Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

White bowl of chicken tikka masala on a pale green cloth.

This delicious Indian curry combines garam masala spices with tomatoes, onions, garlic ginger and tomatoes for a homemade sauce served with chicken marinated in greek yogurt then broiled. Served with white rice and naan, you can replicate the best Indian food in the world without a Tandoori oven.

About Chicken Tikka

 When I was in college at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, my roommate and I fell in love with Indian food. We would save our money and walk the almost two miles down to the Indian Oven in the Haymarket and indulge. 

Once I started spending so much more time in Costa Rica, I really craved chicken tikka and had to find a way to replicate it. Over the years I have made this dish countless times, tinkering with it each time to make it more delicious. I would say now- it’s my signature dish. I love the spicy, creamy tomato sauce and the huge chunks of marinated chicken- phenomenal. 

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The Wikipedia on tikka masala has tons of info on the actual dish, but the condensed version is this- the curry sauce always includes chicken marinated in yogurt and baked. There is debate about the origin of the dish too- is it from India, or Great Britain? It’s one of England’s most popular dishes, and I have to say I ate a really good version in London.

Anyway- here’s my version, perfected after over 10 years of tinkering. The last time we had people over and I made this my friend’s husband said- this is better than the local Indian restaurant!  I absolutely love this recipe and I hope you do too. Enjoy!

Related post: Big List Of Delicious Recipes Served With White Rice

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Ingredients:

For the tikka masala sauce:

  • 2 Tb butter
  • 1 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 TB garlic (fresh or packaged)
  • 1 TB salt
  • 3 TB garam masala spice
  • 2 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tb sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Large skillet
  • Blender (does not need to be high powered)
  • Cooked white rice

For the Tandoori chicken:

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • kosher salt
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • Baking sheet 
  • Metal Cooling rack
  • Tin foil


Instructions:

For the chicken tikka

Pat the chicken breasts dry and sprinkle with kosher salt, cumin and coriander. Generously coat both sides with yogurt. Place on a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet- I cover the baking sheet with foil to make clean up easier. These go in the oven, cooking the chicken on high broil, for about 10 minutes per side. I like them to be a little bit blackened. Chop into large pieces and set aside.

For the tikka masala sauce

Place butter (or oil) in a large skillet pan and melt over medium-high heat. Roughly chop the onion and garlic. Add the onion and garlic to the melted butter. I sauté this for 5 or so minutes until everything is soft and translucent. I add about a tablespoon of salt here too.

Add about 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger and the 3 tablespoons of garam masala. I stir this a bit to blend the flavors. Next, you will add the tomato and a good tablespoon of sugar. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. I add the red pepper flakes about halfway through the process.

Add the sauce to the blender and puree until very smooth. Return the tomato puree sauce to the sauté pan and add the heavy cream, stirring until well mixed. Check for salt.

Roughly cut the chicken breasts and add to the mixture. Simmer for about 20 minutes, season with salt if needed.

Substitutions

You can substitute coconut milk for the cream. You can substitute olive oil (or any oil really) for the butter. 

I have used vanilla yogurt and just plain non-Greek yogurt for the chicken marinade and it turned out great.

Regular salt (as opposed to kosher salt) works just fine too. 

I have seen recipes that call for jalapeno or serrano peppers in place of the red pepper flakes. Just roughly chop then and add before you add the tomatoes. A lot of people use chili powder too but I don’t like it.

You can use frozen ginger instead of fresh. In a pinch, I have used powdered ginger but it isn’t quite as good. 

You can also use fresh tomatoes. I use about 1.5 lbs fresh tomatoes chopped roughly and sauteed until very tender. Add an extra teaspoon and a half of salt in this case, and sometimes 1/4 cup water. 

You can substitute chicken thighs for the chicken breast. I just don’t really like chicken thighs that much so I never do it. 

A lot of people use chili powder

Variations

The big variation on this recipe is to not blend the ingredients and have a chunky masala sauce. I do not like it at all, but to each his own.

A lot of people serve this is saffron rice or Basmati rice cooked with turmeric.

Serving Suggestions

I serve this with Costa Rican white rice. I top it with some freshly chopped cilantro. I also love to serve it with Naan bread and I’ll let you in on a secret- Trader Joe’s has a great Naan in the frozen section.

Sometimes I am feeling extra adventurous and I make this Mulligatawny Soup recipe as an appetizer- chickpeas and lemon juice, topped with coriander leaves.

For some odd reason, I always make my Salted Caramel Bars for dessert with this recipe. I mean, why not, right?

For a lighter take, I eat the chicken tikka masala on a bed of lettuce and forgo the rice and bread.

FAQ

Is this an easy recipe? – I get this question all the time. It took a while to master but now I can make it with my eyes closed. Practice makes perfect. 

What do I do if I can’t get garam masala? – Right? So, a few tricks. Target has a really good blend of garam masala. I can usually find it at Walmart and King Soopers too. I definitely cannot get garam masala in Costa Rica, in which case I use this recipe for homemade garam masala.

Can I make chicken tikka ahead? – Yes! This recipe is a great make-ahead meal, as the flavors blend nicely in the refrigerator or freezer. I love to make a big batch on Sundays and eat it for lunch each day- especially substituting the white rice for spinach. Yum!

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Printable Recipe

Yield: 8 servings

Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala

White bowl of chicken tikka masala on a pale green cloth.

This delicious Indian curry combines garam masala spices with tomatoes, onions, garlic ginger and tomatoes for a homemade sauce served with chicken marinated in greek yogurt then broiled. Served with white rice and naan, you can replicate the best Indian food in the world without a Tandoori oven.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • Ingredients:
  • For the tikka masala sauce:
  • 2 Tb butter
  • 1 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 TB garlic (fresh or packaged)
  • 1 TB salt
  • 3 TB garam masala spice
  • 2 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tb sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Large skillet
  • Blender (does not need to be high powered)
  • White rice
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • For the Tandoori chicken:
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • kosher salt
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • Baking sheet 
  • Metal Cooling rack
  • Tin foil

Instructions

For the chicken tikka

  1. Pat the chicken breasts dry and sprinkle with kosher salt, cumin and coriander. Generously coat both sides with yogurt. Place on a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet- I cover the baking sheet with foil to make clean up easier. These go in the oven, cooking the chicken on high broil, for about 10 minutes per side. I like them to be a little bit blackened. Chop into large pieces and set aside.

For the tikka masala sauce

  1. Place butter (or oil) in a large skillet pan and melt over medium-high heat. Roughly chop the onion and garlic. Add the onion and garlic to the melted butter. I sauté this for 5 or so minutes until everything is soft and translucent. I add about a tablespoon of salt here too.
  2. Add about 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger and the 3 tablespoons of garam masala. I stir this a bit to blend the flavors. Next, you will add the tomato and a good tablespoon of sugar. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. I add the red pepper flakes about halfway through the process.
  3. Add the sauce to the blender and puree until very smooth. Return the tomato puree sauce to the sauté pan and add the heavy cream, stirring until well mixed. Check for salt.
  4. Roughly cut the chicken breasts and add to the mixture. Simmer for about 20 minutes, season with salt if needed.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 463Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 146mgSodium: 2087mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 5gSugar: 11gProtein: 31g

Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

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