Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is chicken tikka, or chicken chunks marinated in spices and yogurt and roasted or baked in a tandoor oven, and served in a masala (mixed spices) sauce. It is so popular in Britain that the British Foreign Secretary once called it “a true British national dish”. Some think it may even have been invented in London.

There are many ways to make it, and traditional Indian cooking methods are quite time-consuming; they may involve grinding the spices on the day of cooking for freshness, and long cooking to produce very tender meats.

We chose to make it in the quickest possible way. Here’s our approach to Chicken Tikka Masala.


Here are the main spices we used:

In the center is a masala curry powder that we bought from a local Indian shop. Unfortunately we no longer know the ingredients, but we would expect it to contain cumin, pepper, cloves, cardamom, and coriander among other spices.

Clockwise from upper left are jalapeno peppers, ginger root, garlic, onion, parsley, paprika, turmeric, and xylitol which we included for a bit of sweetness. Quantities were 1 tbsp of each spice and 1 tsp of the xylitol.

We also diced 3 large tomatoes (weighing about 1.5 pound) and a chicken breast into bite-sized pieces:

Preparing the sauce

We melted some beef tallow in a wok and stir-fried the pepper, onion, ginger, and garlic for 5 minutes to bring out some of the flavor:

The ginger and garlic should be minced finely. After 5 minutes we added all the spices:

After another 2 minutes we added the tomato and cooked for 15 minutes:

Then we transferred the cooked sauce to a food processor and pureed it:

In another wok, while the sauce was cooking, we browned the chicken pieces in olive oil:

Once the chicken was browned, but well before it was cooked through, we added the pureed sauce and parsley:

Cook the chicken in the sauce for 15 minutes, and then add some Greek yogurt:

That’s it — it took us about 40 minutes. Serve it over rice:


The sauce was delicious! We kept some extra and tried it over salmon — it was even better with the salmon.

Leave a comment ?


  1. I love Indian dishes and this one looks yummy and simple. It looks quite similar to butter chicken. Thank you for sharing and making it into a simple version for us busy folks!

  2. Looks delicious!

  3. Looks great! I might try this with salmon. I never thought about this combination before. Thanks!

  4. Usually when I make this I marinate the chicken overnight in the yoghurt.

  5. Everybody loves Chicken Tikka or curry around here, yey!(Ireland) We add coconut milk and/or chicken stock to tomato sauce but it’s hard to know what is the real Indian curry as there are so many variations (like in the case of ratatouille, salade nicoise, etc). Madhur Jaffrey has a new book out, ‘Curry Easy’, now she should know.

  6. I saw this recipe the day after you posted it and thought it would make for a good supper. I wrote down a few ingredients for my shopping list and drove to the store before the storm arrived. (I live in the Midwest . . . afternoon storms are common in the spring.) The return trip took too long, so I was caught in the storm, with rain traveling sideways, clumps of leaves crashing hard against the asphalt, and the windshield wipers on high. I drove down a long tree-lined street towards my house and had to stop, for a huge oak tree now leaned across the road, its weight resting on the power lines. I looked in back to see if it was safe to make a three-point turn so as to backtrack. I had enough room to make a three-point turn, but not much more . . . another tree had been blown down and it blocked the road. I was trapped! It wasn’t safe to leave the car, for lightening continued to strike nearby, and I knew that about once a year somebody in my metropolitan area dies from a lightening strike. So I turned on the radio and listened to Terry Gross interview Jimmy Fallon, which is about a good a way to spend 20 minutes in captivity as one can imagine. Finally the storm lessened and I left the car and broke branches on the second tree until there was enough room to drive past it and backtrack. A few minutes later I made it home, only to realize the storm had knocked out the power to the entire neighborhood. And I had no Internet access and thus no detailed recipe instructions.

    So, late in the afternoon, I made this recipe from memory. I cooked it outside, on the grill. Other than the fact that I should have oiled the meat before putting it on the grate, it tasted great. That’s the magic of Indian recipes . . . you can get in the general vicinity of a recipe and the food still tastes wonderful.

  7. Hi R.K. – What a story! Glad you made it through the storm.

  8. Ben Steigmann

    Delicious – I’ve always loved this dish, but this looks like a great rendition of it.

  9. Hi Paul,

    I assume that since you used Xylitol in this dish that it is PHD friendly? What is your opinion on sweeteners? Stevia? Aspartame.. etc? which are supreme.

    • Hi BS,

      Xylitol is acceptable but we’ve gone away from it and back to natural sweeteners like honey, rice syrup, and dextrose. We don’t use sweeteners much, and only made a single purchase of xylitol in order to try it out, once it was gone we never bought more.

  10. Hi Paul,

    I made this a few days ago and it was a huge hit with everyone (although the kids may have been happier with less jalapeño). We put the excess sauce on steamed potatoes as well and it made a nice side dish the next day.

    I subbed the xylitol out for honey, but saw a bottle of agave in the pantry as well. What are your thoughts on agave as a sugar substitute? I haven’t been able to find rice syrup here yet so I’m going to order some this week.

    • Hi Chelsea,

      Agava is very high in fructose ( so we don’t recommend using it. I would go with honey on the high-fructose extreme and a safe starch syrup like tapioca syrup (or dextrose powder) on the 100% glucose end. Xylitol is OK as a zero-carb sweetener but we don’t use it any more ourselves. Brown rice syrup we’re less fond of after the arsenic reports; I wish white rice syrup were available.

  11. Here’s a great recipe for Masala Curry powder (from I use a little less than 2 table spoons of it each time I make enough to serve 4 (proportions similar to those in the recipe above). I often scale this recipe up and store the powder in a jar for future use.

    1 tbsp turmeric
    1 tbsp garam masala
    2 tsp ground coriander
    2 tsp ground cumin
    2 tsp kosher salt
    2 tsp kashmiri red chili powder (or 1 tsp cayenne)

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