Not exactly a classic Indian Chicken Curry - the world famous classic chicken tikka masala (well, the sauce anyway) was invented in Glasgow of all places, in the 1970s by a Bangladeshi chef.
Supposedly it was created to appease a customer who complained his chicken was too dry!
Now it's loved all around the world! My kids order it EVERY time we go out for Indian, and Chris and I always sneak a bite to go with our spicier curries.
Steps to make Chicken Tikka Masala:
We start by marinating the chicken in a mixture of yogurt and spices. It needs to marinade for at least a couple of hours, to really tenderize the chicken, so it can be grilled or griddled later without drying out.
Next we start on the sauce by softening onions in a pan with a little oil and butter. Add garlic, ginger, garam masala, ground coriander, paprika, cumin, cinnamon and tomato puree and stir it all together.
At this point I like to add in a chopped red pepper. This is totally optional, and definitely not an authentic addition, but I like to add in a little veg where I can get away with it.
Then add in tinned tomatoes and water and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes while you cook the chicken.
You can cook the chicken on a griddle or barbecue on skewers, or if you want to keep it simple, like I do, then spread the chicken out on a tray, brush with oil and grill until lightly charred. If the pieces aren't too big, you shouldn't need to turn them to cook them through.
Now stir cream, ground almonds and a little brown sugar in the the sauce, and add in that cooked chicken. Give it all a stir and heat the cream through for a couple of minutes, then serve.
Pro-Tip - How to make a hotter version of Chicken Tikka Masala
Add in 1-2 tsp of hot chilli powder with the spice ingredients when you're making the sauce. Alternatively, you can add in 1-2 fresh red chillies (finely chopped) when you add in the red bell peppers. Or you could do both if you like it really spicy!
I tend to stick with the mild version, as the kids prefer it, but then Chris and I will sprinkle on a some finely chopped fresh red chilli, or a pinch of chilli flakes at the end.
Also, a head's up for Thanksgiving and Christmas leftovers - try my Leftover Turkey Tikka Masala!
The Chicken Tikka Masala Video:
The Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe:
Chicken Tikka Masala
- 3 chicken breasts - chopped into bite-size chunks
- 1/2 cup (120) Greek yogurt - or thick natural yogurt (full fat)
- 2 cloves garlic - peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp mild chilli powder - or hot if you like it spicy
- 1 pinch of cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil - (for brushing onto the chicken before grilling)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 onion - finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic - peeled and minced
- 2 tsp minced ginger
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp tomato puree paste
- 1 red bell pepper - de-seeded and sliced
- 14 oz (400g) tin chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup (120ml) water
- 3/4 cup (180ml) double/heavy cream
- 3 tbsp ground almonds
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- Boiled rice
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
- Chopped fresh chillies - (optional)
- Place the chicken breast pieces into a bowl or freezer bag with the yogurt, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, coriander, turmeric, cumin, paprika, chilli powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Mix together so that everything is combined, then cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 2-3 hours.
- About 35-40 minutes before you’re ready to eat, start on the sauce.
- Add the oil and butter to a large frying pan (skillet) and heat on a medium-high heat until the butter has melted. Add the onion, and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened.
- Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, ground coriander, paprika, cumin, cinnamon and tomato puree. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes to allow the spices to release their fragrance.
- Add in the chopped red bell pepper, tinned tomatoes and water. Stir and bring to the boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes until thickened (now is a good time to put your rice onto boil).
- Remove the marinated chicken from the fridge and spread out onto a baking sheet.
- Brush the chicken with the oil, then grill for 8-10 minutes until a little charred on the outside. If your pieces aren't too big, you shouldn't need to turn them, but if they're not cooking through underneath, then give them a turn with some tongs. Make sure the chicken is cooked by slicing into a larger piece and ensuring it's no longer pink in the middle.
- When the sauce is nearly ready, stir in the cream, ground almonds and sugar, followed by the cooked chicken tikka. Cook for a further 5 minutes to heat through.
- Serve with boiled rice and top with fresh coriander. Add a few chillies too if you like.
Cooking the chicken - grill or griddle?I like to cook my chicken on a baking sheet under the grill.
If you prefer to griddle or barbecue the chicken, you can thread the chicken pieces onto four long metal skewers (you can use wooden skewers if you prefer, but soak them in water for at least an hour beforehand to prevent them from burning). Cook for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally until no longer pink in the middle.
Chicken breasts or chicken thighs?I use chicken breasts for this recipe, as I find them a lot less fiddly to chop up and prepare.
Chicken thighs tend to retain their juiciness a little more than chicken breast, but we're marinading the chicken breast, which will help to tenderize it and retain it's juiciness when it's being grilled.
Can I make Chicken Tikka Masala ahead?The chicken is at it's smokiest and juiciest when eaten straight away, but yes, you can cook this dish ahead and reheat later if you like.
You've got a couple of options:
- Make marinate the chicken ahead (it will be fine in the marinade for a day), and fully make the sauce ahead. Then cool, cover and refrigerate the sauce up to a day ahead.
When you're ready to eat, grill the chicken, and heat up the sauce in a pan until piping hot and mix together.
- Or you can make the whole dish ahead and stir the chicken into the sauce, then cool, cover and refrigerate for up to two days. Reheat, in a pan, stirring regularly until piping hot throughout.
Can I freeze Chicken Tikka Masala?Yes, make the whole dish ahead and stir the chicken into the sauce, then cool, cover and freeze. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat, in a pan, stirring regularly until piping hot throughout.
Nutritional Information is per serving - not including rice.
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