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Chicken Tikka Masala is a flavorful blend of rice, chicken, and sauce that brings all the warmth of comfort food without all of the calories.

The name itself is a tantalizing description promising a meal full of flavor, and the dish does not disappoint. The origins of this dish are a little murky. Stories range from it deriving in Glosgow, Sweeden from a Bangladeshi chef looking to appease a customer complaining of dry chicken to an evolution of the popular butter chicken dish in India. Regardless of where you credit the beginning of this dish, the outcome is outstanding.

Since the 70’s the dish has been a signature of British cuisine, rightfully deserved. An original in the category of fusion, it brings together the spicy curries of India in an English style gravy. The flavors bind together in a creamy tomato sauce that melts into tender chicken. While it might be moving into the more intermediate dishes that cooking with Dre brings, it’s definitely doable, so let’s get cooking.

Chicken Tikka Masala Sauce
Chicken Tikka Masala Sauce Ready to Simmer With Chicken

What ingredients will I need?

This recipe calls for quite a few ingredients, so make sure you have your list ready when you go to the store. It might seem like a lot but everything will come together pretty easily once you get going.

First off, you’ll need your chicken. For this recipe we use chicken thighs cut up into chunks.

For the sauce and marinade you’ll need plain yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, butter, tomato sauce, tomato puree, onion, garlic, and heavy cream

The spice list is a good one and depending on your flavor profile may introduce you to some new spices that aren’t typically in your cupboard. you’ll need ginger, turmeric, cumin, garam masala, paprika, coriander, chili powder, and a little salt.

The final ingredient you’ll need is cooked basmati rice and chopped fresh cilantro to garnish.

Prepping the Chicken Tikka Masala

All right, you’ve got all of your ingredients, let’s get ready to go.

Start off my mixing together your turmeric, cumin, garam masala, paprika, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Split it in half so you have half for your marinade and half for your sauce.

Cut your chicken thighs into bit size chunks and put in a large mixing bowl. Add the chicken, yogurt, lemon juice, 1/2 of the garlic, 1/2 of the ginger, and 12 of the spice mix. Stir this all thoroughly so your chicken is completely coated with the marinade and put in the refrigerator for at least one hour, up to overnight.

Cook your Basmati rice either on the stove or in a rice cooker.

Cooking your Chicken

This next part of the process is going to go fast. Making sure you have all of your ingredients out and ready to go will allow you to make sure things get heated to the right temperature without overcooking or burning anything.

Once your chicken is marinated, heat a large skillet or pot to medium-high heat. Cook the chicken 2-3 minutes per side. When you are done, remove from the pan and place to the side. It will not be cooked all of the way through at this time as you will simmer it in the sauce later, which will finish the cooking process.

Cooking Chicken Tikka Masala
Marinated chicken cooking in pan

Using the same pan to keep all of that flavor, melt the butter and saute the onions until they are soft and translucent. When this is done, add the remaining garlic and ginger. Stir for 45 seconds, add the rest of the spice mix, and stir for 15-20 seconds.

The kitchen will be smelling spicy by now, so let’s get that sauce in there! Add the tomato sauce and tomato puree, water, coriander, and chili powder and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the cream and reduce your heat so your pot is at a simmer. Put the chicken back in the pot and simmer the mixture for 10-15 minutes.

Plating the Dish

Whew! Now that you’ve worked through the steps of the sauce and your dish is just about done, spoon a cup of rice into a bowl or plate. If you want to get fancy, you can put it in a small tumbler glass or side bowl, put this upside down on the bowl or plate, then take the glass or bowl off to give your rice a nice mounded look.

The last step is to simply ladle the Tikka Masala over, around, or next to the rice, and voila! You have it! This is traditionally served with Naan Bread, which is a fantastic pairing.

Plating Chicken Tikka Masala
Plating the Chicken Tikka Masala

Why we Love Turmeric In an MS Diet

In addition to the fantastic color and flavor Turmeric brings to chicken tikka masala, it also brings the antioxidants that come with the compound curcumin. Along with providing that rich, lovely color, the curcumin is a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. We know that these properties are great not just for a multiiple sclerosis diet, but for many auto-immune diseases.

While the small amount allotted in this dish is not going provide all of the health benefits necessary for daily intake, we love dishes that have these strong powerful flavors and also have health benefits. Consistently and steadily eating foods that provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatories is a key in maintaining MS health, so we love finding tasty, fun, new recipes that are delicious and healthy!

In a long line of stand out recipes in Cooking with Dre, this one rose to the top as a stand out. Add some Naan Bread on the side and you and anyone else at your table are in for a delightful treat that turns every cook into a gourmet home chef!

Please visit our Resources page if you are interested in finding some of the tools and gadgets Dre uses to make cooking accessible while combatting MS.

Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 20 min Cook Time 20 min Total Time 40 mins Servings: 4 Best Season: Suitable throughout the year

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Mix together turmeric, cumin, garam masala, paprika and salt. Divide in half.(½ for marinade, ½ for sauce)

  2. In a bowl, add chicken, yogurt, lemon juice, ½ the garlic, ½ the ginger, ½ the spice mix. Combine thoroughly, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.(up to overnight)

    Marinating Chicken
  3. Prepare Basmati rice.

    Naan Bread is also nice to serve on the side. This can be served in place of the rice or in addition to it.
  4. In a large skillet or pot, heat oil to medium-high heat and cook the chicken 2-3 minutes per side. Does not need to cook all the way through. Remove from the pan and set aside.

    Chicken Cooked Halfway in Pan
  5. In the same pan, melt butter and saute the onions until soft and translucent. Add remaining garlic and ginger, stir 45 seconds. Add the other half of the spice mix and stir 15-20 seconds.

  6. Add the tomato sauce, puree, water, coriander and chili powder, stir and bring to a boil. Stir in cream, reduce to simmer. 

  7. Add chicken and simmer 10-15 minutes.

  8. Spoon Rice onto plate or bowl and pour the Chicken Tikka Masala over the top or on the side. Serve with Rice and Warm Naan Bread and enjoy!

Note

  • You can use chicken breasts instead of thighs if desired.
  • for spicier masala. Use cayenne or red pepper for chili powder.
Keywords: Chicken Tikka Masala
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  1. Susie2

    OMG😱 This recipe was amazing. I looked at 50+ recipes and tons of videos, I chose this one and jumped in.
    I was concerned at the amounts of spices( all recipes have pretty much the same ingredients, only amnts and techniques differ. I changed sauce with San maranzano tomatoes. Also, fried onions 15 min to well caramelize. Also,fried tomatoes untill very dry,after fring spices. This took me about an hr to make, but well worth it. I also marinate the chicken 24 hrs and grilled it( oiled screen, single pieces removed from yogurt, high temp, 3-4 min a side) This sounds like a lot but ABSOLUTELY whoth it! The original recipe is good, taking the extra time when U can is amazing. Thanks so much for recipe.

    • DreAmy

      Thanks so much for the feedback! Glad you enjoyed it and love the adjustments you made! We love it when people add their own touches to make it their own. So glad you tried and enjoyed!

  1. Susie2

    OMG😱 This recipe was amazing. I looked at 50+ recipes and tons of videos, I chose this one and jumped in.
    I was concerned at the amounts of spices( all recipes have pretty much the same ingredients, only amnts and techniques differ. I changed sauce with San maranzano tomatoes. Also, fried onions 15 min to well caramelize. Also,fried tomatoes untill very dry,after fring spices. This took me about an hr to make, but well worth it. I also marinate the chicken 24 hrs and grilled it( oiled screen, single pieces removed from yogurt, high temp, 3-4 min a side) This sounds like a lot but ABSOLUTELY whoth it! The original recipe is good, taking the extra time when U can is amazing. Thanks so much for recipe.

    • DreAmy

      Thanks so much for the feedback! Glad you enjoyed it and love the adjustments you made! We love it when people add their own touches to make it their own. So glad you tried and enjoyed!

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