Chicken Tikka Masala is a popular Indian dish that combines tender pieces of chicken with a rich and flavorful tomato-based sauce. While it may seem intimidating to recreate this beloved restaurant-style dish at home, this easy step-by-step guide will simplify the process and allow you to enjoy the bold flavors of Chicken Tikka Masala in the comfort of your own kitchen.


Before we dive into the cooking process, let’s take a look at the ingredients you’ll need to make Chicken Tikka Masala:

– 1.5 pounds (700g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
– 1 cup plain yogurt
– 2 tablespoons lemon juice
– 2 teaspoons ground cumin
– 2 teaspoons ground coriander
– 1 teaspoon ground paprika
– 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
– 1 teaspoon garam masala
– ½ teaspoon chili powder (adjust according to your spice preference)
– 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
– 1 large onion, finely chopped
– 3 cloves of garlic, minced
– 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
– 1 can (14 ounces) of crushed tomatoes
– 1 cup heavy cream
– Salt, to taste
– Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Marinating the Chicken

The first step in preparing Chicken Tikka Masala is to marinate the chicken. This step allows the chicken to soak up all the aromatic flavors and become tender. In a bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground paprika, ground turmeric, garam masala, and chili powder. Mix well until all the spices are evenly incorporated into the yogurt.

Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and ensure they are coated thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or place the chicken and marinade in a ziplock bag. Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour, but preferably overnight to achieve maximum flavor.

Preparing the Sauce

While the chicken is marinating, let’s prepare the sauce for your Chicken Tikka Masala. In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until they become translucent and soft, stirring occasionally. This process usually takes about 5 minutes.

Next, add the minced garlic and grated ginger to the pan and cook for another minute until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic as it can turn bitter. To enhance the depth of the sauce, add the crushed tomatoes to the pan. Stir everything together and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.

Cooking the Chicken

Once the sauce has simmered, it’s time to cook the marinated chicken. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and carefully thread the chicken pieces onto skewers. If using wooden skewers, remember to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes beforehand to prevent them from burning.

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Grill the chicken skewers for about 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are fully cooked and slightly charred. Alternatively, you can also cook the chicken in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the skewers and transfer it directly into the simmering sauce. Stir the chicken into the sauce, ensuring each piece is coated. Allow the chicken and sauce to cook together for an additional 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and the chicken to absorb the sauce’s richness.

Finishing Touches

To add a luscious and creamy touch to your Chicken Tikka Masala, pour in the heavy cream and stir until it is fully incorporated. This will give your sauce a velvety texture and mellow out the spices. Allow the sauce to simmer for another 2-3 minutes to heat the cream through.

Taste the Chicken Tikka Masala and season with salt according to your preference. If desired, you can also adjust the level of spiciness at this point by adding more chili powder or a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Garnish the dish with fresh cilantro to add a pop of color and freshness. Traditionally, Chicken Tikka Masala is served with steamed basmati rice or warm naan bread, which is perfect for sopping up the delicious sauce.

With this easy step-by-step guide, you can now confidently prepare Chicken Tikka Masala in the comfort of your own home. The combination of tender chicken and aromatic spices, simmered in a rich tomato-based sauce, will have your taste buds dancing with delight. So, the next time you crave the flavors of India, remember that Chicken Tikka Masala made simple is just a few steps away!

Remember to experiment with the spice levels to suit your preference. Whether you like it mild or fiery hot, Chicken Tikka Masala can be customized to satisfy every palate. Enjoy this classic Indian dish and let its vibrant flavors transport you to the bustling streets of India.

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