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Chicken Tikka Masala

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It’s funny how quickly a new dish can become a go-to.

Easy Chicken Tikka Masala | Finding Time for Cooking

Indian food has been a challenge for a long time…in restaurants, even when it’s mild it’s usually too spicy for me.  But I’ve also had several recipes I was dying to try.  The intense combination of spices, held together with creamy sauces, is just too much to resist.

chicken-tikka-masala-bowl-2

I finally pulled myself together over winter break and gave this a try.  Part of that was just making sure I had all the spices I needed.  And I was shocked at how easy this dish was to make, how satisfying, and how great the leftovers were.  So I made it a few days later.  And the week after that.

It’s now in my regular rotation, because the lunch leftovers are unbeatable.  Pair it with some of my delish and easy homemade naan, and you’ve got an exotic and yet comforting winner.  Don’t be scared by the ingredient list, because you make the paste once and it will last you through several batches.

chicken-tikka-masala-paste-prep

For the masala paste, pulse all the ingredients in the food processor until smooth.  Set aside roughly one-sixth of the paste for making a batch of masala right now, and store the rest in the fridge or freezer. (Pro tip: if freezing, I recommend separating out into separate portions and then putting in double ziploc bags in the freezer).

chicken-tikka-masala-chicken-yogurt-spices

Marinate the diced chicken in the yogurt, lemon juice, garam masala, pepper, and ginger, mixing well.  Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

chicken-tikka-masala-paste

chicken-tikka-masala-paste-cooking

Go ahead and get your rice cooking, this won’t take long…

Heat a drizzle of oil in a very large skillet or big saucepan on medium.  Add the serving of masala paste (should be roughly 1/4 of a cup, but I like to go a bit more).  Stir around in the pan until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.

chicken-tikka-masala-chicken-cooking

Add your chicken and all the yogurt it was marinating in.  Cook for a couple minutes.

chicken-tikka-masala-tomato-sauce

Add the tomato puree and water, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Chicken tikka masala | FindingTimeForCooking

Add the coconut milk and continue simmering, for at least 10 minutes, until your chicken is fully cooked through.  You can keep simmering longer though, it gives a better flavor.  Salt as you go, tasting it from time to time.

When the chicken is cooked, assuming your sauce isn’t thick enough (mine is always pretty watery), thicken up as needed.  I usually add some tomato paste, and then combine some water and cornstarch to thicken things up (lower the heat to help it thicken a bit).

Indian food made easy...chicken tikka masala

Serve with the rice and some homemade naan.  For storing leftovers, I go ahead and stir the rice and sauce together, to keep the rice from drying out.

Chicken Tikka Masala

For the Masala Paste (makes ~6 batches of masala)

  • 2 onions (I used one yellow, one purple)
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, paste or crushed
  • 3 tablespoons of garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons of ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (I went light, as I don’t like things spicy)
  • A small pile of of cilantro stems
  • A fistful of almonds
  • The juice of one lemon

For the Masala Sauce (makes 1 batch of masala; ~4-5 servings)

  • 1 1/2 cups of tomato puree + 1/2 cup of water or broth
  • 1 14-ounce can of coconut milk (I’ve mostly used light)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (taste and adjust)
  • Thickening; I use cornstarch + water, as well as some tomato paste

The rest (also makes 1 batch of masala)

  • 12 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced evenly
  • 1 cup of plain 2% fat greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 cup of uncooked basmati or jasmine rice (cooked according to your preference)
  1. Marinate the diced chicken in the yogurt, lemon juice, garam masala, pepper, and ginger, mixing well.  Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  2. For the masala paste, pulse all the ingredients in the food processor until smooth.  Set aside roughly one-sixth of the paste for making a batch of masala right now, and store the rest in the fridge or freezer. (Pro tip: if freezing, I recommend separating out into separate portions and then putting in double ziploc bags in the freezer)
  3. Go ahead and get your rice cooking.
  4. Heat a drizzle of oil in a very large skillet or big saucepan on medium.  Add the serving of masala paste (should be roughly 1/4 of a cup, but I like to go a bit more).  Stir around in the pan until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add your chicken and all the yogurt it was marinating in.  Cook for a couple minutes.
  6. Add the tomato puree and water, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Then add the coconut milk and continue simmering, for at least 10 minutes but until your chicken is fully cooked through.  You can keep simmering longer though, it gives a better flavor.  Salt as you go, tasting it from time to time.
  7. Assuming your sauce isn’t thick enough (mine is always pretty watery), thicken as needed.  I usually add some tomato paste, and then combine some water and cornstarch to thicken things up (lower the heat to help it thicken a bit).
  8. Serve with the rice.  For storing leftovers, I go ahead and stir the rice and sauce together, to keep the rice from drying out.

The masala paste and sauce recipe are from Pinch of Yum, and I’ve used the instructions from Savory Tooth for the chicken prep

Easy Chicken Tikka Masala...make one batch of the paste & you'll be able to throw together a delicious meal within half an hour

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  1. […] a while.  However, when I decided to try my hand for the first time at Indian cooking with this chicken tikka masala over winter break this year, I knew that naan had to be in the cards for me […]

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