January 9, 2013

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is a new and exciting dish for me.  I found the chicken incredibly tender and the sauce richly spiced with just a hint of heat.  I could handle a little more heat so next time I will increase the cayenne.  While researching this dish I found that masala loosely means a mixture of spices.  Garam masala, one of the spices used heavily in traditional Indian cooking, is often a mixture of coriander, black pepper, cumin, cardamon and cinnamon.  

This particular dish is hailed as the most popular dish in the United Kingdom and apparently has been called the true national dish of Britain.  The origins of the recipe are unclear, but the taste is certainly memorable.  If you can't travel to Britain, India, Pakistan or Bangladesh where this dish is often served in restaurants, make it at home.  It's worth a little effort to multitask this to your table!

Served with homemade naan bread - recipe coming later this week!

Chicken Tikka Masala
(adapted from a recipe originally posted in a 2007 issue of Cooks Illustrated)

For the chicken:
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup Greek Yogurt (not fat free - I used 2% Fage)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

For the masala sauce:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 Serrano chili (fresh, ribs and seed removed) minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

For the chicken combine the cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt in a small bowl.  Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the spice mixture and press into the meat.  In a large bowl combine the yogurt, oil, garlic and ginger.  Spoon the yogurt mixture evenly on both sides of the chicken and spread to cover. Put the chicken breasts in a glass pan and cover with  plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the chicken breasts on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes.  Bake until the chicken is fully cooked and lightly browned.  Remove and let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes.  Carefully slice into bite size pieces.

While the chicken is in the oven, prepare the sauce.  Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook stirring frequently until light golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, chili pepper, tomato paste and the garam masala.  Cook stirring continuously until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt.  Bring mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes stirring occasionally.  Stir in the cream and return to simmer.  Remove the pan from the heat and cover to keep warm.  

Toss the chicken in the warm masala sauce but do not cook.  Stir in the cilantro and check the seasoning.  Garnish with additional cilantro if desired.  Serve with rice and Naan bread.


I love trying new recipes and was thrilled with the flavors in this dish.  I didn't even travel on the interstate this week but my kitchen went on an adventure!  Thanks so much for stopping by!



  1. Wow, this is by far the most attractive Tikka Masala I've ever seen. It is not always the prettiest dish. Sean would be thrilled if I made this again for him. I'd kind of forgotten about it. I think I'll make your version next time and see how it compares to the one we tried last year. Thanks!

    1. It's easy to see why I love ya Mary! Thanks - your Tikka is gorgeous. Love the turmeric flavored rice. I wanted to try that but was very busy trying to get this on the table. I think the crushed tomatoes would make it more saucy. Have a great Wednesday!

  2. Bring on the spice, baby!! ;) This looks delicious, Tricia... as does EVERYTHING you cook! Hope you have a wonderful week! blessings ~ tanna

    1. Amen on the spicy food! Maybe my taste buds are getting tired, but the older I get the more I like a lot of flavor. And if you could only see my ugly file - ha ha. Have a great week Tanna :)

  3. This is simply stunning! the chicken looks SO delicious - I HAVE to make this!
    Mary x

  4. Tricia, love all things Indian and you're right this is very common in the UK. They have Indian take-out with yummy dishes like this one just like we have pizza places! Your version sounds amazing! I'm so ready for some right now, do you take reservations? :)

  5. Chicken Tikka Masala is a favorite take-out dinner for us. I am excited to try making it at home. Yours looks delicious. My stomach is growling just looking at your pictures!

  6. A gorgeous chicken recipe, I love your homemade naan too.

  7. This is a favorite of ours, and we always order it in restaurants, but I've never made it. Yours looks luscious!

  8. Ooh, that looks like a nice generous portion :-) Yeh, chicken tikka masala is really popular over here in the UK, I find that quite funny that it's considered a national dish here! I don't like the takeout versions myself, but always get a hankering for a nice homecooked dish like this, mm!

    Hungry Jenny x

  9. Looks delicious Tricia. Bev and her sis are going off to a Turkish cooking class this afternoon, so I'm guessing somrthing middle eastern will be on the menu soon.

  10. Hi Tricia, this looks wonderful and so full of flavor! I'm also drooling over your pistachio and cherry biscotti below too. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment recently. I'm glad I hopped over here :) You've got some delicious recipes!

  11. I had a chicken tikka sandwich for lunch almost every day when I was in Ireland - it really is popular in the UK, and we were all kind of mystified by its prevalence - so happy to see this recipe :)

  12. Looks great, Tricia.
    I love naan, too!
    Pretty photos!

  13. YUM! Looks so pretty! I make Paneer Tikka Masala a lot (I'm a vegetarian), but it's got the same spices as this! Making the tikka masala is very easy in addition to having garam masala on hand. This dish actually originated in Britain and then traveled to India after the revolution :)

  14. I love spicy foods and curry so I am sure I will like this. I must try it
    I will be back, following you

  15. Saucy and so delicious! I must give your masala sauce a go.


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