Updated: Jan 17
Learn how to make this delicious creamy spiced curry dish that has taken the UK by storm!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Inactive time: 2 to 12 hours
Cooking time: about 30 minutes
Serves 6 to 8 people
A must in anyone's culinary repertoire! This easy-to-make curry dish is just so full of amazing flavors and packs a punch!
I love curry. I love the spices. I love the aroma. I love how simple it is but how amazing the results are. It is one of my favorite types of food: satisfying and purely delicious.
I researched and tested multiple recipes before creating my own. Obviously it is always expected that I will tweak things to make them more delectable, so I added more layers of flavors to satisfy the most demanding palates at our home: the picky eaters! And they loved it!
What is Chicken Tikka Masala?
Chicken tikka masala is a dish of marinated chicken (chicken tikka, roasted and then cooked in a spiced curry. Its origin is disputed. The curry is usually creamy and orange-coloured. It is among the United Kingdom's most popular dishes.
What is the flavor profile?
Layered. Full of exotic spices. Complex. Spicy. Vibrant. Tangy. Creamy.
What ingredients will I need to make Chicken Tikka Masala?
Chicken breast or thighs, plain yogurt, spices (curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, cardamon, coriander), a large red onion, cream, ginger paste, garlic paste, lemons, cayenne pepper, sugar, cilantro, salt and pepper.
What else will I need to make this dish?
A non-reactive bowl, a large pot, measuring cups and spoons, a baking tray, parchment paper, a cutting board, an oven, a knife, and a wooden spoon.
Can I make substitutions?
Yes. You can substitute the cream with coconut cream and the plain yogurt with plain Greek yogurt. You can also use fresh ginger and garlic instead of the store-bought paste.
Where is Chicken Tikka Masala from?
Well...that is a really tough question to answer. The origin of the dish is not certain. Some trace the origins of the dish to the South Asian community in Britain and others claim that the dish was created in the Indian subcontinent.
The Multicultural Handbook of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics credits its creation to Bangladeshi migrant chefs in the 1960s, after migrating from what was then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). At the time, these migrant chefs developed and served a number of new inauthentic "Indian" dishes, including chicken tikka masala. Historians of ethnic food Peter and Colleen Grove discuss various origin-claims of chicken tikka masala, concluding that the dish "was most certainly invented in Britain, probably by a Bangladeshi chef". They suggest that "the shape of things to come may have been a recipe for Shahi Chicken Masala in Mrs Balbir Singh’s Indian Cookery published in 1961".
Rahul Verma, a food critic who writes for The Hindu, said he first tasted the dish in 1971 and that its origins were in Punjab, India. He said "It's basically a Punjabi dish not more than 40–50 years old and must be an accidental discovery which has had periodical improvisations".
Another explanation is that it originated in a restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland. This version recounts how a British Pakistani chef, Ali Ahmed Aslam, proprietor of the Shish Mahal restaurant in the west end of Glasgow, invented chicken tikka masala by improvising a sauce made from yogurt, cream, and spices.
What is Garam Masala?
A typical Indian version of garam masala contains (with Hindi names in parenthesis):
Bay leaves (tej patta)
Black and white peppercorns (kali/safed mirch)
Cinnamon or cassia bark (darchini)
Mace (outer covering of nutmeg) (javitri)
Black and green cardamom pods (elaichi)
Red chili powder (laal mirch)
Let's make it!
2 to 4 pounds of chicken breast or deboned chicken thighs
2 teaspoons of Garam Masala
1 tablespoon of curry powder
2 teaspoons of ground cardamon
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
1 tablespoon of garlic paste
1 tablespoon of ginger paste
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
28 oz of canned crushed tomatoes (undrained)
1 large red onion (chopped finely)
1 1/2 tablespoons of garlic paste
1 1/2 tablespoons of ginger paste
2 tablespoons of curry powder
1 1/2 tablespoons of garam masala
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 lemons (juice of)
1 teaspoon of sugar
fresh cilantro (coriander)
Debone and cut the chicken breasts into small 1 1/2" cubes. If using chicken thighs, just remove the skin and bones.
In a non-reactive bowl, add all the marinade ingredients together. Incorporate well and then add the chicken. Make sure the chicken is saturated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate anywhere from 2 hours to 12. The longer the chicken marinates, the better the flavor.
Once the chicken has marinated, you are ready to move onto making the sauce.
Set the oven to broil.
Remove the chicken from the marinade, shake off any excess marinade, and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Place tray in the oven, about 10 to 12 inches away from the top, and cook chicken for 12 minutes. Turn chicken half way (after 6 minutes). Once cooked, remove from the oven and set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the onions and cook until they are soft. Add the crushed tomatoes, garlic paste, ginger paste, curry powder, garam masala, sugar, and cayenne pepper. Stir well.
Add the chicken and the juice of 2 lemons to the sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.
Slowly add the cream. Stir.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust spices (garam masala, curry powder, and cayenne pepper) to your personal liking. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve with rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Printable PDF Recipe File below: