Chicken Tikka Masala

Bangers and mash? Fish and chips? Nah. The most popular takeout dish in Britain continues to be chicken tikka masala, baked or broiled chicken “tikka” marinated in yogurt and a “mix of spices” (or masala), flavored in a smoky and subtly spicy, creamy tomato sauce. Legend has it that the dish was first created by a Bangladeshi chef in a curry shop in London, who responded to a diner’s complaint about his overcooked, dried-out chicken tikka by dousing it in canned tomato soup and cream. As the general level of Brit comfort with exotic spices and flavors rose, so too did the number of recipes for chicken tikka masala, until a national phenomenon was born.

The familiar ingredients and barely-there spice make chicken tikka masala a great choice for getting started eating and cooking Indian cuisine. The smooth, velvety tomato sauce enrobes the charred chicken in layer upon layer of flavor, resulting in a dish that is faintly exotic, but never overwhelming for beginning cooks and diners alike.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 6


  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 4 teaspoons garam masala
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1  2″ piece ginger, peeled
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed
  • 1  28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1⁄4 cup Greek yogurt
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Cooked basmati rice, for serving


In a food processor, puree turmeric, 2 teaspoons garam masala, garlic, ginger, jalapenos, and 1/2 cup water. Remove paste to a small bowl.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Without rinsing food processor, puree tomatoes, and press through a sieve.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Slice chicken breasts in half lengthwise. In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the paste, chicken, yogurt, and salt.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Marinate for 30 minutes.

Move oven rack to top position of oven, and preheat broiler on high.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Transfer chicken to a foil-lined cookie sheet and broil until cooked and blackened in spots, about 8-10 minutes.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Flip chicken and cook another 8-10 minutes.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Let cool and chop into 1-inch chunks.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add coriander and cumin; toast 4–6 minutes. Add paprika and onions; cook until soft, 6–8 minutes. Add remaining paste; brown for 5–6 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in cream and 1/2 cup water; boil. Reduce heat; simmer until thickened, 6–8 minutes.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Stir in remaining masala and chicken; season with salt. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala


Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road." He currently owns and operates the Ancho Honey restaurant in Maine.


  1. I’d love to make this. Trouble is I’d have no idea where to find some of the ingredients here.

    1. Larry, I think you’d be surprised, are you in Portland? I bet Hannafords, Trader Joes or Rosemont will have the lot – try it, I intend to SOON!

      1. Stephanie, Larry is in Yucatan, Mexico, where a lot of these ingredients are, unfortunately, really difficult to find.

  2. im so nervous i bought a can of organic tikka masala simmer sauce, however, i have a half of a cut up chicken and plan on baking the chicken and using some of the sauce as the seasoning, and a little of the remainder sauce for the rice and garnishing .Wish me luck!

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