Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chicken Tikka Masala

Mixing your own spices

It wasn't until recently that I started deviating from a basic curry recipe, including pre-mixed curry powder. I still don't grind all of my spices from scratch, but I'm now more comfortable creating spice mixtures. I'm also more comfortable with more comlex recipes that go beyond "throw everything into the pot" and hoping for the best.

The first time I made chicken tikka masala, I had to get my head around coating chicken in yogurt before placing it under a broiler, but wow. The result was spectacular!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients: chicken
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
Ingredients: masala
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tsp)
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 fresh serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced 
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  1. Chicken: combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.
  2. Masala: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.
  3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.
  4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.
Serve with basmati rice.
(based on a recipe from America's Test Kitchen)
Recipes by the Haggis and the Herring: tasty world recipes tested in our kitchen


  1. I love this dish, but shame on me..I use Tikka Masala from a jar...grant it a good name brand of Indian sauces. But I will try this one at some point. I actually have all the ingredients except the yogurt & chile pepper on hand. Thanks for the recipe. N

  2. I love chicken tikka masala and this one looks soooo good. The only kind I have tried at home is a lowfat version but I bet this one is amazing!

  3. Yeah, I guess the oil, full-fat yogurt and heavy cream doesn't exactly make it a "light" dish. But it's tasty!

  4. FYI - I just finished watching the episode and she stressed that making this recipe with a 28 oz can of tomato was too much and that a smaller can (15oz) should be used.

  5. Good point. That's one of my variations from the original :-)

    I'm fond of the extra tomato, but you can reduce the amount if you like.

  6. This is exactly what I was looking for. I love the chicken masala Though I don't know if the ingredients for the chicken masala is available here locally.

  7. You can't beat the flavor of a homemade spice mixture. It really does add another level of flavor. To me, this is the ultimate comfort dish.

  8. @CC: It wasn't until I took some cooking classes that I became more confident about mixing my own spices. I used to rely on pre-mixed spices and bottled pastes. They just don't compare.

  9. I need to make this! Tikka Masala is my go-to takeout order...

  10. Chicken Tikka Masala is the very first Indian Dish I ever tried and I absolutely love it!


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