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Chicken Tikka Masala

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Chicken Tikka Masala is a classic dish on most menus at Indian restaurants in the US. We are here to show you how easy it is to make this flavorful dish at home.

And when we say easy, we aren’t kidding. This recipe only takes one pan to make meaning it’s a quick cleanup!

What is Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is a chicken dish that is served with a deliciously creamy spiced tomato sauce. The beauty of Chicken Tikka Masala is that you only need a single pan. Traditionally, you would use a Tandoor, but you can use any large pan with high sides. In fact, a wok would be great for this recipe.

This savory recipe has many layers of flavor thanks to this cooking method! First you prepare the chicken by marinating and cooking it, then cut it into chunks and set it aside.

Next you caramelize onions and garlic along with spices in the same pan the chicken cooked in. This picks up all the yummy flavors of the chicken.

After that, you add in the cream and tomatoes to develop the sauce. And last, you add the chicken back in. It is a simple cooking technique that builds layer upon layer of flavor.

Where is Chicken Tikka Masala from?

While Chicken Tikka Masala is a staple of Indian cuisine in America, food historians argue that its roots are established elsewhere! Many actually believe that Chicken Tikka Masala was first invented in Scotland. Crazy, right?!

The first solid record of a Chicken Tikka Masala recipe dates to the 1970s in Glasgow. A Bangladeshi chef took chicken tikka, which is a marinated chicken dish, and developed a tomato cream sauce – the masala – to cook it in!

Others say that there was no clear creation of Chicken Tikka Masala. Instead, they suggest that this dish is a simple evolution of a traditional Indian dish called Butter Chicken. Side-by-side, Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken are quite similar, so this theory is believable!

How to make the Chicken Tikka marinade

The distinctive feature of Chicken Tikka Masala is the yogurt based marinade that you cook the chicken in. The yogurt helps to soak up all the flavors of the marinate and fuse them to the chicken. We love each of these ingredients on their own, but love them even more together!

  • Ground coriander is an earthy spice that actually comes from a seed. Interestingly enough, coriander is the seed from a cilantro plant. If you placed fresh coriander seeds in soil, you would likely grow a plant!
  • Cumin is another earthy spice that warms every dish! Similar to coriander, it is originally a seed pod. But more likely than not, you will find cumin as a powder.
  • Garam Masala is a well known spice blend commonly used in Indian cuisines. It includes a balance of cinnamon sticks, mace, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and cardamom pods. These ingredients are toasted then ground to make this delicious blend!
  • Yogurt is the wet ingredient in this marinade. Instead of using oil, Chicken Tikka calls for yogurt! It essentially works to make the spices stick to the chicken. Not only does it enhance the flavor, but it also helps with developing the texture of the chicken!
  • Salt is a major flavor enhancer. It naturally draws out the flavors of the spices and ingredients being used. It’s a basic necessity of every marinade we make!

How to make Chicken Tikka Masala

  1. Place chicken in a large bowl. Sprinkle in salt, cumin, coriander and garam masala. Then add the yogurt and mix it all together until the chicken is coated.
  2. Heat up a large pan over medium heat. Sear the chicken on both sides in the pan. Remove the chicken, set aside and cut it into chunks.
  3. Using the same pan, add oil. Next add in the chopped onions and cook them until they turn translucent.
  4. Add in the garlic and ginger, followed by the salt, and garam masala. Mix it all together while cooking over the heat. Cook for a couple minutes while stirring – this will prevent the ingredients from sticking to the pan.
  5. Next, add in the chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and heavy cream. Stir this together, and make sure to gently scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up all those flavors!
  6. Once the sauce comes together, add chicken back in.
  7. Serve hot with rice and/or naan!

How to eat Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is a yummy curry. While you can theoretically treat it like a soup and eat it on its own, it is way better when you have something to soak up the sauce.

We love to serve Chicken Tikka Masala with rice and naan. Jasmine or basmati rice are both simple white grains that soak up the flavors of this curry! You can serve the rice plain or with some herbs.

Naan is a delicious buttery bread that is common in India. Typically, naan is used as a replacement of utensils, as you are meant to use it to scoop up the curry and rice!

Other flavorful chicken recipes you are going to love

  • Our Easy Chicken Kofta is the best! If you haven’t had It before, chicken kofta is a tasty chicken meatball common in Mediterranean and middle eastern cuisines! You can pair it with rice or salad, or eat them on their own.
  • If you’re into big flavors and easy recipes then our Middle Eastern Chicken and Potatoes is for you. It uses some of the same spices in our chicken tikka recipe so if you like this recipe, you’ve got to try it!
  • Another take on flavor-packed chicken is our Chicken Shawarma! Similar to chicken tikka masala, chicken shawarma also has a delicious spice rub.
  • Whipped Feta Baked Chicken is one of our most indulgent chicken dishes. For how yummy it is, our baked chicken is surprisingly simple to make!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Food Dolls
This chicken tikka is so comforting, creamy, and the perfect weeknight dinner!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course dinner
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories

Ingredients
  

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3-4 medium on the vine tomatoes (chopped (approx. 2 cups chopped))
  • 8 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • Place chicken in a large bowl. Sprinkle in salt, cumin, coriander and garam masala. Then add the yogurt and mix it all together until the chicken is coated.
  • Heat up a large pan over medium heat. Sear the chicken on both sides in the pan. Remove the chicken, set aside and cut it into chunks.
  • Using the same pan, add oil. Next add in the chopped onions and cook them until they turn translucent.
  • Add in the garlic and ginger, followed by the salt, and garam masala. Mix it all together while cooking over the heat. Cook for a couple minutes while stirring - this will prevent the ingredients from sticking to the pan.
  • Next, add in the chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and heavy cream. Stir this together, and make sure to gently scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up all those flavors!
  • Once the sauce comes together, add chicken back in.
  • Serve hot with rice and/or naan!

Video

Notes

Plain yogurt works in place of Greek yogurt.
Feel free to substitute on-the-vine tomatoes with roma tomatoes.
Keyword chicken tikka, chicken tikka masala recipe, indian food
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6 Comments

  1. I’m making this as we speak! I hope I did it correctly! It says to sear chicken and then return to the sauce, but it doesn’t say how long to cook it for after that! I’m so excited about this dish! ❤️