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This classic Indian dish is our go-to when we order takeout, but it's actually so easy to make at home. The only ingredient you might not have already have in your pantry is garam masala—it's basically the Indian version of Chinese five-spice powder. This spice blend is found in dishes like aloo gobi, butter chicken, and dal. You'll want to add it to everything once you've got a jar on hand.
What does tikka masala taste like?
Tangy and deeply spiced, tikka masala is a tomato and cream sauce that traditionally includes garam masala, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and chiles. It also features all the delicious flavors from a batch of the same spices included in the tikka marinade.
What's the difference between chicken tikka and chicken tikka masala?
Chicken tikka refers to chicken that's been marinated in yogurt and then roasted. You can find chicken tikka served on skewers or roasted and served dry. The "masala" in chicken tikka masala refers to the cream sauce that the meat is served in.
How is tikka masala different from curry?
Curry and tikka masala are both spiced, sauce-based dishes with origins in the Indian subcontinent; however, tikka masala (unlike its cousin butter chicken) is believed to hail from Indian diaspora in the United Kingdom in the 1960s. Curry tends to be made with a coconut base, while tikka masala has a cream base.
This recipe was updated on September 1, 2022, to reflect changes to the recipe and to include more information about the dish.
- 6 serving(s)
- Prep Time:
- 25 mins
- Total Time:
- 1 hr 50 mins
cloves garlic, grated
- 1 tbsp.
grated peeled fresh ginger (from a 1" piece)
- 2 1/2 tsp.
- 2 tsp.
- 2 tsp.
- 1 1/2 tsp.
- 1/3 c.
plus 1 tbsp. tomato paste, divided
- 1 c.
- 2 lb.
skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp.
vegetable oil or ghee
yellow onion, finely chopped
to 3 fresh red chiles, seeded and finely chopped, or 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 1/2 c.
- 1 c.
- 1/2 c.
fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped, plus more for serving
Steamed basmati rice and naan, for serving
- Step 1In a small bowl, mix garlic, ginger, garam masala, coriander, turmeric, cumin, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until a paste forms.
- Step 2In a medium bowl, stir yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and half of spice paste until well combined; cover and refrigerate remaining spice paste. Place chicken on a cutting board. Using a paring knife, make a few shallow cuts in each breast. Add to bowl and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours.
- Step 3In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and chiles and cook, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add remaining 1/3 cup tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining spice paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Step 4Stir in tomato puree and 1/2 cup water, scraping up any browned bits in bottom of pot. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often and reducing heat to low if needed to maintain a gentle simmer, until mixture thickens, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in cream and gently simmer, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Step 5Meanwhile, preheat broiler with an oven rack 6" from heat. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack inside sheet. Transfer chicken with marinade to rack and arrange in a single layer. Spoon any remaining marinade in bowl over chicken. Broil until chicken is mostly cooked and marinade has thickened and is golden in spots (chicken will not be fully cooked at this point), 10 to 12 minutes.
- Step 6Cut chicken into bite-size chunks. Add chicken and cilantro to tomato mixture. Very gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Step 7Divide rice among bowls. Spoon chicken tikki masala over. Top with cilantro. Serve with naan alongside.
Nutrition (per serving): 439 calories, 36 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 24 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 796 mg sodium