Savoring the Allure: Chicken Tikka Masala

August 4, 2023

A Beloved Indian Delight

In American urban settings, chicken tikka masala stands tall as a beloved representation of Indian cuisine, mirroring the stature of General Tso’s Chicken in Chinese-American eateries. While there might be discussions around its true roots, there’s no debating the universal love it commands. Served atop fragrant basmati rice, this Chicken Tikka Masala, rich with sumptuous spices and a creamy texture, crafts an unparalleled gustatory joy for countless aficionados.

Upon stumbling across a gem of a recipe on, I realized that this dish, which always seemed best left to expert chefs, was within reach even for home cooks. It offered a delightful chance to dust off those seldom-used spices, including garam masala, annatto, and ground coriander.

Shockingly, the result was restaurant-quality splendor in less time than it would take for a delivery from the nearest Indian diner. A definite win in my culinary book!


Marinating the Chicken Magic

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (900g, cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons annatto powder (if you have it)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ginger (minced)

Crafting the Luscious Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter (split)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 14 oz. tomato sauce (400g)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (180 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (an option for added flair)


  1. Start by immersing the chicken pieces in the marinade mixture, ensuring each piece is well-coated. Let it rest for 2-3 hours, then drain away the marinade.
  2. Light up a large skillet on medium flame. Drench in 2 tablespoons of oil and a tablespoon of butter. As it heats up, place the chicken, ensuring all sides turn a golden brown. Simultaneously, use another skillet to melt the remaining butter. As it froths, blend in the minced garlic. Sauté for a minute.
  3. It’s spice time! Mix in garam masala, ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, paprika, and salt. As they release their fragrant notes, pour in the tomato sauce. Let it sing on simmer for about 10 minutes. Reduce the flame and as the bubbles subside, fold in the rich cream. Continue on medium-low until the sauce gains a bit of body.
  4. Introduce the golden-browned chicken to this aromatic sauce. Let them mingle and simmer together for 5-8 minutes. For those who love a green garnish, sprinkle cilantro before you serve this masterpiece alongside fluffy basmati rice.

Additional Insight

Did you know? Chicken Tikka Masala’s origin is a subject of delightful debate. Some say it originated in the UK by Bangladeshi chefs, while others believe its roots lie deep in Indian kitchens. Regardless of its birthplace, this dish’s universal appeal lies in its perfect balance of spices, tanginess, and creamy richness. Paired with basmati rice or naan, it offers an unforgettable culinary experience, evoking emotions and memories with every bite.

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