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Chicken Tikka Masala

5 from 6 votes
Published on 12/12/2023 by Umamiology
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The best Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is robust, creamy and rich in masala flavoring – and leaves a delightfully warm & buttery taste in your mouth, that lasts the whole day.

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I’ve been to India a couple of times in my old life (as a corporate marketing exec) – and I’ve had the pleasure of tasting some of the best curries in the world. In India, the craftmanship, when it comes to flavor blending of their many rich spices, is just masterful.

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But out of all of the curries I’ve had in my travels, my favorite is still Chicken Tikka Masala – which interestingly enough, is not actually a traditional Indian curry. Rumor has it that chicken tikka masala actually originated from Indian immigrants that made their way to the UK and crafted a variation of the popular Butter Chicken dish. As a result, chicken tikka masala is now considered, by many, to be the national dish of Britain – and is perhaps the most popular cuisine in that region.

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Either way, I must have tasted hundreds of different kinds of chicken tikka masala dishes in my lifetime and with the traditional Indian curry experiences I’ve had when I traveled to Delhi and Mumbai – I’ve come up with my own spin on this popular dish, that I think is the perfect blend of all of the great spices and flavors that make this curry so amazing.

The Ingredients for Chicken Tikka Masala

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  • 6oz Chicken Thigh (boneless/skinless)
  • Ginger Garlic Paste
    • 3 cups Ginger (chopped/peeled)
    • 3 cups Garlic (peeled)
    • 1 cup Water
  • Chicken Marinade
  • Tikka Masala Paste
  • Tikka Masala Gravy
    • 2 cups Tikka Masala Paste
    • 14 oz Tomato Puree
    • 1.5 cups Water
    • 1.5 cups Heavy Cream
    • 1/4 cup Indian Yogurt
    • 1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro
    • 4 tablespoons Butter (optional)
  • 3 cups Basmati Rice

The Equipment Needed

Create Your Ginger Garlic Paste

Start with 3 cups of chopped & peeled ginger and 3 cups of peeled garlic.

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Combine in a food processor with 1 cup of water and blend until you get a near smooth mixture. Set aside.

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Create Your Tikka Masala Paste

In a saucepan (on low heat) combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 shredded red onions, 4 tablespoons of the ginger garlic paste you made previously, 2 teaspoons of cumin, 2 teaspoons of turmeric, 2 teaspoons of coriander, 2 teaspoons of Kashmiri Chili Powder, 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika, and 3 teaspoons of garam masala.

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Toast all of the ingredients until it forms a dark red paste.

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Mix in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and turn up the heat on the stove to medium. Let the paste cook for a few minutes then remove from the heat and set aside.

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This should yield about 4-5 cups of the Tikka Masala paste. You can store/freeze this and use any time you want to make this recipe again.

Prep And Marinade Your Chicken

Chicken Tikka Masala is usually made with dark meat – chicken thighs. Start by chopping your chicken thighs into 1 inch cubes.

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Then, in a large mixing bowl, combine your chicken thighs with 1/2 cup Indian yogurt, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 2 teaspoons Kashmiri Chili Powder, 2 tablespoons of ginger garlic paste, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of 1 whole lemon.

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Mix well and let sit in the fridge overnight or at least 2 hours.

Smoke Your Chicken

Traditional chicken tikka masala is done with chicken that has been cooked in a tandoori oven. But since most of us don’t have access to a tandoori oven, the next best thing is to smoke your chicken over in a smoker grill.

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This step provides that charred smokey flavor to the chicken, and when mixed with your tikka masala gravy, it gives it that signature chicken tikka masala taste.

Take your marinated chicken and skewer them onto your bamboo skewers.

Then fire up your smoker to 250°F degrees and lay your chicken skewers onto your grill and smoke for approximately 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 160°F.

Then, raise the temperature of your grill to 500°F and give your chicken a nice sear to develop that charred crust. Pull off of your grill and set aside.

Pan-Sear Your Chicken

If you don’t have a smoker, the next best option is to pan-sear your chicken. (For the purposes of this recipe, I’ve decided to pan-sear the chicken.)

In a frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of neutral oil and place your marinated chicken thigh pieces on the pan, over medium heat. After about 3 minutes of cooking, flip the chicken pieces, and let the other side cook for another 3 minutes.

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Then turn your heat to high and let the chicken sear until a slight char forms and flip the chicken and repeat for the other side.

Craft Your Tikka Masala Gravy

To your pan of seared chicken, add in 2 cups of the tikka masala paste, 14 oz of pureed tomatoes, 1 cup of water and place over medium heat until it starts to simmer.

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Add in 1.5 cups of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of Indian Yogurt and mix until the gravy comes to a boil.

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Reduce heat to low and let simmer.

Plating Your Chicken Tikka Masala

Basmati rice is the proper rice to serve with this delicious curry dish.

Cook 3 cups of Basmati rice and spread it over a wide bowl.

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Ladle on your chicken tikka masala gravy on top of the basmati rice and sprinkle on some freshly minced cilantro.

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Serve and enjoy!

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Chicken Tikka Masala

5 from 6 votes
The best Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is robust, creamy and rich in masala flavoring – and leaves a delightfully warm & buttery taste in your mouth, that lasts the whole day.
Author: Umamiology
Servings: 4
Prep Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
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Ingredients 

  • 6 oz Chicken Thigh, (boneless/skinless)
  • 3 cups Basmati Rice

Ginger Garlic Paste

  • 3 cups Ginger, (chopped/peeled)
  • 3 cups Garlic, (peeled)
  • 1 cup Water

Chicken Marinade

Tikka Masala Paste

Tikka Masala Gravy

  • 2 cups Tikka Masala Paste
  • 14 oz Tomato Puree
  • 1.5 cups Water
  • 1.5 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 cup Indian Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro, (chopped)

Instructions 

Create Your Ginger Garlic Paste

  • Start with 3 cups of chopped & peeled ginger and 3 cups of peeled garlic.
  • Combine in a food processor with 1 cup of water and blend until you get a near smooth mixture. Set aside.

Create Your Tikka Masala Paste

  • In a saucepan (on low heat) combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 shredded red onions, 4 tablespoons of ginger garlic paste, 2 teaspoons of cumin, 2 teaspoons of turmeric, 2 teaspoons of coriander, 2 teaspoons of Kashmiri Chili Powder, 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika, and 3 teaspoons of garam masala.
  • Toast all of the ingredients until it forms a dark red paste.
  • Mix in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and turn up the heat on the stove to medium. Let the paste cook for a few minutes then remove from the heat and set aside.
  • This should yield about 4-5 cups of the Tikka Masala paste. You can store/freeze this and use any time you want to make this recipe again.

Prep And Marinade Your Chicken

  • Chicken Tikka Masala is usually made with dark meat – chicken thighs. Start by chopping your chicken thighs into 1 inch cubes.
  • Then, in a large mixing bowl, combine your chicken thighs with 1/2 cup Indian yogurt, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 2 teaspoons Kashmiri Chili Powder, 2 tablespoons of ginger garlic paste, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of 1 whole lemon.
  • Mix well and let sit in the fridge overnight or at least 2 hours.

Smoke Your Chicken

  • Traditional chicken tikka masala is done with chicken that has been cooked in a tandoori oven. But since most of us don't have access to a tandoori oven, the next best thing is to smoke your chicken over in a smoker grill.
  • This step provides that charred smokey flavor to the chicken, and when mixed with your tikka masala gravy, it gives it that signature chicken tikka masala taste.
  • Take your marinated chicken and skewer them onto your bamboo skewers.
  • Then fire up your smoker to 250°F degrees and lay your chicken skewers onto your grill and smoke for approximately 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 160°F.
  • Then, raise the temperature of your grill to 500°F and give your chicken a nice sear to develop that charred crust. Pull off of your grill and set aside.

Pan-Sear Your Chicken

  • If you don't have a smoker, the next best option is to pan-sear your chicken. (For the purposes of this recipe, I've decided to pan-sear the chicken.)
  • In a frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of neutral oil and place your marinated chicken thigh pieces on the pan, over medium heat. After about 3 minutes of cooking, flip the chicken pieces, and let the other side cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Then turn your heat to high and let the chicken sear until a slight char forms and flip the chicken and repeat for the other side.

Craft Your Tikka Masala Gravy

  • To your pan of seared chicken, add in 2 cups of the tikka masala paste, 14 oz of pureed tomatoes, 1 cup of water and place over medium heat until it starts to simmer.
  • Add in 1.5 cups of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of Indian Yogurt and mix until the gravy comes to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and let simmer.

Plating Your Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Basmati rice is the proper rice to serve with this delicious curry dish.
  • Cook 3 cups of Basmati rice and spread it over a wide bowl.
  • Ladle on your chicken tikka masala gravy on top of the basmati rice and sprinkle on some freshly minced cilantro.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 1358kcalCarbohydrates: 183gProtein: 33gFat: 56gSaturated Fat: 28gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 163mgSodium: 825mgPotassium: 1841mgFiber: 11gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 3130IUVitamin C: 54mgCalcium: 428mgIron: 8mg

*Nutritional information is just an estimate derived by an online calculation tool.

FAQ

What does chicken tikka masala taste like?

Chicken tikka masala is robust, creamy and rich in masala flavoring – and leaves a delightfully warm & buttery taste in your mouth.

What are the key spices in chicken tikka masala?

The key spices in chicken tikka masala are ginger garlic paste, cumin, turmeric powder, ground coriander, Kashmiri chili powder, smoked paprika, and garam masala.

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