Chicken Tikka Masala

chicken tikka masala over rice in a black bowl

Boneless pieces of chicken thigh are marinated in yogurt and spices, chargrilled to perfection and smothered in a creamy and luscious sauce to make this insanely gorgeous chicken curry.




  1. Make the chicken tikka marinade
    In a glass bowl throw together the chicken, 2 tbsp ginger and garlic pastes, ½ cup yogurt, 1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp salt and all the powdered spices – 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp garam masala. Toss well to make sure the chicken pieces are well coated with the marinade. Cover with some cling foil and keep the bowl in the refrigerator for anywhere between 2 and 12 hours.
  2. Fry the chicken in a cast-iron skillet
    Pour the oil in the skillet and heat it just below its smoking point. It should be very hot but not so much that it gives off fumes. Carefully slide in the marinated chicken and fry until the chicken becomes brown and slightly charred but not burned black. Flip over and fry on the other side too. The chicken need not be cooked through at this point, just seared to seal in the juices.
  3. Make the chicken tikka masala sauce
    Wipe the skillet clean of any burnt bits of chicken or marinade and add the 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp butter. Heat it slightly, then add the onions and fry until golden. There’s no need to caramelize the onions to a dark reddish brown, just enough that they start changing their color. Add 2 tbsp ginger and garlic pastes, 1 tsp salt and powdered spices – 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp garam masala. Fry for a bit (5 minutes) and add the tomato puree, sugar and a cup of water. Simmer until the gravy thickens. Let it cool, then blend to a smooth sauce in a blender.
  4. Add the chicken and cream
    Add the chicken to the gravy, followed by the cream. Cook for 15 minutes or until the chicken becomes tender, then switch off. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.


  1. Make it with boneless thigh meat, not breast meat. Chicken breasts dry out at high temps and become tough. Thigh meat remains moist and succulent. If you absolutely insist on using breast meat, then make sure that you marinate the meat for 24 hours to give it a chance to absorb the spices.
  2. There are 3 ways to prep the chicken before adding to the sauce. Choose the one you want – fry it in a cast-iron skillet (preferred), fry it in a non-stick pan or broil it in the oven. If broiling it in the oven, pre-heat the oven to 525 Fahrenheit, thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and place them on a baking tray. Put the tray in the oven and broil until the edges are browned.
  3. The sauce can be frozen for future use. You can double or triple the quantity of sauce and store it in individual portions in the freezer. When the urge to have some chicken tikka masala strikes, all you need to do is prep the chicken, thaw the sauce and mix the two.


Keywords: chicken tikka masala, chicken curry, chicken dinner, Indian chicken recipe