Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chicken tikka masala

This recipe for chicken tikka masala comes from the Pioneer Woman, which is without a doubt one of the best food blogs around. I have to resist making my food blog a shot-for-shot remake of her's, because everything on her site looks so excellent. I don't have the culinary or photography skills that she has, but I'm still happy with how this turned out. Chicken tikka masala, like a lot of Indian foods, isn't a particularly photogenic dish. Still, the tastes and aromas from this dish were amazing. Doing this blog and cooking on a regular basis have made me into much more of a stickler about fresh ingredients than I used to be. The fresh ginger, garlic and cilantro really add to the smell and the taste of this dish. Fresh ginger root was an ingredient I'd never tried before, and it's a big upgrade over the grated or minced stuff you get in a jar.

I used a different recipe than the Pioneer Woman suggests for the tumeric rice, because I don't have a rice cooker. The tumeric rice with green peas turned out great and compliments the chicken perfectly.

For the chicken tikka masala:
3 whole (to 4) Chicken Breasts
Kosher Salt
Ground Coriander
Cumin, To Taste
½ cups Plain Yogurt
6 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Large Onion
4 cloves Garlic
1 piece (approximately 2 Inches) Chunk Fresh Ginger
Garam Masala
1 can (28 Ounce) Diced Tomatoes
1-½ cup Heavy Cream
Fresh Cilantro (Optional)
Chili Peppers (Optional)

For the tumeric rice
2 cups Basmati Rice
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Turmeric
About 1 cup Frozen Peas

For the chicken tikka masala:
1. Start by seasoning both sides of the chicken breasts with some kosher salt, coriander and cumin.
2. Then coat the chicken breasts completely with the plain yogurt.
3. Set the chicken on a metal cooling rack over a foil-lined baking sheet and place it about 10-12 inches below a broiler for 5-7 minutes per side. Watch carefully so as not to totally char the chicken. It should have slightly blackened edges. Remove from oven.

4. Next dice one large onion. In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions and sauté until they are slightly browned.
5. As the onions cook, mince your garlic. Next, cut off the outer skin and mince or grate a 1 by 2 inch chunk of fresh ginger. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions. Also throw in about 1 tablespoon of salt.
6. Next you are going to add about 3 tablespoons Garam Masala spice. And if you like it hot, this is also when you will add your hot chili peppers. Serranos work well.

7. Now you are going to add your can of diced tomatoes. Continue cooking and stirring, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Add about 1 tablespoon sugar. Let this mixture simmer on medium for about 5 minutes.
8. After the Tikka Masala sauce has had a chance to simmer for a little bit, add in the 1 ½ cups of heavy cream. (You can add some cayenne pepper at this point to add a little bit more spice if you want.)
9. Now, chop up your chicken breasts into chunks and stir them into the Tikka Masala sauce. A handful of chopped fresh cilantro is a nice addition if you like cilantro. Serve the rice with the Chicken Tikka Masala over top.

For the rice:
1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat.
3. Add the two cups basmati rice to the frying pan. Stir the rice in the pan for about two minutes.
4. Turn the heat on the frying pan down to medium low and add the tumeric. (A dash of curry powder works well also.)
5. Stir the rice with the tumeric for one minute.
 6. Add the spiced rice to the boiling water. Simmer for the amount of time listed on the rice package. (Usually about 20 minutes.)
7. Add the cup or so frozen peas to the finished rice and stir to mix. Don't worry about defrosting the peas. The hot rice will warm them nicely.

The final product:


  1. Alex- this is my absolute favorite Indian dish! Now we're gonna have to try to make it at home! Loved your commentary in the beginning of the post :)

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  3. Nice post! Keep it up the good work.