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Chicken Tikka Masala. A curry classic the easy way.

Chicken Tikka Masala. Make this flavour packed, classic curry dish easily and economically, even as a low fat version. Simple spices and ingredients yield big taste in this family favourite.

Chicken Tikka Masala image served over streamed rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala image served over streamed rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala is often noted the first curry dish that many people ever tried. I was into my early twenties before I ever made a curry dish myself and that was something very simple like my Chicken Chickpea curry recipe.

Since then I’ve come to love the combination of spices and wonderful fragrant aromas. I love the flavours and sometimes spicy hot elements of a great curry.

Finding good Indian food in these parts can be a challenge. Even much of what’s considered to be good by many, I’ve found to be timid in flavour.

Perhaps this is because local restaurateurs feel they have to temper the flavours and spicy heat of some dishes to accommodate some tastes.

Whatever the reason, I still find I prefer my own homemade curry dishes most of the time. But there’s nothing to compare at home with the warm, fluffy, tandoor oven baked naan bread you get in good restaurants.

I’ve never been in an Indian restaurant where I didn’t order extra naan right when ordering. If you’re looking to make your own at home, I have had good success with this recipe but the high heat of a real tandoor cannot be replicated for the flavour it yields.

You could also try my super simple, 2 ingredient Yogurt Flatbreads. These are ready in mere minutes!

Yogurt Flatbreads close up featured square photo

Yogurt Flatbreads

Getting the flavour right in Chicken Tikka Masala.

Over the years, I’ve come to add more and more spice to my curry dishes as my taste has become accustomed to it. Curries are pretty forgiving dishes though, so adding less or more of any single spice to suit your individual taste is perfectly fine in my opinion.

Also, if I didn’t have one or two spices on hand that went into a curry recipe, I’d probably try it anyway. Chances are there’s still going to be plenty of flavour in there.

I do always keep the central spices like garam masala (a common spice blend) and a couple of curry powders like red and yellow on hand. If I run out of another, I may just omit it on that occasion.

Especially like on the winter storm day we had last week when I made this curry. I was not going out in that looking for one missing spice!

Chicken Tikka Masala marinade.

Chicken Tikka Masala marinade.

The yogurt marinade tenderized the meat beautifully and kept this chicken very moist and juicy. Even after broiling, then simmering in the sauce.

At other times of the year, I would have cooked the marinated chicken on the backyard grill on high heat. A very hot, lightly oiled cast iron grill pan works well too.

I use that method when making a single batch but as I was making a double batch of this recipe the broiler worked great. 

I cooked about 4 lbs of chicken in only 20 minutes or so. It came out with a good speckling of black char marks which give great smoky flavour.

Chicken Tikka Masala after broiling.

Chicken Tikka Masala after broiling.

The best chicken for Chicken Tikka Masala.

My preference is to use boneless skinless chicken thighs in most of my chicken curry dishes. I think they are more flavourful than chicken breasts.

Also, they hold up to the simmering time better than white meat without drying out. Plus, they are more economical too which is a bonus when you want to make a big batch to serve family and friends.

I often double this recipe and freeze half for another day. This time the leftovers were destined for a curry loving friend who’s recovering from hip replacement surgery.

Raw chicken thigh meat. Stock Photo

Chicken thighs make for juicier and more flavourful meat in your curry.

Many chicken tikka masala recipes out there call for heavy cream but we tend to like this lighter version around here. Therefore, cream is easily left out of the sauce.

You an add plain yogurt in place of the cream as noted in the recipe. If I want to splash out on calories though, I usually go for a similar but more indulgent meal of Butter Chicken instead.

We most often serve this curry on plain steamed rice. If you want to try a completely different serving suggestion, try serving the chicken and sauce over spaghetti or linguine. Those around your dinner table won’t be expecting that twist!this Chicken Tikka Masala recipe?

Looking for even more healthy recipes?

We’ve added a collection of 25 Best Heathy Eating Recipes here.

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Best Healthy Eating Recipes. 25 delicious meals!

Be sure to browse the photo index of delicious dishes in our Healthy Eating Category. You can also find over 150 Chicken Recipes on this website and check out more of our Indian Inspired Dishes too.

Originally published May 2019.

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Originally published March 2016. Updated May 2019 to include a printable recipe card and provide nutritional information.

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Chicken Tikka Masala image served over streamed rice.
Yield: 8 servings

Chicken Tikka Masala - a curry classic the easy way.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Chicken Tikka Masala - make this flavour packed, classic curry dish easily and economically, even as a low fat version. Simple spices and ingredients yield big taste in this family favourite.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs Boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts

For the marinade

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup tomato juice, droned from the diced tomatoes used in the sauce later
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp roughly grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp tandoori masala, or 1 tbsp chili powder
  • tsp pinch chili flakes, or 1/2 crushed chili paste
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garam masala

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil, or other vegetable oil
  • 2 medium sized onions, diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream, optional or add 3/4 cup yogurt

Instructions

  1. Trim the chicken pieces of any excess visible fat. If using chicken breasts curt them into 2 or three pieces. Thighs, i usually leave whole. The chicken will be cut into smaller pieces later anyway.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients in the marinade together and add the chicken. You can do this in a large ziploc bag or in a covered glass bowl. Make sure all of the chicken pieces are well coated and leave to marinate in the fridge for anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight.
  3. Do not scrape off the marinade before cooking it on a gas grill, a hot cast iron grill pan, or on a rack about 6 inches from your broiler.
  4. The chicken should get good char marks on the grill or grill pan or a speckle of char under the broiler. My chicken thighs took about 20 minutes under the broiler, turning once. Set the cooked chicken aside to rest for a few minutes and cut into bite sized pieces before adding it to the Tikka Masala sauce.

For the Sauce

  1. Mix together the smoked paprika, yellow curry powder, garam masala, coriander seed, cumin, turmeric, cloves and cardamom. Set aside to add later.
  2. In a small dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions soften and just begin to turn golden.
  3. Add the spices you mixed earlier and let them heat up for a minute or so as you toss them with the cooked onions.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken stock and honey.
  5. Simmer slowly for 20 minutes before adding the chicken pieces and simmering for an additional 10 minutes. If using cream or yogurt in the sauce, add it with the chicken as well.
  6. Serve over plain steamed rice or with warm naan.

Recommended Products

Rock Recipes a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Our product recommendations are almost exclusively for those we currently use or have used in the past.

Nutrition Information

Yield

8

Amount Per Serving Calories 287Saturated Fat 5gCholesterol 95mgSodium 488mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 3gSugar 8gProtein 28g

The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.

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