Chicken Tikka Masala – This is IT!

To me, a delicious bowl of Chicken Tikka Masala is perfect comfort food.  Being from California, where diversity abounds, there’s never a shortage of ethnic favorites.

In fact, I grew up in a city that proudly features its own Little Indian Town.  Imagine Chinatown, but with a neighborhood full of Indian eateries and shops instead.

Chicken Tikka Masala 3

Funny little fact: Chicken Tikka Masala doesn’t have any origins from India.  I was tickled to discover that the dish was actually invented in a London curry house.

Regardless of how it came about, it’s now one of the most popular dishes served up in favorite Indian restaurants everywhere.  Good thing, because some of my all time favorites are found in those restaurants.

The only bummer: though I like my new turf, really good Indian restaurants around here are few.  And the prices on those menus are double what I’m used to paying.  What to do?

Chicken Tikka Masala 4

So obvious.  Make it my mission to find the very best homemade recipe.  If you can’t buy it, make it.  Or something like that.

In my quest, I have tried numerous recipes for chicken tikka masala – some recipes were more involved than others, some were fully homemade, and some were partly homemade.  But none of them really resembled the deep, rich, distinctive flavors of restaurant style chicken tikka masala.

Until now.  Hubby and I agree that this is by far the best home cooked chicken tikka masala we’ve had.

Chicken Tika Masala 5

Finally, finally a flavorful and robust chicken tikka masala that can easily be cooked up at home.

My boys are used to different spices, and they loved this stuff.  Even the 3 year old, who doesn’t remember eating anything similar before, reached for thirds.  Cooks Illustrated, how can we applaud thee?  You are simply genius.  With a capital G.

Some heavy cream aside, this dish is actually pretty healthy.  Chicken breast, a diverse array of good spices, plain yogurt, tomatoes… it’s all the good stuff!

It goes fabulously with Basmati rice.  Add a little saffron to your rice before cooking, and you’ve got the best accompaniment to your dish.  You’ll want to pour the yummy sauce all over that rice and slurp it up, right down to the last grain.

Chicken Tikka Masala 2

This was such a success that I’m now eager to give another favorite Indian dish a shot.

Tandoori Chicken, anyone???  (Teaser below.)

P.S.  There’s a fair variety of spices to this Chicken Tikka Masala.  Try not to skip any of them, if at all possible.  Each spice lends a special flavor to the overall dish, with all of the individual spices melding together perfectly.  Results can’t be guaranteed if you change things up :)

Chicken Tikka Masala - This is IT!
This Chicken Tikka Masala is the only one we've tried that tastes just like it came from our favorite Indian restaurant. No need to go out for this anymore; make your own big batch at home and watch it disappear.
Recipe type: main dish
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts - dried well, pounded evenly flat
  • 1 cup plain (unsweetened) whole milk yogurt
  • 2 TB vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 TB ground garlic
  • 3 TB vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger (peeled)
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 2 TB garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • dashes of kosher salt to taste
  1. For the Chicken: Combine salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of dry, evenly-pounded chicken with spice mixture, pressing in so mixture sticks. Place chicken in single layer and set aside. Whisk yogurt, oil, ginger, and garlic together in large bowl and set aside.
  2. For the Sauce (can be made a day or two before, without chicken): Heat oil in large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, tomato paste, and cook about 3 minutes. Add the rest of sauce ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce to medium low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lastly, stir in cream and return to simmer a few minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
  3. While sauce is keeping warm, place oven rack 6 inches from heat broiler. Dip chicken well into yogurt mixture, coating with thick layer of yogurt. Arrange each piece on wire rack lined with aluminum foil. Broil chicken about 5-9 minutes, flip over halfway, and broil another 5-9 minutes. The exterior will be lightly browned in spots.
  4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes. Cut into bite size chunks and stir into warm sauce when ready to eat. Do not simmer chicken in the sauce. If sauce needs warming, warm it up first and then toss the chicken in when ready to serve. Lastly, season with kosher salt to taste, toss in fresh cilantro, and serve immediately over Basmati rice.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Cooks Illustrated Cookbook

Here are a few more seriously delicious Indian inspired recipes you won’t be sorry you made:

1.  Tandoori Chicken.  This is the closest you can get to that clay oven awesomeness you find at restaurants.  Yum-a-licious.

Tandoori Chicken

2.  Naan-like Grilled Flatbread at home?  Fresh off your stove?  Yes.  Yes, you can.

Grilled Flatbread Like Naan 2

3.  Asian Scallion Pancakes (Green Onion Cakes) Yeah, this one’s Chinese rather than Indian, but I figure if you like Naan, you’ll adore these.

Green Onion:Scallion Pancakes



  1. says

    This looks fabulous!! I will be giving this recipe a try! I tried making Chicken Tikka Masala about a year ago at a friends urging. I had never had it before and it’s one of his favorite dishes. I used a recipe I found on allrecipes. I should have read the reviews. It was sooooo over the top salty!! And I’m a bit of a salt fein! It called for like 7 teaspoons of salt! Against my better judgement, I used 5 not being familiar with the dish. Needless to say, it looked and smelled delicious but was a fail in the taste department. At least we’ve had a number of laughs over it! LOL!!!

  2. Amie says

    This is maaagnificent! It tastes so authentic, a real good curry! My friend came over and were both only 17, we followed your recipe and it came out perfect! We were so proud, the creamy sauce is to die for. At first I was worried about just the can of tomatoes because it seemed that there wasn’t enough for the sauce, but after simmering for 10 minutes it flowed with juices. Thank you so much :)

  3. spenser says

    Does your masala have curry and cinnamon in it? I always make sure to add extra of both of those two when making my own, and was curious.

    • says

      Hi, Spenser! Yes, it has all the ingredients of a usual “curry powder.” Curry is typically comprised of such spices and cumin, coriander, tumeric, etc. I’m sure you can go ahead and add more of whatever spices you love, and it will work for you :)

  4. Eli says

    Made this tonight for dinner. So, SO tasty! It wasn’t quite the same as most chicken tikka masalas that I’ve had before, but I think it was better and even more full-bodied. YUM!

  5. Jessica says

    This was REALLY good! Not much like what I’m used to at Indian restaurants but still a really good flavor! For some reason mine turned out much more red than yours? I even added a tad extra cream thinking that was it but nope!

    No matter, still wonderful! Chicken turned out really tender

  6. PJ says

    Pinterest is blocking your recipes :( Says they lead to Spam (which obviously they do not. Thought you might not know this. Hoping you can contact them to correct this. I want to be able to Pin your recipes for easy access (as I am sure do many others!)

    • says

      Wow, thank you so much for letting me know, PJ! I’m on it, emailed their team. I really hope they rectify it soon. I appreciate your note; I would never have known it until much later!


  1. […] I continue to be a fan of the weekly cooking method.  I see a lot of folks with their weekly menu plans and I’m definitely impressed by the ingenuity and organization.  As a single person, though, I tend to cook a big batch of something over the weekend, and then eat it for the entire week.  In the winter time, I especially like soups and I find that these soups taste better if they sit in the fridge for an extra day or two.  I’ve published two go-to recipes that I use time and time again on this site already, and I hope to chronicle more cooking adventures in the new year.  One particular recipe from last year that comes to mind as particularly memorable was the America’s Test Kitchen version of Chicken Tikka Masala (via Chew Out Loud). […]

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