Tikka Masala

Tikka Masala was the first Indian dish I really nailed. Like, I sat down and actually complimented myself on how incredible my meal was. It was spicy, flavorful, and good down to the very last bite.  It was a major accomplishment! Indian recipes look complicated. The list of seasonings seem to go on for infinity. I don’t have a tandoor or any clay pots. I usually go to the store, look at my shopping list, chicken out, and head for a prepackaged sauce and call it a day. And that’s okay! But don’t let the small things get ya down. This Tikka recipe changed my mind and hopefully, it will change yours!

This creamy tomato based sauce is packed with flavor and paired with chicken marinated in fragrant spiced yogurt. Topped on a bed of basmati rice and a side of fresh Naan (recipe here) and it’s a meal set for comfort.

Really allow your chicken to marinate. I give mine at least an hour if not the recommended overnight. This recipe calls for a lot of scraping of delicious browned bits and spices at the bottom of your pan, too. Make sure you have a sturdy spoon to use! I take to the project with either metal or wood utensils. You really wanna be able to scrape all the goodies up! I also make mine with the optional evaporated milk instead of cream. The flavor is incredible and I don’t miss the cream, or the extra calories, at all.

This incredible recipe was found through Café Delights, original recipe is found HERE. Erin and I both make this weekly. We hope you do, too!

Tikka Masala


For the chicken marinade:

  • 28 oz (800g) boneless and skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili (or 1/2 teaspoon ground red chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable/canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 small onions (or 1 large onion) finely diced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon ginger finely grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 14 oz (400g) tomato puree (tomato sauce/Passata)
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili (optional for colour and flavour)
  • 1 teaspoon ground red chili powder (adjust to your taste preference)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups of heavy or thickened cream (use evaporated milk for lower calories)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water if needed
  • 4 tablespoons Fresh cilantro or coriander to garnish


  1. In a bowl, combine chicken with all of the ingredients for the chicken marinade; let marinate for 10 minutes to an hour (or overnight if time allows).
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. When sizzling, add chicken pieces in batches of two or three, making sure not to crowd the pan. Fry until browned for only 3 minutes on each side. Set aside and keep warm. (You will finish cooking the chicken in the sauce.)
  3. Melt the butter in the same pan. Fry the onions until soft (about 3 minutes) while scraping up any browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. 
  4. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant, then add garam masala, cumin, turmeric and coriander. Fry for about 20 seconds until fragrant, while stirring occasionally.
  5. Pour in the tomato puree, chili powders and salt. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens and becomes a deep brown red colour.
  6. Stir the cream and sugar through the sauce. Add the chicken and its juices back into the pan and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and bubbling. Pour in the water to thin out the sauce, if needed.
  7. Garnish with cilantro (coriander) and serve with fresh, hot basmati rice.