Chicken Tikka Masala

When the air turns cool, we start cooking chicken with hearty, creamy sauce and everyone is happier because of it. This chicken tikka masala is my family’s absolute favorite dinner. I love to make it because it isn’t too hard, I can do most of the preparation work earlier in the day so the dinner hour isn’t too hectic, and I like making food that reminds me of London.


It is so nice to make something for dinner that everyone loves, that is naturally gluten free and that causes cheers and applause to erupt from the children. After my two year old has eaten every particle of the rice and chicken, he sticks his head into his bowl and will lick and lick until there is no sauce left.

I don’t have any scientific evidence here, but it seems to me that little kids naturally like Indian food. I’ve seen many a child slurp up the sauce from our local Bombay House and I am always amazed that my little one year olds will eat the tikka masala with no upturned noses. Start your kids early and they will eat interesting and fun foods. Well, any food where the main ingredients are cream and tomatoes. Really, what is not to love here?

The recipe hails from my sister-in-law who insisted that we try it because her taste buds were in heaven. I agree. You should try it.

chicken tikka masala (1 of 3)

A few notes:
The original recipe has you cut the chicken before you cook it and thread it on a skewer to grill. That works wonderfully, but the problem is it takes a long time and I try to avoid cutting up raw chicken as much as possible.  We eat this a lot as a family, so I usually opt for the easier way by cooking the breasts whole on the grill and I love how juicy the chicken turns out when cooked as a whole breast.

I like to cook this on the grill, even in the dead of winter, but if you don’t want to freeze in the middle of the winter , you can cut the chicken up before adding it to the marinade. After the chicken is done marinating, make sure to get as much marinade off of the chicken as possible, then saute the chicken in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the chicken pieces are white all the way through.

If my dinner hour is going to be crazy, I make the sauce earlier in the day, or the night before and keep it in the fridge, then reheat with the chicken when we are ready to eat.  It’s best on day two anyway.

My family loves these leftovers so I one and one half this recipe when I make it.

chicken tikka masala


Chicken Tikka Masala
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Hearty and delicious, with a hint of spice.
Recipe type: Indian
Serves: 6
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. In a medium size bowl combine the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, pepper, one teaspoon of salt and fresh ginger. Put the marinade in a resealable plastic bag with the chicken. Seal the bag, massage the marinade around the chicken so it is evenly coated, and leave in the fridge for one to two hours.
  2. Prepare the sauce: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and jalapeno and saute for one minute or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the cumin, paprika and salt, and stir for thirty seconds. Add the tomato sauce and bring sauce to a simmer, simmer over low heat for ten minutes. Add the cream. Continue cooking until heated through and then turn off the heat and keep the sauce warm.
  3. Prepare the chicken: Take the chicken out of the plastic bag and wipe off the excess marinade. Place the chicken on a large baking sheet and the some olive oil over the chicken, then rub it around so the chicken is evenly coated. Grill the chicken over low heat for about 20 minutes total, ten minutes per side, until a digital meat thermometer registers at 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast. Remove the chicken from the grill and wrap in foil for five minutes. After the chicken has rested, cut it into bite size pieces. Add the chicken to the sauce.
  4. Serve over rice with the cilantro as garnish. We like jasmine rice, but basmati is traditional.







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