Mastering The Art Of Chicken Tikka Masala

homemade chicken tikka masala recipe

Chicken tikka masala is a beloved dish that originated in the UK, but has its roots in Indian cuisine. It is a rich and creamy curry dish made with marinated and grilled chicken pieces, cooked in a tomato-based sauce with a blend of aromatic spices. It is known for its bold flavours, luscious texture, and fiery kick. In this cooking guide, we will hence delve into the history of chicken tikka masala, explore its unique characteristics, and certainly learn how to make it at home like a pro.

History of chicken tikka masala

thick and delicious chicken tikka masala recipe
(Credit: Raman / Unsplash)

The origins of chicken tikka masala are somewhat debated, but it is believed to have originated in the 1960s in the UK. It is said that a British chef accidentally created this dish when a customer complained that the grilled chicken was too dry. The chef therefore decided to salvage the chicken by simmering it in a spiced tomato-based sauce, resulting in the birth of chicken tikka masala. Afterwards, it has become an iconic dish in British cuisine and has gained immense popularity worldwide.

Is chicken tikka masala very spicy?

chicken tikka masala recipe in a restaurant
(Credit: Azmaan Baluch / Unsplash [cropped])
Yes, chicken tikka masala is known for its spicy flavours. However, the level of spiciness can be adjusted according to personal preference. The spice level can be controlled by adjusting the amount of chilli powder or using a milder variety of chilli. If you prefer a milder version, you can also reduce the amount of chilli powder or use a mild paprika instead. Alternatively, if you enjoy a fiery kick, you can increase the amount of chilli powder or add some chopped green chillies to the sauce.

How is tikka masala different from curry?

dipping spoon in chicken tikka masala recipe
(Credit: Pushpak Dsilva / Unsplash [cropped])
Chicken tikka masala is often mistaken for a curry, but there are some key differences between the two. While both dishes are made with a blend of spices and a tomato-based sauce, the main difference lies in the cooking technique and ingredients used. Chicken tikka masala involves marinating and grilling chicken pieces, while curry typically uses stewed or sautéed meat or vegetables. The spices used in tikka masala are also distinctive, with a focus on flavours like cumin, coriander, and paprika, while curries may have a wider range of spices depending on the regional variations. Additionally, chicken tikka masala has a creamy and velvety texture due to the addition of yoghurt, while curries are often thinner in consistency. 

Impress your family with this chicken tikka masala recipe

chicken tikka masala recipe with side dishes
(Credit: Kalyani Akella / Unsplash [cropped])
Today, Tikka Masala is a staple in Indian and British cuisine, and it has become a global favourite for its delicious taste and versatility. It can be made with different variations of spices and heat levels to suit individual preferences, making it a versatile dish that can be customised to your liking.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients for chicken tikka:

  • 500g boneless chicken pieces, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Salt, to taste

Ingredients for sauce:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 can (400g) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander) for garnish

Cutlery required:

  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Skewers for grilling
  • Grill or oven
  • Large saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Blender or immersion blender (optional)

How to make chicken tikka masala:

  1. In a Mixing Bowl (available on Walfos Official Store), combine the ingredients for the chicken tikka marinade and mix well to form a smooth paste.
  2. Add the Boneless Chicken (available on PickMe Official Store) to the marinade and coat them thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavours to meld and the chicken to absorb the marinade.
  3. Before using wooden skewers for grilling, soak them in water for about 30 minutes to prevent them from burning. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat or preheat your oven to 220°C for roasting.
  4. Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto the skewers, leaving a little space between each piece. If using a grill, grill the chicken for 10 – 12 minutes, turning occasionally, until cooked through and slightly charred. Otherwise, if using an oven, place the skewers on a lined baking sheet and roast for 15 – 20 minutes.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the skewers and set aside.
  6. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and cook until soft and golden.
  7. Afterwards, add the minced garlic and grated ginger to the saucepan and cook for another 2 minutes, until fragrant.
  8. Following that, stir in the tomato paste, ground cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, chilli powder, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ground nutmeg. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly, to toast the spices and develop their flavours.
  9. Thereafter, add the diced tomatoes to the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened and the flavours have melded.
  10. Using a blender, blend the tomato mixture until smooth. If using a blender, be careful as the mixture will be hot. Alternatively, you can skip this step if you prefer a chunky sauce.
  11. Afterwards, return the blended tomato mixture to the saucepan and add the heavy cream. Stir well to combine and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer.
  12. Subsequently, add the chicken pieces and simmer for another 5 – 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavours to meld together. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and additional spices if desired.
  13. Serve hot, garnished with chopped fresh cilantro (coriander) on top.

How to store leftover chicken tikka masala?

If you have leftovers, you can store them in an Airtight Container (available on LocknLock Singapore Official Store) in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When reheating, you can gently warm it up on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching the bottom. You may also need to add a splash of water or cream to adjust the consistency, as the sauce can thicken upon refrigeration.

Be a master chef at home with this chicken tikka masala recipe

With its tantalising flavours and creamy tomato sauce, this dish will certainly impress your family and friends. Whether you’re grilling, roasting, or using the stovetop, the key is in the marinade and the spices. Remember to adjust the spiciness to your preference and don’t forget the cilantro garnish for that final touch of freshness. So why not give it a try and experience the authentic taste of chicken tikka masala in the comfort of your own kitchen? Alternatively, you can also experiment with these best Indian curry recipes for a change!