Chicken Tikka Masala

March 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Chicken | 44 Comments
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…without the tikka or the tandoori. 

I’ve recently signed up for emails from America’s Test Kitchen and so far I’m impressed and engaged with the content. The latest included a clip from a television segment featuring an easy Chicken Tikka Masala recipe. I felt the excitement and adventure of a challenge since I’ve never had Tikka Masala. Throw in the addition of Kirsten over at My Kitchen In The Rockies posting some wonderful Indian dishes over the past few weeks and I couldn’t resist the project.

ATK tells us that Tikka Masala is the most popular dish ordered in Indian Restaurants and assures us that after testing many recipes, this Test Kitchen version will yield tender chunks of chicken in a flavorful aroma of seasonings without skewering and can be prepared in our American kitchens without the need of a tandoori oven or vessel.

Let’s get started.

Using a mixture of cumin, ground coriander, cayenne and salt…

Sprinkle over both sides of  boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. ATK assures us that the addition of salt and plastic wrap will vibrantly flavor the chicken in this short time.

Mix together plain yogurt, chopped garlic, grated ginger and some vegetable oil. Stir together and let rest so that the flavors can marry while the chicken is flavoring in the refrigerator.

At the end of 30 minutes, remove chicken from refrigerator and slather generously with the yogurt mixture. 

Heating some oil in a sauce pan stove top, add finely chopped garlic, a seeded and deveined Serrano pepper, tomato paste, garam masala, grated ginger and chopped onion. Stirring, cook over medium heat until chile and onion are tender and flavors have become fragrant. 

Add some crushed tomatoes and continue to simmer on low. Whisk in some cream and keep warm until you add the chicken.

Broil the slathered chicken breasts about six minutes per side, until thermometer reads 160 degrees. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for five minutes and then chop into bite sized pieces. Stir the chicken into the tomato sauce and remove from heat immediately so that chicken will not cook any further. Serve alongside basmati rice.

The verdict: 

  • Just as promised, I was surprised how flavorful the chicken tasted from its short visit with the spices in the refrigerator sealed under that plastic wrap.
  • I was impressed with how the yogurt and olive oil mixture beautifully browned the chicken just as promised. 
  • It was very good, but never having Tikka Masala before and not being able to compare…we thought the sauce lacked that burst of flavor we were expecting. 
  • It was somewhat of a lengthy process so I would not recommend this for a weeknight fix.

Below you’ll find the complete recipe and process compliments of America’s Test Kitchen.

Chicken Tikka Masala…It’s What’s For Dinner.

One Year Ago: Creamed Olive Soup and Salad

America’s Test Kitchen Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves 4 to 6

This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the chile. If you prefer, substitute 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for the garam masala. The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken. Serve with basmati rice.

Chicken Tikka

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (see note above)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons 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 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 fresh Serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note above)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (see note above)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


1. FOR THE 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. FOR THE SAUCE: 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.



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  1. Sounds wonderful — even though I really hate yogurt.

    • Have you ever had Greek Style Yogurt???? Ohmygoodness good.

  2. This really looks so great! I’d like to try to prepare this classic dish. Thanks for posting this.

    • You’re so very welcome Ann. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Your chicken looks so good, so flavorful! And a nice change from the chicken dishes we usually have!

    • It is a nice change Carol…not sure I’d make it again though.

  4. If you said let’s go to an Indian restaurant, I’d go, but if I were picking it would be something else, so I think I’ll just wait for the makes your eyes roll back in your head dish. 🙂

    • LOL…Love it Larry…couldn’t agree more.

  5. I have a cooking philosophy that I’m thinking of naming something like global improv – I look for the key flavor ingredients in various ethnic dishes then set about creating a recipe that’s “close enough” to the real thing, but less work and time. Since Tikka Masala is my favorite Indian dish (along with everyone else I now see!), I’m might have to work on that – will let you know what I come up with!

    • Michele, thanks so much for stopping by and the comment. Love your global improv idea. Please work on Tikka Masala and share the recipe with me! Please. 🙂

  6. I would love to try this! I have made another version a long time ago, and all I remember is that it took a VERY long time – have not made it again! This flavor profile sounds delicious and ur pics look scrumptious!

    • Well this one, that was advertised as being simple did indeed take about an hour and a half. I’m not sure I’d make this again…but it was tasty. Thank you so much for the compliment on my photos. I’m so nervous with my new camera.

  7. Thank you for the shout out, Lea Ann.
    You got me hungry now. Fish is on the menu tonight, but I would rather eat your Indian dish. May I can change my plans and add the fish to something Indian inspired? Or I’ll make the Masala sauce and add the fish, should work. Yes, that’s what I will do. Off to the kitchen!

    • Well you’re so welcome Kirstin. As always look forward to your meal and photos.

  8. Tikka masala is one of my faovurite curry dish. Your first picture is beautiful!

    • Thank you so much Ellie. I’m so nervous with my new camera, I so much appreciate your comment.

  9. First of all, this is one of Dana’s favorite dishes and he only gets it when we travel since there are no Indian restaurants here. Secondly, I keep forgetting to look for a recipe and then you just put one right in front of me. And your photographs are great! My two favorites are the first one and the one of the browned chicken. I’m going to surprise Dana with this one. 🙂

    • Please let me know what he thinks. Like I said, I’ve never had it, so don’t know if it’s “right” or not. You may have to adjust the spices. Thanks for the compliment on the photos. That first shot was taken during a colorful sunset. And since I don’t have a lighting set up and haven’t learned the camera all that well yet, I’m at the mercy of nature. Which this time turned out beautifully. My little point and shoot would have turned out a bad photo with this lighting. Besides the photo, didn’t that chicken brown beautifully? Thanks Vickie

  10. I made something similar recently…because when I saw the individual ingredients I realized I had all everything I needed. I sort of expected I would have to shop for exotic spices. Nope, Just mix some I already had. Makes me want to make it again seeing this…I love it.

    Have you had basmati rice? If you make more Indian dishes you must try it. Or wait, I got mine at Costco…I could give you a pound or five!

    • I was surprised I had all those spices on hand too Barb. I think all I had to buy was the chicken and crushed tomatoes. I have used basmati and jasmine rice for years. Love the flavor of both. I don’t buy mine at Costco…I’ve seen those huge bags and don’t know where on earth I’d store it. 🙂

  11. Thanks for your honest assessment Lea Ann. I don’t have much experience with Indian food, but I love, love, love that palm leaf plate.

    • Thanks Sam. I have a small collection of various leaf plates. Whenever I see one I like, I grab it. I don’t have any experience with Indian food and have an Indian client who reads my blog. I’m going to call her tody and see what she thinks about the recipe.

  12. It sounds like you were not completely happy with the results. Would you make this again? It looks wonderful. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

    • I’m not sure I’d make it again. Like I said, it was good, but I’ve got other Chicken recipes I’d rather tackle if reserving that much time for a meal. I want to have it at a restaurant and then make my decision to try it again or not…and adjust flavors.

  13. I used to always make Chicken Korma for our Indian nights, but we are now stuck on Chicken Tikka Masala. I have seen the episode of ATK when they make this recipe and was wondering how good it was. Thanks so much for your review. I love love love Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe above all others (forgive me ATK). It is a lot of trouble but SO worth it. If you ever feel like tacklng this dish again, give it a try. You can find it on my blog or you can Google it, but don’t give up on this classic. Beautiful photos!

    • Thank you Karen. When I read this, I ran for my only Jaffrey cookbook and the recipe isn’t there. I don’t want to give up and look forward to preparing hers…which I’m sure is the “real deal”. And thanks for the photo compliment…I was pretty proud of a couple of them.

  14. This sounds wonderful and I totally love that first picture!!! Also, I wanted to stop by and thank you for your sweet comments about Scrappycat.

    • Thanks Pam, I was pretty proud of that photo. Again, so sorry about Scrappy…even with all the memories, you’re going to miss her dearly.

  15. Love Chicken Tikka! Hope you loved the end result. It looks delicious and love the photos!

  16. I love chicken tikka masala – my version is mostly on the stove top – and the heavy cream is worth it! 😀

    • I’m convinced I’ll try it again. I’d love to go to a good Indian Restaurant before I do, and see what it’s supposed to taste like. 🙂

  17. I love how nice and brown the chicken is. I might have to slather my chicken in yogurt next time I make it. Love your leaf-shaped bowl, this recipe sounds delish!

    • I’m thinkin the same thing Karen. 🙂

  18. wow! looks great. plus the name sounds cool, which is important.

    • As always, enjoy your comments Dan!

  19. Great site with adventurous recipes! Can’t wait to try one! Nice to meet you on Sat. And thanks for visiting The Bakery Box! YOUR site is soooo cute!

    • Thanks Lindsey. I love our meetups. Thanks for stopping by.

  20. […] Chicken Tikka Masala « Mangos, Chili and Z […]

  21. WOW, what a wonderful post! My Kitchen in the Rockies (Kristin) has a truly awesome blog! I may have to make this now too, LOVE Indian food!

    • Kirsten’s blog is great! As always thanks for stopping by.

  22. Wow that looks tasty! I am a big CTM fan, and this recipe sure looks like a winner (nice camera work, BTW).

    • I want to have it at a good restaurant to make sure I know what it’s supposed to taste like. Then make it to match. Thanks for stopping by.

  23. I have a recipe for this from Raichlen that I’ve been wanting to try on the Big Green Egg since it is similar to a tandori. Yours looks really good and inspired me to hurry up and get to it!

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