Chicken Tikka Masala Shopping Tips
Buy whole chickens and ask the butcher to quarter them for you. You will save an average of $5 per pound, or more.
Chicken Tikka Masala Cooking Tips
When browning meat, resist the urge to move the meat – you must allow a flavorful crust to form over high heat. Once it has formed, the meat should slide freely with the shake of a pan.
The Best Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
Place the chicken pieces on a cutting board with the flesh-side up. Score deeply at 1-inch intervals with a sharp knife. Place in a large rimmed baking dish.
Combine cumin, paprika, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside 3 tablespoons of spice mixture. Combine remaining 6 tablespoons spice mixture, 8 cloves garlic garlic, 2 tablespoons ginger, yogurt, 1/2 cup lemon juice, and 1/4 cup salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Pour marinade all over chicken pieces, using hands to coat every surface. cover loosely and refrigerate. Refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least 4 hours and up to 8, turning occasionally.
Meanwhile, heat butter or ghee in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until melted and foaming subsides. Add onions, remaining 4 tablespoons grated garlic, and remaining 2 tablespoons ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until dark and beginning to char in spots, about 10 minutes. Add reserved spice mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and half of cilantro, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan with a spoon. Simmer for 15 minutes, then puree using a hand blender or by transferring to a tabletop blender in batches.
Stir in cream and remaining quarter cup lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, then set aside until chicken is cooked.
TO COOK ON THE GRILL: Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over half of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Wipe excess marinade off chicken and place over hot side of grill, flesh-side-down. Grill without moving until well charred, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip chicken and cook until second side is charred, another 4 to 5 minutes. (Chicken will not be completely cooked through—this is ok). Transfer to cutting board and allow to rest 10 minutes.
TO COOK UNDER THE BROILER: Line a broiler pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and preheat the broiler to high with the rack set 6 inches below broiler element. Wipe excess marinade off chicken and place on foil-lined pan, flesh side up. Broil until charred and blackened on surface, about 8 minutes (chicken will not be completely cooked through—this is ok). Transfer to cutting board and allow to rest 10 minutes.
Remove chicken from bone using a sharp knife and cut into rough bite-sized chunks. Transfer chicken chunks to pot of sauce. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro, then serve immediately with rice or Grilled Naan
1. Mix all the marination ingredients. Hung yogurt, chili powder, salt, turmeric, ginger garlic paste, lemon juice and garam masala.
2. Wash chicken cubes under running water, drain completely, pat dry with few disposable tissues. and marinate and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs. Overnight refrigeration yields the best tender bites of chicken.
3. For grilling chicken tikka in a oven refer the recipe below in the recipe card. To make chicken tikka on tawa or pan, heat a non-stick pan with 1 tbsp oil, remove the excess marination from the chicken pieces and fry them on a high flame till they are almost cooked. Do not burn the pieces or the masala as they tend to leave a bitter taste. So continuously keep stirring the pieces, no problem if they brown. Doing this on a low flame or medium flame can entirely spoil your dish by releasing lot of moisture and can become like curry. So take care.
4. While the chicken is still frying, marinate the chopped cubes of onions and capsicums with the left over marinade. Once the tikka is almost cooked, remove the excess marination from the veggies and add them to the same pan and fry for 2 mins on a high flame. Set this tawa aside. You will be left with a moist meat and crunchy veggies with no left over wet mix on them.
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast - cut into 1-inch strips
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 green chile peppers, minced
- 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
- ½ cup tomato paste
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ bunch cilantro for garnish
Combine yogurt, 2 teaspoons garam masala, paprika, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon coriander in a large bowl. Add chicken strips and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet.
Place chicken strips on the prepared baking sheet, leaving space between each piece, and bake in the preheated oven until browned and no longer pink inside, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir cumin seeds until lightly toasted and aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add onion cook and stir until onion begins to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger, and green chiles and continue to cook until onion is browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Cook and stir tomatoes, tomato paste, and water into onion mixture until tomatoes begin to break down and incorporate into the onion mixture, about 10 minutes.
Cook and stir 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, and turmeric into the tomato mixture. Mix in the cooked chicken, add cream, and stir to coat. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and garnish with cilantro.
Instant Pot Option
You can make this Chicken Tikka Masala in the Instant pot as well. Briefly cook chicken in the instant pot or in the broiler to get color on it. (You don’t want the chicken to be fully cooked) Add it to the Instant Pot along with the sauce ingredients except for the heavy cream. Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and serve! If you want the sauce to be a bit thicker add 1-2 teaspoons of cornstarch to the heavy cream before adding it to the Instant Pot. Simmer on saute mode uncovered for 5 minutes to thicken.
What is the Origin of Chicken Tikka Masala?
The origin of Chicken Tikka Masala is somewhat vague but is believed to be a blend of Indian and British influence. While the dish “Chicken tikka” is of Indian origin, “chicken tikka masala” is thought to have been created by immigrants from former East Pakistan (now Bangledesh) in the 1960’s during a time when chefs of Indian restaurants throughout the UK were creating a series of “inauthentic” Indian dishes to cater to the Western palate.
The Scottish are particular adamant that its origins lie in the city of Glasgow where its creation is attributed to the Pakistani chef of the Shish Mahal restaurant. A few years later in 1971 the chef’s son recounted the story to the BBC:
On a typical dark, wet Glasgow night, a bus driver coming off shift came in and ordered a chicken curry. He sent it back to the waiter saying it’s dry. At the time, Dad had an ulcer and was enjoying a plate of tomato soup. So he said why not put some tomato soup into the curry with some spices. They sent it back to the table and the bus driver absolutely loved it. He and his friends came back again and again and we put it on the menu.
Attempts have been made at giving Glasgow EU protected geographical status for chicken tikka masala but have been unsuccessful thus far.
Whatever its origin, Chicken Tikka Masala has not only become Great Britain’s most popular Indian dish, it’s one of most popular foods period and has been elevated to the status of one of Great Britain’s official national dishes, an emblem of Britain’s heritage of absorbing multi-cultural influences.
It was during the years I lived in England that I was first introduced to the dish and it has remained one of my favorite Indian dishes ever since. After sampling many versions of this dish throughout Great Britain and elsewhere, I have developed what I believe is the one of the very best chicken tikka masala’s you’ll ever taste!
- 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup blanched whole almonds
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- One 35-ounce can peeled tomatoes, finely chopped, juices reserved
- Pinch of sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper.
Using a sharp knife, make a few shallow slashes in each piece of chicken. Add the chicken to the marinade, turn to coat and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade scrape off as much of the marinade as possible. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and spread the pieces on a baking sheet. Broil the chicken, turning once or twice, until just cooked through and browned in spots, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut it into 2-inch pieces.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the almonds and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a plate and let cool completely. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garam masala, chile powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cover partially and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the cream and ground almonds and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes longer. Stir in the chicken simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and serve.
Begin by chopping the chicken breasts into chunks. Feel free to substitute boneless skinless chicken thighs if you like, but I prefer white meat for this recipe since the sauce is quite rich.
In a bowl large enough to hold the chicken, combine the yogurt, salt and spices.
Then add the chicken and mix until it is evenly coated. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.
When you’re ready to cook the chicken, preheat the broiler and set an oven rack in the top position. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack on top spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray.
Place the chicken on the prepared rack, spooning any marinade left in the bowl over the chicken. Broil for 7 to 8 minutes, until browned on top. (The chicken does not need to be flipped over.)
While the chicken cooks, start the sauce.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pan. Add the onions and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Do not brown reduce the heat if necessary.
Add the spices and cook 2 minutes more.
Add the tomatoes, heavy cream, salt, sugar, pepper and 1/2 cup water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 15 minutes.
Add the broiled chicken to the sauce and simmer until the chicken is warmed through and fully cooked, a few minutes.
Sprinkle the cilantro over the chicken and serve with buttered Indian basmati rice and/or naan.
- 1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee), or more as needed
- 1 onion, chopped
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 4 cloves garlic, finely grated
- 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger, or more to taste
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 (13 ounce) can coconut milk
- ½ cup chicken broth, or as needed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
Place chicken in a bowl and drizzle vegetable oil over chicken toss to coat.
Whisk kosher salt, garam masala, ground cumin, ground coriander, smoked paprika, ground turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cardamom together in a small bowl. Season chicken with spice mixture and turn to coat evenly.
Melt clarified butter in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Cook chicken thighs in hot butter until browned on all sides, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. When cool enough to handle, cut chicken into bite-size pieces.
Reduce heat under the skillet to medium-high. Stir onion into skillet saute until onion softens and turns translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir. Saute until paste caramelizes, about 5 minutes. Stir garlic and ginger into tomato-onion mixture and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Pour the crushed tomatoes into the skillet and bring to a boil while scraping the browned bits of food off of the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. Pour in coconut milk and chicken broth bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors blend and sauce is slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.
Stir chicken, any accumulated juices from the chicken, cilantro, and red pepper flakes into tomato mixture bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until chicken is cooked through and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
Authentic Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
There are two theories about the origin of Chicken Tikka Masala – one that it was created in Punjab, India by Bangladeshi migrant chefs in the 1960s and one that it was created in Glasgow, Scotland by Ali Ahmed Aslam, the owner and chef at the Shish Mahal restaurant in the west end of Glasgow.
Due to the detail of the story of origin in Glasgow, I am inclined to believe that Mr. Aslam was the creator. Numerous food historians agree and have written on the subject extensively.
No matter where it was created, Chicken Tikka Masala is one of the most popular dishes in Britain. It is one of the dishes that I associate with my time living in Scotland because it was so readily available and, to be honest, cheap enough for a young, underpaid military member on a budget.
Fresh naan and loads of rice always accompanied the heaping serving of roasted chicken smothered in rich, creamy and slightly spicy sauce. One order from the Curry Shop downstairs was enough to feed me for two days.
Should you use Chicken Breast or Thigh?
Most authentic Chicken Tikka Masala recipes call for chicken thighs but breasts can be used here too. Chicken breasts do need to marinate a bit longer than thighs so leave them in the refrigerator overnight for the best flavor.
Essential ingredients in Authentic Chicken Tikka Masala
If you look at 25 different recipes that claim to be authentic Chicken Tikka Masala recipes, you find 25 completely different recipes. But there are a few ingredients that are non-negotiable.
To make authentic Chicken Tikka Masala, you must have:
- Chicken (obviously!)
- Lots of Spices – especially Garam Masala and some type of chili powder
What to serve with Chicken Tikka Masala
Rice is an absolute MUST with authentic Chicken Tikka Masala! White rice is traditional but I often serve it with jeera rice, which is jasmine rice that is lightly spiced and oh so fluffy!
Naan is also non-negotiable when you serve Chicken Tikka Masala! I love to eat naan plain but it is the perfect vehicle to scoop the chicken chunks and spicy sauce up to your mouth!
My recipe for Homemade Naan is quick and easy and so delicious! Naan is a yeasted flatbread that doesn’t have to rise as long as most yeasted breads. It is easy to get on the table along with the Chicken Tikka Masala!
What is Kashmiri Chili?
Kashmiri Chili is a chili from India that is usually used dried and ground. It has just a little more heat than paprika or regular chili powder but it is not as hot as cayenne.
The flavor and the color are so vibrant and I am using it in everything lately!
How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala
- 1. Put the curry or tandoori paste into a bowl with the yogurt, stir well, then add the chicken pieces and stir again. Put the bowl into the fridge for 1-2 hours.
- 2. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- 3. Put the chicken pieces into an ovenproof dish and bake for 10 minutes.
- 4. Meanwhile, blend together the cream, tomatoes, ginger and garlic in a bowl and set it aside.
- 5. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the bay leaves (if using) and the onion and fry until the onion begins to turn golden-brown.
- 6. Add the chilies, turmeric, paprika, salt, cumin, coriander and garam masala and stir for 1 minute.
- 7. Put in the chicken pieces and fry for 5 minutes.
- 8. Then add the tomato and cream mixture, cover and cook over a low heat for a further 5 minutes.
- 9. The curry should look red and creamy, and its texture should be thick and fairly smooth, depending on how small you chopped the onions.
- 10. Add 125 ml/5 fl oz water and cook for another minute.
- 11. Take it off the heat, pour into a serving dish and garnish with the coriander leaves.
- 12. Serve with pita breads, naans, or rice.
Read about the best tikka recipes that we have to prepare a stellar snack platter.
We have also listed down the best Indian chicken recipes for that perfect dinner party menu.