A passion for food + fashion

Chicken Tikka Masala

In Food on October 6, 2009 at 8:05 am

chicken tikka masala

For weeks we’ve been trying new Indian takeout places, ever since our beloved Makkah Halal Tandoori on Vermont, from which we ordered takeout once a week for the past three years, changed hands—and unfortunately, their recipes. Which left our household with a serious dilemma, given that my husband has a near chemical addiction to Chicken Tikka Masala. I took matters into my own hands, and on Sunday I tackled Chicken Tikka Masala from Cooks Illustrated, and Baked Indian Rice from Gourmet. The rice was fantastic, but worth it only if you have the time—on a weeknight, forget it.

basmati rice

The Chicken Tikka Masala on the other hand, is right out of this world. Like maybe the best ever! The blend of spices is heavenly, and the fresh ginger and serrano chile gives just the right amount of heat and depth. We all ate more than we should have—and were ready for more…

indian spices


From Cooks Illustrated, September 20017; Serves 4-6

Chicken Tikka

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon table salt

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat

1 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium garlic cloves (minced or pressed through a garlic press,about 2 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon fresh ginger (grated)

Masala Sauce

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)

2 medium garlic cloves (minced or pressed through a garlic press, about 2 teaspoons)

2 teaspoons teaspoons fresh ginger (grated)

1 serrano chile (fresh, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon garam masala [The Foodinista’s note: I used more like 1 1/2 tablespoons]

1 28 ounce-can crushed tomatoes

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon table salt

2/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

seasoned chicken breasts

FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

broiled chicken

Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve with rice.

  • chicken tikka masala

  1. I dog-eared this recipe when I saw it in CI – now I’m motivated to try it! Living in the UK back in my college years left me with a serious love of Indian cuisine… esp. this Brit-Indian classic!

    Now if only I could make decent naan without a tandoori oven…

  2. I just made the “Cooking For Two” version of this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated tonight! It was soooooo delicious! I love all of their recipes and have never been disappointed. http://wp.me/pbSEc-5Y

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