken to your yogurt mixture and turn to coat. Cover it with foil or plastic wrap and chill 4-6 hours. I started this in the morning before I went to work so it would be ready when it was time for me to make dinner.


For the sauce you will need  ghee (clarified butter) or another cooking oil that doesn’t smoke easily, onion, tomato paste, cardamom pods, crushed red pepper flakes, fresh tomatoes, and heavy cream.

Heat the ghee in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and chiles and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes.


Finely dice the tomatoes, add them to the pan, and bring it to a boil. As soon as you reach a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened nicely.


Place the marinated chicken in a baking dish (covered with foil if you dont want to have extra dishes later), and put it under the broiler for 10 minutes. You should see black spots on the chicken, but it won’t be cooked through.

Alternatively you could grill the chicken, again not cooking it all the way through, just par-cooking and slightly charring it.

Cut the chicken into bite sized cubes. Reserve the rest of the yogurt mixture.


Add the cream, yogurt mixture, and chicken to the tomato sauce. Stir well and simmer for 8-10 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked through). Serve over steamed basmati rice with cilantro as a garnish.

Because of the spiciness, I recommend pairing it with a nice riesling.



Chicken Tikka Masala


  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 4 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
  • 4 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 dried chiles de árbol or 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5 roma tomatoes
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish
  • Steamed basmati rice (for serving)


Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk yogurt, salt, and half of spice mixture in a medium bowl; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4-6 hours. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.

Heat ghee in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and chiles and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Finely chop the tomatoes before adding them to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.

Add cream and yogurt mixture. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet. Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer. Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots (it will not be cooked through), about 10 minutes.

Cut chicken into bite-size pieces, add to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Serve with rice and cilantro sprigs.

What is your favorite thing to order at an Indian restaurant?

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