Chicken Tikka Masala

I have two favorite restaurants in town – one of them is Karma Kafe (I’ll share the other one later this week). It’s an Indian bistro that everyone in this town loves! Not only is the food amazing, but the service is bar none the best in town. It’s always packed, which says a lot about them given there are lots of options for good Indian food in this area.

I have a lot of favorites there – the veggie malai kofta (a veggie meatball like thing in cream sauce that I could literally drink), the aloo chole (chickpea and potato curry) and honestly some of the best naan I’ve ever had in my life. The garlic is my favorite!

Tonight though, I’m making one of their most popular dishes – the chicken tikka masala. If you’ve never enjoyed Indian food, this is a great entry dish to start with. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing simple about this dish in terms of flavor! But the description of chicken in a garlic tomato sauce is appealing to many people.

I’m making my version of it tonight. Wish me luck!

Screen Shot 2019-03-05 at 10.29.52 AM

photo cred: tripadvisor

Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


For the marinade:

  • 28 oz 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
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable/canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 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 can tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water, if needed
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, 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 powder and salt. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens and becomes a deep brown red color.

  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. Enjoy! 

Slightly adapated from:


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