The Chicken Tikka Masala Origin Story
Chicken Tikka Masala was supposedly born in Glasgow when a customer complained about his chicken curry being dry. To remedy this situation, the restaurant chef added some tomato soup to the mix and VOILA! This British-Indian dish was born.
Many people speculate on whether or not this is actually true but when it comes to making Chicken Tikka Masala, I like to use that story as inspiration. Take a chicken laden with Indian spices and mix it with a light and creamy tomato gravy.
Spice it up
When it comes to Indian food, I always remember what Reshma, my Indian cooking instructor, taught me. Don’t be afraid of spices.
As Chicken Tikka Masala is a beloved British-Indian recipe, the curry often remains mild. My heavy hand simply can’t abide by that. So, as true to form with most of my curries, I added a little extra to get all the flavors going.
In terms of heat, it’s still relatively mild so if you are the type of person who likes their curries flavorsome but can’t handle the heat, then this is the curry for you. For all those of you who like things spicy, just add some more cayenne pepper and chopped chilies to the mix.
Cream or no cream?
God knows I simply adore cream. It’s one of my favorite things to cook with and I’ve happily added it to pasta, gravies for roasts, desserts, soups, and sauces. However, when it comes to adding it to a curry, I just can’t. My brain just won’t allow that addition.
So, instead of cream, I use yogurt and butter (cream’s close cousin) to get that rich and velvety tomato gravy for my Chicken Tikka Masala. If you are one of those people who love cream in their Chicken Tikka, then swap out the yogurt and add it. It’s all good.
No Cream Chicken Tikka Masala
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4-6 1x
The British-Indian curry of Chicken Tikka Masala made with spiced up roast chicken in a creamy tomato masala gravy. A mild curry big on flavor. #curry #recipe #chicken #Indian #British #chickentikkamasala
1 whole chicken (about 1–2 lbs/ 0.5–1 kg) or 1-2 lb / 0.5-1 kg of chicken breasts
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar
2 green cardamom pods
1/4 tsp ground garam masala
1/2 cup (120 ml) plain full-fat yogurt
2 tsp ginger garlic paste (see note below)
1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp butter
2 onions (finely chopped)
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 chopped finger chilies
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp paprika
1 can (400 g / 14 oz) of stewed tomatoes (crushed with your hands)
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of plain full-fat yogurt
Break down the chicken into 2 wings, 2 chicken legs with thigh attached and 2 chicken breasts. Save the carcass and place in the freezer. You may want it later for stock.
Using a sharp knife, cut slits on the chicken pieces on both sides. This is to ensure a greater surface area in the chicken for the marinade to soak into. Place chicken in an oven tray.
In a food processor, combine cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, sea salt, sugar, cardamom, garam masala, yogurt, lemon juice and ginger-garlic paste. Grind together to form a paste.
Toss chicken pieces in the marinade. Make sure everything is evenly coated then cover and let marinate in the fridge for 2 hours to overnight.
When done marinating, take the chicken out of the refrigerator and let warm up to room temperature. Roast in a preheated oven for 30-45 min at 450 F / 230 C. You want to cook it until it gives just a little bounce back. Try not to overcook it since it will cook for about 20 min in the curry gravy. So don’t be afraid of it being just a little bit undercooked because it still has more cooking to do.
While the chicken is roasting in the oven, start work on the masala gravy. In a large pot, saute chopped onions in butter on medium/ medium-high heat until onions are translucent and soft.
Add ginger-garlic paste, stir and cook for a minute or so until nice and fragrant then add chopped chilies.
Cook chilies for a minute or so then add turmeric and paprika. Stir together and cook for a minute or so just to activate the spice. Add crushed stewed tomatoes and water. Stir together and bring to a boil on high heat.
Once at a boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
After 10-15 minutes, all the flavors will have married together. Puree the gravy with a hand blender or transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth.
Return mixture to pot and bring to a simmer on low heat.
Add roasted chicken pieces along with any juices leftover from the roasting pan. Stir together and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 5-10 minutes to allow all the flavors to mix together.
Add yogurt and stir together. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with basmati rice.
Ginger-garlic paste is a staple in Indian cooking. You can buy this premade in a jar or make it yourself. Combine equal parts washed and peeled ginger with peeled garlic cloves (stems removed) and puree together in a food processor until a paste is formed. Add a splash of water or vinegar to help get things moving if need be. Place in a cover container and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 60 min
- Category: Main, Chicken
- Method: Roasting, Simmering
- Cuisine: British Indian
Keywords: chicken, curry, chicken tikka masala, Indian spices, British, Indian, recipe, yogurt, ginger, garlic, onions
Have an Indian curry party with these recipes:
Andy’s Restaurant Style Spicy Chicken Balti
Simple Indian Coriander (Cilantro) Chicken Curry
Aloo Palak (Pakistani Spinach Curry with Potatoes)
Chana Masala (Vegetarian Indian Chickpea Curry)
Chilli Paneer with Sweet and Sour Garlic Sauce
The Best Restaurant Style Rogan Josh with Lamb