Chicken Tikka Masala!

If you haven’t already entered, and would like to try some Darjeeling loose leaf tea I brought back from India…be sure to enter the giveaway HERE.  It ends Friday, April 6 at 7pm Central time!  

If you love Indian food, chances are that you adore Chicken Tikka Masala.  Maybe you even crave it?!  I can even get my younger cousins–who are scared to try anything new–to eat chicken tikka masala…it is that good!

It’s a flavorful Indian curry which is equally fattening as it is tasty.  This is not a curry I would make often, and if I did…I definitely would lighten it up.  Instead, this recipe is very, very similar to what you would receive at your favorite Indian restaurant.  I’m so confident, I would even say it may be better!

You see…the sad thing about ordering Chicken Tikka Masala at an Indian restaurant in America is that the chefs have discovered the magical condiment: ketchup!  I like ketchup, yes–on burgers, or with fries.  I do not like ketchup with my curry. Thank. You. Very. Much.

I’m not real sure why some chefs have added ketchup to their recipes, but I think it may have something to do with the color and the sweetness.  To me, it just tastes weird.

This recipe involves no ketchup; and instead uses tomato paste and my pre-made curry gravy base (recipe here).  It also uses a combination of half & half and milk.  Cream would be more authentic (if you can even call chiken tikka masala an authentic dish…but that’s another post!), but I just can’t bring myself to add it.  I don’t really feel it’s neccessary, as the milk and half & half mixture makes a perfect curry.

I hope you try my version, and if you do…let me know what you think!  Play around with the spices a little.  Does your local restaurant add more clove? Nutmeg? Cinnamon?  If you like it…add it!  That is the true beauty of a curry…it’s versatility!

Smooth, delicious Chicken Tikka Masala…just like the restaurant serves

Chicken Tikka Masala

Inspired by: The Curry Guy

(serves 6, generously)


  • 1 lb chicken breast, diced and marinated (recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (sub. veg. oil)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 7 cloves garlic – smashed and diced fine
  • 1 inch ginger – smashed and diced fine
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoon fresh fenugreek leaves (leave out if you can’t find)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • red chilli powder, to taste —taste as you add!  Sometimes, less is more!!!!!
  • juice of 1/2 small lemon
  • 3 cups curry gravy base – (recipe here)
  • 1/2 c. half & half
  • milk, as needed
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1  handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


Chicken Marinade:

  • 3/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. paprika (this shouldn’t be hot.  It’s mostly for color)
  • 1 tsp. ground chile pepper (I use Kashmiri)
  • 2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • a little red food coloring—if you want
  • 1 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • approximately 1 lb. chicken breast – cut into bite size pieces
Combine all ingredients, except chicken, together in a bowl.  Whisk until everything is mixed together.  Add the chicken. Put the mixture in the fridge for at least 2 hours—preferably overnight.
When you’re ready to cook it, you can put it on skewers and grill it–or you can use your broiler.  Heat the oven to Broil.  Put the chicken pieces on a rack over a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

if some fall through the cracks…that’s okay.

Put them in the oven and broil until they start turning a little black on the edges and look dry.  The chicken won’t actually be dry, the yogurt in the marinade will help keep that from happening.

When it’s done, it should look a little like this:

Chicken Tikka Pieces


Heat the ghee/oil in a  large pan over medium high heat.  Once it gets warm, add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, turmeric, coriander powder, and garam masala.  Stir until everything becomes fragrant and dry.

Toss in the garlic and ginger.  Cook for about a minute before adding the tomato paste, red chilli powder and fenugreek leaves (I think fenugreek and nutmeg are *secret* ingredients).  Stir everything together.  It will be dry and look something like this:

masala mix

Add the butter and 3 cups curry gravy base and whisk everything together.  Once it’s smooth, add the lemon juice and half & half.  Transfer the curry to a blender and blend until smooth (this can be skipped if you don’t mind a few little chunks). Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the cooked chicken and let the curry simmer for about 15 minutes.  It’ll thicken slightly, use milk to thin…if you’d like.  Garnish with chopped coriander.  Serve with rice or rotis.

I hope I didn’t miss anything!  It’s been a long day, but I really wanted to get this recipe posted!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Because it’s so delicious…and so not good for you!…one thing I do to keep my portion sizes reasonable is that I make my Chicken Tikka Masala extra spicy.  Spicier foods tend to fill me up faster, and I feel happy and satisfied (although my mouth is on fire!) on about a half cup of curry.

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I’m sure leftovers won’t be wasted, but if you can manage to save a couple cups of the chicken tikka masala…you could have this for dinner the next day:

Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza (recipe on its way!!!)

Linked up on: Addicts (not so) Anonymous


40 thoughts on “Chicken Tikka Masala!

    1. Shari Post author

      The chicken was marinated in yogurt. It helps to tenderize the meat. In restaurants–cream is the main ingredient in the sauce. But, if you’re making it at home, yogurt is a perfect substitute.

      Make sure you whisk the yogurt really well before adding—and be careful with the amounts. Too much yogurt=too tangy food!

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  2. Marie

    amazing. I made the curry base yesterday. Chicken is marinating. Grill is warming up. Can’t wait to put it all together!

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    1. Shari Post author

      Chris, you can make all sorts of curries with the base. In fact, I’ll be posting a delicious korma in the next day or so! What is your favorite curry? I’m sure I could adapt it!


  4. mustardseed

    I am so glad to have found your blog through food gawker. Your Indian recipes are so authentic. I saw the dabeli and I love it too! Your recipe looked delicious! Look forward to exploring more.

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    1. Shari Post author

      You most definitely can. I have frozen it many times for my husband to enjoy when I have to work the weekend!

      If you want to have the best taste when you reheat it— before you add any cream or half and half, separate out the portion you plan on freezing. Then, when you reheat the curry add the cream.

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    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day.
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  8. Juliana Metichecchia

    Hi Shari,

    I made this a few nights ago after making the curry base, and it was delicious! Just the ticket in this culturally un-diversified Louisiana town. I do have one question…what is the trick to get the beautiful color of your tikka masala? Mine tasted delicious, but was kind of a ruddy brown/red color. Sadly, I don’t have a vitamix, so mine wasn’t as velvety smooth either. Delicious though! I think curry base is something I’m going to have to have in my freezer at all times.

    Up next: Korma!

    Tanks so much for all your recipes, I’m having a great time with them 🙂


    1. Shari Post author


      Hello! I’m so glad you tried some of the recipes!

      I think the secret to the color of the curry lies in the chili powder. A lot of times I’ll use extra paprika to redden the curry. If I’m cooking for kids or people who can’t handle a lot of spice, I’ll actually tip in a little food coloring. You don’t really need it, but it makes it look more “authentic”–more like what you’d be served in the restaurants.

      Hope that helps!

  9. Sirk

    I thought you might find it amusing to know that for some reason I decided to made your Chicken Tikka Masala for 120 people when it was my turn to cook for the club. I made gallons of curry base and went through sacks of spices. Along with more gallons of dal, saag, lamb chops marinated in ground cashews, black pepper and yoghurt, and maybe 15 batches of rice, it was quite a production.

    Unless you like a SERIOUSLY messy kitchen I’m not sure this undertaking is for everyone but your curry turned out wonderfully and it was a big hit. People kept asking me where I’d bought the curry and just wouldn’t believe something so delicious can be made by Danish Navajos at home 🙂

    1. Shari Post author

      I LOVE this comment! I’m so happy it turned out and your guests loved the curry…it sounds like quite the undertaking! Even I would be intimidated cooking it for that many people! 😀

  10. Nisha

    I just made the Korma tonight (came out great!) and now I’m eyeing what to make next! Chicken tikka masala looks like the winner! Can you use dried fenugreek leaves instead of fresh? I saw the fresh ones at the store today but, it was sold in a bundle-way more than I need.

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    1. Shari Post author

      Hello Sheila!
      That would be american half and half…simply substitute 1/2 amount milk (whole/full-fat) and 1/2 amount cream. You could also use the full amount of milk or cream, too. Whatever works best for you!
      Hope this helps!

  12. Dee

    Hi Shari, last week my hubby suddenly out of the blue asked for chicken tikka masala. I was a bit shocked since I actually did not think he knew the difference between chicken tikka masala and butter chicken ( which what he likes usually ordering ). You see we are an inverted version of you and your hubby, I am Indian and he is your typical easy going Californian. Well I love chicken tikka masala and decided this weekend would be a good time to learn to finally make it……that is how I found your wonderful, heart warming and endearing blog. Last night we took upon the challenge and have a wonderfully messy and chicken tikka masala splattered kitchen (reminded me of our old days when we were dating and cooking together). I even made the base gravy , 10 onions and all , what a great idea. Well Shari, I cannot say enough good things about that recipe, it was truly to die for, you should have seen our pup trying his best to charm his way into trying some. Truly enjoying exploring your blog.

  13. Abby

    Hi i have made this chicken tikka masala a few times. It is fantastic! However i want to know what is the shelf life for it in the fridge? Just the sauce without the chicken. Thanks a lot for this wonderful recipie

    1. Shari Post author

      Hello Abby! If you’re keeping the sauce in the fridge, I would say maybe 3 days or so. If you need to keep it any longer I would recommend freezing. It freezes really nicely! 🙂


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