My Recipe Box

Chicken Tikka Masala


Serves six to eight.

If you love Indian food, you're probably familiar with chicken tikka masala, which appears on most Indian restaurant menus. This chicken dish with its creamy, aromatic tomato sauce originated as a way to use up leftover tandoori-roast chicken sauce. Fragrant basmati rice is the perfect foil.

  • 1 2-inch-long hot green chile (preferably serrano), stemmed but not seeded, chopped
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
  • 8 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 recipe Roasted Tandoori Chicken, meat removed from bones in large pieces; try not to shred (about 5 cups)
  • 2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 Tbs. cumin seeds, toasted and ground in a spice grinder
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. garam masala (store-bought or homemade)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

In a food processor, pulse the chile and ginger until very finely chopped. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice and process until the mixture is puréed. Set aside.

Melt 6 Tbs. of the butter in a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add about a third of the chicken pieces and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken absorbs some of the butter and begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate. Repeat with the remaining two batches of chicken.

Add the remaining 2 Tbs. butter to the pan. When it’s melted, add the paprika and 4 tsp. of the cumin and stir until the spices just begin to darken, 10 to 15 seconds.

Immediately add the tomato mixture. Simmer vigorously, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the cream and 1 tsp. kosher salt and stir well.

Add the chicken and stir gently to mix. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occassionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the garam masala and remaining cumin. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

Make Ahead Tips

Chicken tikka masala tastes even better made ahead. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to four days; it also freezes well. Thaw completely before reheating on low heat and add a little additional garam masala and cumin before serving, if you like.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on eight servings, Calories (kcal): 410, Fat (kcal): 32, Fat Calories (g): 280, Saturated Fat (g): 16, Protein (g): 23, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10, Carbohydrates (mg): 9, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 3, Sodium (g): 410, Cholesterol (g): 145, Fiber (g): 2,

Photo: Scott Phillips

I like this recipe because all the ingredients are in quantities they are sold in. Makes the grocery shopping easier. I used a 6 oz container of Greek yogurt, and I got a pack of 10 large chicken thighs, and it yielded the right amount of chicken when removed from the bones. I used a can of crushed tomatoes instead of whole, just to save the step of blending them. And I added two Habenero peppers because we like spicier food. If I was making it for a group, I would stick with the pepper in the recipe. I only put in about half the cream called for, because it didn't seem to need all that. Served it with basmati rice, green bean and coconut stir fry, fried cauliflower and store-bought naan. And lots of beer.

This dish is definitely well worth the effort. I grilled the free range chicken legs (separated into thighs and drumsticks) on a Big Green Egg after marinating for 2 hours. Then made the Garam Masala using the link on the site. Much better than store bought. The only change I made to the final cooking was to add a little home made chicken stock and 1/2 tsp of sugar. Incredible depth of flavor and perfect balance between spice, citrus and fat. Great for a dinner party.

Wow - just finished making this dish and although it was labor intensive well worth the effort.

This recipe is amazing! One downside is that it's a bit labor intensive because you have to make the tandoori chicken first, but it's totally worth it. It tastes significantly better the second day, so I recommend waiting until the second day before eating it.

So Good! I just finished making this for a dinner party tomorrow. This is the second time I have made this dish. This time, I doubled the recipe and also marinated the chicken overnight. Just enough spice and heat. This is better than any Chicken Tikka Masala dish I have ever had at a restaurant.

The 5 stars is well earned for this recipe. It tastes incredible and is a lot of fun to make as you get to use so many spices, the kitchen smells wonderful. Very good for company as the cooking techniques required aren't too difficult so it's difficult to get it wrong. Try it and give it the time it deserves for the flavours to blend.


WOW! My whole family is absolutely amazed. My husband is Indian and I am still somewhat new to cooking, but we like to try to make Indian dishes at home. Next weekend we are having a little Indian dinner party and decided to give this a try this weekend - a little test run. Again I have to say WOW! This was so good. The sauce is surprisingly simple but you have to have patience and pay attention to the steps. I used Fine Cooking's Roasted Tandoori chicken recipe which was great on its own even though I was only able to marinate it for 2 hours and it cooked quicker than the recipe said it should. I'm sure the chicken will be even better when I marinate it longer and start checking for doneness a few minutes earlier. We reheated leftovers again for lunch the next day - even our fussy 10 year old loved it - and we can't wait to make it for our friends this coming weekend! This is probably better than any restaurant we've been to and rivals some amazing Tikka Masala we had in Bombay! None of the steps on their own are very time consuming but start to finish does take a while so plan carefully. I promise its worth the effort and plan to make a double batch next time.

My family loves this recipe! It takes a little planning, but it is well worth it! Also try Fine Cooking's Naan and Samosa recipes!

We love this recipe and generally double it so we can freeze some. Kids love it too!

We really enjoyed this recipe. I marinated the chicken overnight in the sauce for the Tandoori. The flavors were well blended and we did not find it to be overly spicy. Followed previous review and used 6 smaller thighs which was a good portion for 2. Had extra sauce leftover which I put in the freezer.

This is a favorite at our house. I only use 6 thighs when I make the tandoori chicken, but use the full marinade recipe. In the tikka masala, I don't cut back any ingredients and it is still has plenty of chicken. I usually use less serrano or a jalapeno, since I don't want a real spicy dish. We always serve it on brown basmait rice, usually with fruit as a nice counterpoint. This freezes well and is a great leftover for a busy night - leave it to thaw in the fridge during the day and reheat as the rice cooks; couldn't be easier!

Excellent dish. Wonderful flavors, not too spicy. I used boneless chicken thighs to save some time. Don't skimp on the marinating time before roasting the meat - I did it overnight. Made this dish a while ago using the recipe in the magazine - can't find my copy of the issue so I joined Fine Cooking Online (happily) just so that I could find it and make it again!

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