Savor the Spices: Recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Welcome to the world of Chicken Tikka Masala, a delicious Indian chicken dish that is enjoyed around the globe. The aromatic flavors of this dish are sure to tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving more. This traditional Indian cuisine is a perfect blend of spices that work together to create a spicy chicken curry that is unmatched in taste and texture. In this article, we will guide you through the process of making authentic chicken tikka masala at home. Get ready to savor the spices!

What is Chicken Tikka Masala?

Chicken Tikka Masala is a popular Indian chicken dish that has gained popularity worldwide. The origins of Chicken Tikka Masala are somewhat unknown, with different stories claiming the dish originated in India, Bangladesh, or even the UK. However, what is clear is that it is a flavorful and delicious dish that is enjoyed by many.

Ingredients Traditional Cooking Methods
Marinated chicken Baked in a tandoor oven
Spices Grilled over charcoal
Tomatoes Cooked in a creamy sauce with onions, ginger, and garlic

Chicken Tikka Masala is typically made with boneless chicken that has been marinated in yogurt and a blend of spices, including cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala. The marinated chicken is then traditionally cooked in a tandoor oven, giving it a unique flavor and texture.

The cooked chicken pieces are then combined with a rich and creamy sauce made of tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, and more spices. The sauce is typically served over rice or with naan bread.

While traditional cooking methods involve using a tandoor oven, Chicken Tikka Masala can also be made on a stovetop or grill.

The Perfect Blend of Spices

Chicken Tikka Masala

One of the hallmarks of Chicken Tikka Masala is its distinctive and complex blend of spices. This dish is a spicy chicken curry with a rich and creamy sauce, and the spices used are crucial to achieving the perfect balance of flavors.

The traditional spice mix for Chicken Tikka Masala usually contains cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, and garam masala. Some recipes may also include additional spices like cinnamon, cloves, or cardamom. The heat level can be adjusted to taste by adding more or less chili powder or cayenne pepper.

When preparing the spice mix, it's important to use high-quality, fresh spices to ensure maximum flavor. Whole spices can be dry-roasted and ground for a more intense flavor, or pre-ground spices can be used for convenience.

However, the key to achieving the perfect blend of spices is in the balance. Too much of one spice can overpower the others, ruining the overall flavor profile. It's important to measure out the spices carefully and adjust as needed to achieve the desired taste.

Spice Tips:

  • If you prefer a milder flavor, reduce the amount of chili powder or cayenne pepper in the recipe.
  • For a more intense flavor, dry roast whole spices and grind them just before using.
  • Experiment with different spices and ratios to customize the flavor to your taste.
"The perfect blend of spices is the secret to a truly delicious Chicken Tikka Masala."
- Ayesha Curry

Marinating the Chicken

Marinating is a crucial step in preparing Chicken Tikka Masala. It not only infuses the chicken with flavor but also tenderizes the meat, making it succulent and juicy. Here's a simple yet authentic recipe to marinate chicken for Chicken Tikka Masala:

  1. Take boneless chicken pieces or chicken thighs and cut them into cubes or small pieces of uniform size.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add yogurt, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, and salt.
  3. Mix well until all the spices are combined with the yogurt.
  4. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and coat them well with the marinade.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or an airtight lid and let it sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight. The longer the chicken marinates, the more flavorful it will be.

Pro-tip: For a smokier flavor, you can use tandoori masala in the marinade or grill the chicken over hot coals to give it a charred effect and a more authentic taste.

Cooking the Chicken

Chicken Tikka Masala

After marinating the chicken, it's time to cook it to perfection! The cooking method will vary depending on your preference and equipment, but there are a few key tips to keep in mind for a delicious chicken curry.


To cook the chicken on the stovetop, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and let it heat up for a minute.

When the oil is hot, add the marinated chicken pieces to the skillet in a single layer. Cook for 5-6 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the chicken is browned on all sides and cooked through.

If you have a lot of chicken to cook, you may need to work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.


If you prefer to cook the chicken in the oven, preheat it to 375°F.

Place the marinated chicken pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure they're not touching. Bake the chicken for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through and tender.

If you want a more charred finish, broil the chicken for the last 5 minutes of cooking.


For a delicious tandoori chicken tikka masala, consider grilling the chicken!

Preheat your grill to medium heat. Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto skewers and place them onto the grill grates. Cook for 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and nicely charred.

No matter which cooking method you prefer, make sure the chicken is cooked through before adding it to the sauce.

Preparing the Sauce

One of the key elements of Chicken Tikka Masala is the rich and flavorful sauce that coats the tender pieces of chicken. While there are many pre-made sauces available, making your own at home is easy and delicious. Here's how:


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion until softened and lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another minute.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, cumin, paprika, coriander, turmeric, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine all the spices and let the mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes break down and the mixture thickens.
  4. Use an immersion blender or transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.
  5. Return the sauce to the skillet over medium heat and add the heavy cream. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the flavors have melded together. Add the chopped cilantro if using.
  6. At this point, you can adjust the seasoning to your liking. Add more salt or cayenne pepper if you want a spicier sauce, or more cream to mellow out the heat.

Once you've prepared the sauce, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze it for up to 3 months. The sauce is now ready to combine with the chicken for a delicious homemade Chicken Tikka Masala!

Combining Chicken and Sauce

Chicken Tikka Masala

Now that the chicken and sauce are prepared, it's time to come together and create the iconic and delicious Chicken Tikka Masala. The key to achieving the perfect combination is to pour the prepared sauce over the cooked chicken, allowing it to simmer gently for a few minutes. This allows the chicken to fully absorb the rich flavors of the sauce, resulting in a mouth-watering meal that will have you reaching for seconds.

It's important to remember to balance the flavors of the chicken and sauce while combining them. Taste as you go and adjust the seasonings as needed to achieve the perfect balance between spicy and savory. Once you've achieved your desired level of flavor, serve your Chicken Tikka Masala hot, garnished with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice.

For an authentic experience, serve with fluffy basmati rice, naan bread, or roti. This popular Indian recipe is the perfect addition to any dinner table and is sure to impress your guests with its bold flavors and delicious aroma.

Serving Suggestions

Chicken Tikka Masala is a popular Indian recipe that is best enjoyed with some flavorful accompaniments. Here are some serving suggestions to elevate your Chicken Tikka Masala experience:

  • Basmati rice: This long-grain rice is the perfect partner for Chicken Tikka Masala. Its nutty aroma and fluffy texture make it a go-to choice for many.
  • Naan bread: This traditional Indian flatbread is great for sopping up the rich and delicious sauce that accompanies Chicken Tikka Masala.
  • Roti: Another type of Indian bread, roti is a whole wheat flatbread that is light and fluffy. It pairs well with Chicken Tikka Masala.
  • Cucumber raita: This refreshing side dish is made with yogurt, cucumber, and spices like cumin and mint. It helps balance out the spiciness of the Chicken Tikka Masala.

Of course, you can always experiment with your own sides and accompaniments to find what works best for you. Enjoy!

Tips and Tricks

Chicken Tikka Masala is a flavorful dish that requires some attention to detail to get just right. Here are some tips and tricks to guide you in making the best Chicken Tikka Masala:

  • Marinating the chicken for at least 2 hours will ensure that it is infused with flavor and tenderized for optimal texture.
  • When cooking the chicken, it is important to not overcook it. This can result in tough and dry meat that won't absorb the sauce as well.
  • For a healthier twist, consider using Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream to thicken the sauce. This will give you a similar texture with less fat.
  • If you don't have access to a grill or oven, you can still achieve similar results by using a grill pan or broiling the chicken in the oven.
  • When preparing the sauce, use high-quality spices and fresh ingredients to ensure the best flavor. Experiment with different spice blends to find your perfect balance of heat and flavor.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop or microwave, adding additional liquid to the sauce if necessary.

By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to enjoying a delicious and authentic Chicken Tikka Masala!

Healthier Alternatives

While Chicken Tikka Masala is undeniably delicious, it can be a heavy dish that is high in calories and fat. However, there are some simple swaps you can make to create a healthier version of this classic Indian recipe.

One option is to use skinless chicken breast instead of chicken thighs, which are higher in fat. You can also reduce the amount of oil in the recipe by using a non-stick pan or an oil spray.

If you're looking for a vegetarian or vegan version, you can substitute the chicken with tofu or paneer and use a plant-based yogurt for the marinade and sauce. Adding in more vegetables, such as bell peppers, zucchini, or carrots, can also increase the nutritional value of the dish.

Another alternative is to use quinoa or cauliflower rice instead of white rice as a side dish. These options are lower in calories and are a great source of fiber and nutrients.

By making these small changes, you can still enjoy the delicious flavors of Chicken Tikka Masala while keeping it healthy and nutritious.

Recipe Variations

If you're looking to switch up the classic recipe, Chicken Tikka Masala is a versatile dish that lends itself well to experimentation. Here are some fun recipe variations to try:

Vegetarian/Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala

Replace the chicken with tofu or paneer, and use coconut milk instead of heavy cream for a creamy vegan version. Alternatively, try adding vegetables such as mushrooms, cauliflower, or bell peppers for a hearty vegetarian option.

Spice Blends

Explore different spice blends to create new and exciting flavor profiles. Try using garam masala, tandoori masala, or even a curry powder for a twist on the traditional recipe.

Adding Fruits or Nuts

For a sweet and savory Chicken Tikka Masala, try adding diced apples or raisins to the sauce. Or, for some added crunch, sprinkle some chopped cashews or almonds on top as a garnish.

Grilled or Smoked Chicken

To add a smoky flavor to your Chicken Tikka Masala, grill or smoke the chicken before adding it to the sauce. This will give the dish a delicious depth of flavor that will have your taste buds tingling with delight.

No matter which variation you try, don't be afraid to get creative and experiment with different ingredients and cooking methods. Who knows, you may just come up with your own unique twist on this beloved dish!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you're new to cooking Chicken Tikka Masala or have some doubts regarding its preparation, don't worry! We've got you covered with these frequently asked questions:

How spicy is Chicken Tikka Masala?

It depends on how much chili powder or other spicy ingredients are used in the recipe. If you prefer less heat, you can reduce the amount of chili powder or replace it with mild paprika powder. Alternatively, you can add more yogurt or cream to reduce the spiciness.

What are some serving suggestions for special dietary requirements?

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can use tofu or paneer as a substitute for chicken. For gluten-free options, try using cornflour or gluten-free flour as a thickener. If you are on a low-carb diet, you can serve Chicken Tikka Masala with cauliflower rice instead of regular rice.

How do I store Chicken Tikka Masala?

You can store Chicken Tikka Masala in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. You can also freeze it for up to three months. Make sure to cool it to room temperature before storing it and reheat it thoroughly before serving.

Can I make Chicken Tikka Masala in advance?

Yes, you can marinate the chicken in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. You can also prepare the sauce in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days. When ready to serve, cook the chicken and combine it with the sauce.

We hope these frequently asked questions have helped to clarify any doubts you may have had about cooking or serving Chicken Tikka Masala. Happy cooking!