Creamy Chicken Tikka Masala

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We are just crazy about Indian cuisine, and this is absolutely one of our favorites.

The spices in this incredible dish are just so warming and every bite is stick-to-your-ribs fulfilling. It’s really the perfect Sunday evening meal, but leftovers are so good, that you’ll enjoy eating it all week. Be sure to serve with basmati rice or perfect steamed rice for an amazingly delicious meal.

A white bowl filled with chicken tikka masala and steamed white rice with a orange checkered napkin next to it.

How To Make Chicken Tikka Masala at Home

You may think that making a traditional Indian dish in your own kitchen is too daunting of a task.

Well, first, let’s clear one thing up first. Though it is considered Indian, culinary historians debate its true origin: Scotland or Great Britain. Learn more about its uncertain (but delicious) history here

But, now, back to making this world-famous dish in your very own kitchen. It’s not hard, it just takes a little time.

 

NOTE: If you liked this video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. Remember to click the little ‘bell’ icon so you’ll never miss a new video!

The Ingredients You Will Need

The ingredients you will need are available in most well-stocked supermarkets. Here are the items you will need:

Turmeric – Ground
Garam Masala – If you can’t find it, combine equal parts ground cumin and allspice. Or, just use curry powder.
Ginger – Fresh is best
Jalapeno – Seeds and ribs removed
Canned whole tomatoes – We always love certified San Marzano
Chicken breasts – Boneless, skinless, cut into large (1½”) cubes
Yogurt – Plain, whole milk, Greek
Butter – Unsalted
Coriander seeds – Look for them in the gourmet spice section
Cumin seeds – Look for them in the gourmet spice section
Paprika – Smoked
Onion – Finely chopped
Heavy cream – Don’t skimp on this
Cilantro – Freshly chopped, for garnish
Basmati rice – See below for how to prepare

EXPERT TIP: Cooking the marinated chicken pieces directly under your broiler will yield exceptionally tender chicken pieces but with some delicious charring on the outside. Start with the oven rack 6 inches away from the heating element and then finish it off 4 inches away. Keep an eye on them!

Bite-sized chunks of broiled chicken that has been marinated in a Indian yogurt sauce sitting on a baking rack.

EXPERT TIP: Puréing the tomatoes in your blender gets the perfect texture, but straining will get rid of any skin. Not 100% necessary, but we find it improves the texture.

Tips For Perfect Chicken Tikka Masala

Marinating the Chicken – The ginger garlic paste with the seasonings and yogurt makes an amazing marinade for the chicken. You can let the marinated chicken pieces chill in the fridge for just an hour, but several hours, or even better, overnight, will really deliver incredible flavor.

Broil the Chicken – This may seem strange, but it produces chicken that is juicy, tender, and lightly charred on the outside. If you don’t trust your broiler, then you can grill the marinated chicken, or sauté it in a lightly oiled skillet. Cut into a piece to ensure the chicken is fully cooked. If not, place in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes at 350°F (but this shouldn’t be needed).

Don’t Overcook the Chicken – Don’t add the chicken until the very end. This will keep the chicken extra succulent and juicy. All you need to do is let it re-heat in the simmering sauce for a few minutes.

EXPERT TIP: Puréing the tomatoes in your blender gets the perfect texture, but straining will get rid of any skin. Not 100% necessary, but we find it improves the texture.

Puréed tomatoes being poured from a glass bowl into a skillet with sautéd vegetables.

How to Prepare Perfect Basmati Rice

Basmati rice can be found in the rice section of most well-stocked supermarkets. Here are the easy steps for making fluffy, aromatic, delicious basmati rice at home!

  1. Place 1 cup of basmati rice in a large bowl and fill with room temp water. Swirl your hand through the water and the rice for about 1 minute, the rice water will get cloudy. Then carefully pour off the water, taking care not to lose any rice. Repeat this washing process until the water runs clear, usually about 3 or 4 times. (this step is very important!)
  2. Fill up the bowl 1 more time and let the rice soak for 30 minutes.
  3. Drain the rice.
  4. Fill a medium saucepan with 1 3/4 cups water, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add the rice, stir, and wait until the water comes back to a full boil. When it does, turn the heat down as low as it can go, and then cover.
  6. Cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

The sauce in this dish is begging to be soaked up by perfectly prepared basmati rice. If you can find some, pick up some naan bread. It’s an Indian flat bread that is perfect for sopping up all that amazing sauce in your bowl. Naan is now found in many supermarkets, typically in the bakery area.

An overhead view of a large silver saucepan filled with creamy chicken tikka masala with a wooden spoon resting in the sauce.

You may be wondering, what is the difference between Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken? While they do have a somewhat similar flavor profile and texture, tikka masala has a little more spice to it. We find the chicken, because of the yogurt marinade, is more tender with tikka masala. But again, they are similar but different. But both are delicious.

Check out our Instant Pot Butter Chicken. It is amazingly delicious.

But in the meantime, make this incredible dish, cook up some rice, grab some flatbread, and get ready for a feast like none other. That you made in your very own kitchen!

A close-up view of a white bowl filled with chicken tikka masala that has been combined with white rice with a fork.

Ready to make one of the most beloved chicken dishes in the world? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

A close-up view of a white bowl with a helping of chicken tikka masala and steamed white rice in it.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is literally exploding with amazing flavor. The chicken is cooked under the broiler and is super tender and doesn't go into the deeply flavorful sauce until the very end, ensuring it stays tender and extra juicy. Amazing!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Indian / English
Keyword: easy chicken tikka massal recipe, how to make tikka masala
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Marinating in the fridge: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 463kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 4 tbsp garam masala divided
  • 6 cloves garlic crushed, or finely minced
  • 1 jalapeño cored, seeded, and ribs removed
  • ¼ cup ginger fresh, chopped
  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes undrained
  • 2 lbs chicken breasts boneless, skinless, cut into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ cup yogurt whole milk, plain, preferably Greek
  • tsp Kosher salt divided
  • 6 tbsp butter unsalted
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp cilantro fresh, chopped, for garnish

Instructions

  • In a blender, add the turmeric, 2 tbsp garam masala, garlic, jalapeño, ginger, and ½ cup water. Purée until smooth. The consistency should be between a sauce and a paste. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
  • Add the whole tomatoes (with the juice) to the same blender and purée until smooth. Strain through a sieve into a bowl and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add the cut chicken. Add 2 tbsp of the puréed ginger sauce, yogurt, and 1 tsp of salt. Mix until the chicken is fully coated. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or up to 12 hours.
  • Place your oven rack 6 inches from the broiler. Transfer the chicken pieces to a baking rack on a foil-lined baking rack. Broil for 5 to 7 minutes, keeping an eye on it. It should start to char a little, but not burn. Remove the pan and move the rack to the top position under the broiler. Return the pan just under the broiler and broil for another minute, until the chicken is nicely charred, but not burnt. Remove from the chicken and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan/skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds and cumin seeds and cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes.
  • Add the paprika and onions and cook for another 6 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the remaining sauce/paste and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Transfer the tomatoes to the pan and cook for another couple of minutes. Pour in the cream and simmer until slightly thickened, about 6 to 8 more minutes.
  • Stir in the chicken and the remaining 2 tbsp garam masala, chicken, and 1½ tsp salt. Simmer for another couple of minutes.
  • Serve at once with cooked basmati and topped with freshly chopped cilantro.

Notes

See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel
Garam masala can be found in the gourmet spice section of most well-stocked supermarkets, at Asian/Indian markets, or found online.  Curry powder is a decent substitute.  Turmeric can also be found in the spice sections of most supermarkets. If not, seek it out online. 
See the blog post for how to prepare perfect basmati rice. 
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 5 to 6 days. This freezes nicely for up to 2 months. Reheat on the stove over medium heat until bubbly. 

Nutrition

Calories: 463kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 173mg | Sodium: 1254mg | Potassium: 757mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1604IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 2mg
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