Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
Believe it or not, Chicken Tikka Masala (CTM) is the National Dish of England – and yes, it IS absolutely that good! This delicious dish has its origins in Birmingham, England and was created as a resourceful way of using chicken tikka (or grilled chicken pieces). These flavorful pieces of chicken were then added to a very rich aromatic curry and voila, Chicken Tikka Masala was born.

The key to this dish is in the marinade, the longer the better! I usually make a little extra chicken when I am grilling – so we can have Chicken Tikka today & Chicken Tikka Masala the next day, it’s a win-win all around! This dish is usually mild (but full of flavor!) so it’s great for the kids but feel free to add a few fresh Thai green chilies if you prefer a spicier version.

CTM is very often confused with a similar dish known as Butter Chicken. Now Butter Chicken is thought to have originated in Delhi and the Mughlai influences in the dish are quite prevalent. The two dishes are, however, very different and distinct in both preparation and taste. To add to the confusion are the numerous variations both dishes can provide. Either way, both dishes are certainly winners in their own right ☺.



1 to 1½ lbs boneless/skinless chicken pieces, scored (slightly deep cuts for marinating)

For the CTM Marinade

1 cup thick yogurt (Greek style is great)
1 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3-4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1½” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
2 tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste

For the CTM Curry

1 large onion, finely diced
4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced
2” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
2-3 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
1 tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
2 tsp garam masala
½ tbsp smoked Spanish paprika
salt & pepper, to taste
2-3 cups tomato puree (about 4-5 plum tomatoes)
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ tbsp Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), gently crushed with your palms
½ cup yogurt (or cream)
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish


In a large mixing bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients & whisk together until well combined. Now add the chicken, stir well to make sure that all of the chicken pieces are well coated with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 2-3 days, stirring periodically to make sure the chicken is evenly marinated.

Now there are a few different ways to cook the chicken: first, shake off any excess marinade. Discard any remaining marinade, do not re-use. You can grill the chicken pieces on an outdoor grill/bbq. You can also cook the chicken using a grill pan right on your stovetop. Lastly, you can use the oven and broil the chicken. Basically, arrange the chicken on a foiled lined baking dish or tray. Then broil for about 5-6 minutes/side or until slightly charred. Whatever method you decide to use, this dish requires that lovely charred/smoky flavor. The chicken doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through since it will finish cooking in the curry. When the chicken has cooled for about 10-15 minutes, cut the chicken into large pieces (about 1½ to 2” in size).

*Now these chicken pieces are simply known as Chicken Tikka, you can serve them with a squeeze of lemon and your favorite chutneys & sauces. When you add these pieces to a rich tomato based curry, you have CTM.

In a large deep pot (a Dutch oven works great) on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the onions and sauté until lightly browned. Then add the garlic along with the ginger & green chilies. Sauté for a few more minutes until aromatic & fragrant, then add the spices (turmeric, red chili powder, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, garam masala, paprika, salt & pepper). Let the spices cook for a few minutes before adding the tomato puree & tomato paste. Let cook for 5 minutes and then the chicken pieces to the curry. Mix well to combine, cover, reduce the heat to simmer & let cook for an additional 5-6 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked. Do not overcook, the chicken pieces should be tender & succulent. Generally, this is a thick curry but if you prefer, feel free to add a little water until your desired consistency is reached. Now stir in the dried fenugreek leaves and allow the curry to cool for about 5-10 minutes before adding in the yogurt so it won’t curdle. Garnish with the cilantro leave and serve with fresh naans & fragrant jeera pulao (cumin scented rice).


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You Should Also Read:
Butter Chicken Recipe
Tandoori Chicken Recipe
Shrimp Tikka Masala Recipe

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