Chunks of chicken are marinated, broiled and served in a creamy, Indian-spiced tomato sauce absolutely bursting with flavor...this Chicken Tikka Masala will have you licking your plate!
This thing is for real, and you need it in your life. Pete and I have *literally* made and eaten Chicken Tikka Masala 3 times in the past 10 days (plus leftovers!!!), and we can't get enough.
Chicken Tikka Masala has kind of a funny back story. It isn't 100% clear where the dish really came from, but it's generally agreed upon that it didn't actually originate in India. The general gist of the story is that at an Indian restaurant in the UK, a customer ordered Chicken Tikka (basically chicken skewers) and complained that it was too dry, so the chef made up a sauce and added it to the dish - and thus Chicken Tikka Masala was born! And funny enough, it is so popular across the pond that in 2001, it was named "a true British national dish!"
I have eaten lots of Chicken Tikka Masala. I tried quite a few different recipes at home, but I felt like a lot of them were really missing the punch of flavor that it has whenever I get it from a restaurant - it seemed like I was tasting a lot of tomato in the sauce and not a lot of those quintessential warm Indian spices. But after tinkering with many, many test batches, I can promise you that this one has just as much flavor as any dish I've had from an Indian restaurant.
I combined my favorite elements from the test batches into this recipe, and here are the things that I think really make it stand out:
- THE FLAVOR! Please don't have a heart attack when you look at the list of ingredients - I know it looks like a lot but that's because a lot of the spices in the chicken marinade are also in the sauce, so they are listed twice. It's really not so bad! And those spices are SO necessary because you want your Chicken Tikka Masala to taste like RESTAURANT Chicken Tikka Masala, not...chicken in a very tomatoey and sort of vaguely Indian tasting sauce.
- Chicken thighs instead of chicken breast - Chicken thighs are definitely best for this recipe because they don't dry out as easily as chicken breast does. Don't even be worried if they temp over 165°F while you're waiting for the broiler to give them that char, because they will still be moist and delicious.
- Broiling the chicken pieces - The benefit of this is twofold: 1) The broiler gives the chicken nice little charred bits on top, which helps to mimic the traditional chargrilled effect of cooking it in a tandoor oven (which, you know, most people don't have). 2) You can cook the chicken WHILE you're simmering the sauce, which saves time over cooking the chicken in the dutch oven and THEN starting the sauce. Ain't nobody got time for that.
- Pureeing the sauce - This is KEY, and oddly something not every recipe recommends. I LOVE the silkiness of the masala sauce, leaving it chunky just doesn't have the same effect at all. So blend that sauce up!
You don't need to go to a restaurant to have delicious Chicken Tikka Masala, go ahead and make this baby at home!
Craving more Indian-inspired recipes? Try these Curry Roasted Cauliflower Steaks or this Slow-Cooker Curried Chicken with Ginger and Yogurt.
Yummy noises await you!
Chunks of chicken are marinated, broiled and served in a creamy, Indian-spiced tomato sauce absolutely bursting with flavor...you'll be licking your plate!
- 1.5 to 1.7 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed off and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
- 7 oz. full fat greek yogurt
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
- 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
- 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
- 1 medium fresh jalapeño, minced (take seeds & ribs out for less heat)
- 1.5 Tbsp garam masala
- 1 Tbsp ground coriander
- 2.5 tsp ground cumin
- 4 tsp paprika
- 1/8 tsp cayenne
- 1.5 cups tomato puree
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 oz heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup uncooked basmati rice (or 3 cups cooked)
In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, and cayenne and stir to combine. Add chicken chunks and stir well so that all chicken pieces are thoroughly coated in the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.
In a small pot, cook basmati rice according to package instructions.
In a large Dutch oven, heat oil & butter over medium heat until the butter is melted and foamy. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until light golden, about 8 minutes.
Add garlic, ginger, jalapeño, garam masala, coriander, cumin, paprika and cayenne and cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes.
Add tomato puree, water, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper position (about 4-5 inches from heating element) and preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray, and spread chicken pieces out evenly on the sheet in a single layer. Broil until charred on top and cooked through (so that a meat thermometer reaches at least 165°F), about 6-8 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time. Set aside when finished.
Remove sauce from the heat. Use an immersion blender to thoroughly blend the sauce until very smooth.
(If you used a nonstick pot/pan instead of a dutch oven, be careful not to scratch your pan during blending. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can ladle/pour the sauce into a regular blender, just be sure to remove the circular insert from the top of the blender and cover it with a towel before blending, otherwise you'll have a masala-decorated kitchen on your hands.)
Add cream and stir until thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust salt if desired.
Using the foil as a hammock, add the chicken pieces and any juices that have collected into the sauce. Stir to combine, and serve over cooked basmati rice with a sprinkle of cilantro on top.
I like to use only half of the ribs and seeds from the jalapeño, that plus the cayenne in the sauce gives this dish a noticeable spicy kick. If you want it to be less spicy, remove all the seeds and ribs from the jalapeño and/or eliminate the cayenne from the sauce.
Let the chicken pieces cook under the broiler until you see noticeable charred bits - they add great flavor!
I love to cook and chicken thighs!! This is a great idea. They are so moist and delicious!! I had no idea this dish did not originate in India. It’s like vichyssoise. It’s not from France but US! Love chicken tiki masala. Thanks.
I didn’t know that about vichyssoise, that’s interesting!
I am making this tonight!!! I'm bringing some to my sweet friend, Raj.
I can't wait to hear what she thinks! I am making it with chicken for us and tofu for her, she is a vegetarian. I will post her reaction....I know she will love it! Thanks, Rachel....I can already hear the yummy noises!!!
I think it would be great with tofu! Let me know how it turns out! 🙂