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Easy Chicken Tikka Masala

As you, my foodie followers know, I absolutely love Indian food.  I have been trying to perfect some of the recipes I have posted here previously since I always seem to modify them each time I make them, either by a changing the spices or varying the cooking technique etc.  It's good to mature and perfect, right?

Chicken Tikka Masala is (I think I heard this fact) the most popular Indian dish (outside of India) in the world, and I make it quite a bit, at least once every 2 months.  I've tried several versions of this prolific meal,  but this one from Aarti Sequeira, a Food Network star  - contained in her cookbook Aarti Paarti - is a simple and amazing take.  Other recipes have almost a half page listing of spices, yet this one, only a few.  I must admit, I was very skeptical.  How could all of the flavors come out with only ginger, garlic, paprica and garam masala?  I went for it and prepared Aarti's version, almost to the letter,  and it was amazing.  The difference here I think, from my other attempts,  was the broiling of the chicken thighs.  The smokey flavor was a family pleaser.

I hope you enjoy this also.

- Foodie Mama


Chicken Tikka Masala

(serves 4)


For the Chicken:
  • 1.5 lb boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, cut into 2" chunks
  • 1 C plain yogurt
  • 1 T grated, peeled fresh ginger or dried equivalent (1t)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
For the Curry Sauce:
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (about 2T)
  • 2 T grated, peeled fresh ginger or dried equivalent (1 t)
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 t garam masala
  • 2 t paprika
  • 1 can (28oz) crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted preferred)
  • 3/4 C water
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 T dried fenugreek leaves
  • 3/4 c heavy cream
  • Chopped cilantro (for garnish and serving)


Step 1:  Marinate the chicken
  • In a large bowl, sir together the yogurt, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper.  Fold in the chicken pieces and coat well with the yogurt mixture.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes on the counter, or up to overnight, covered in the refrigerator.
Step 2:  Make the curry sauce
  • While the chicken is marinating, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil and butter.  When the butter has melted, add the garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper and pepper flakes.  Saute until lightly browned, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until the paste has darkened a little; about 3 minutes.  Add the garam masala and paprika and saute for about a minute.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, water and salt.  Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat to allow to cool while the chicken cooks.
Step 3:  Cook Chicken and assemble the dish
  • Heat oven to broil, with rack 4-5 inches below the broiler coils.  Cover a baking sheet with foil and a wire rack to prevent sticking. 
  • Place the chicken on the the rack, ensuring no crowding.
  • Broil the chicken for 7 minutes per side, until charred and cooked fully through. (see Figure 1)
  • Return the curry sauce to a boil and add the cooked chicken and fenugreek leaves.
  • Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered,  for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Stir in cream and garnish with cilantro. 
  • Serve over Basmati rice.  See Figure 2.
Figure 1: Charred Chicken Thigh Pieces


Figure 2:  Chicken Tikka Masala