Chicken Tikka Masala

December 20, 2010
By Holly Jennings


I made this recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala from Entice with Spice for the first DCCC potluck, where it was a big hit. This rich and creamy dish with an elegant balance of Indian spices is great for special occasions or when you feel like treating yourself to something indulgent. This recipe involves a two-step process, making it one of the few recipes in Entice with Spice that takes longer than 30 or 35 minutes to make. The first step is to make Chicken Kebabs (Murgh Tikka), which, in Entice with Spice, is presented as a separate recipe in the appetizer chapter. The second step is to make the Chicken Tikka Masala, which involves making a masala, pureeing it, and then adding cream and the cooked chicken to it.

Here I’ve combined the two steps and have adapted the recipe to serve six to eight people. I suggest making this amount because even if you’re serving fewer people, you will wish you had leftovers the next day. And as long as you’re going to the trouble to make it, in this case, more is better. 

To minimize the work needed to prepare this dish, especially if you’re entertaining, you can spread it out over three days: marinate the chicken overnight, make the kebabs the next day, and make the Chicken Tikka Masala the day of the dinner. Chicken Tikka Masala goes nicely with bread or rice.

Tip: When reheating Chicken Tikka Masala, heat over low heat and keep a close eye. When I reheated it for the DCCC potluck, and was distracted by meeting and greeting members, I nearly burned it. You can the dark underside of some  chicken pieces in the photograph. If you’re more attentive than me, your CTM will be perfectly beautiful.

Serves 6

Total prep time: 25 minutes + a minimum of 1 hour of marinating, including 30 minutes to soak skewers (you may marinate up to 1 day in advance)

Total cook time: 35 minutes

Refrigerator life: 3 days

Freezer life: 1 month

Reheating method: Place the refrigerated or defrosted Chicken Tikka Masala in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir periodically. A less preferred method is to place the Chicken Tikka Masala in a microwave, cover and stir periodically. 

For the chicken kebabs

1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast 

8 to 12 mini bamboo skewers (about 4 to 6 in/ 10 to 15 cm), soaked in water for 30 minutes 

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, for oiling sheet pan 

Marinade for the kebabs

3 tablespoons vegetable oil 

1 tablespoon minced garlic 

Juice of 1 lime 

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg 

¼ teaspoon ground coriander 

¾ teaspoon paprika 

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne) 

¾ teaspoon salt 

½ teaspoon ground black pepper 

2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade plain yogurt (see Entice with Spice for recipe) 

For the CTM

4  tablespoons vegetable oil

4 teaspoons minced garlic 

4 teaspoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger 

1 large onion, diced 

1 large fully ripe tomato, chopped 

1 teaspoon cumin seeds 

1 teaspoon ground coriander 

2 teaspoons paprika 

1 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne) 

1½ teaspoons salt 

1 teaspoon ground black pepper 

3 teaspoons sugar 

One 2-in (5-cm) cinnamon stick 

4 tablespoons butter 

Juice of 1 lime 

½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream 

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons water 

  1. Wash the chicken with cold water and cut into ¾-in (2-cm) cubes.
  2. Mix together the ingredients for the marinade in a medium bowl. Add the chicken cubes and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to 1 day.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). While the oven is heating up, remove the chicken from the refrigerator to allow it to come to room temperature.
  4. To make the kebabs: Spread 1 tablespoon of oil evenly on a sheet pan. Thread the chicken cubes evenly on the skewers. Lay the skewers on the oiled baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Turn and bake for 7 minutes more, or until there are no signs of pink when you insert a knife through the chicken.
  5. To make the Chicken Tikka Masala: Pour the oil into a large saucepan and place over medium heat. When the oil is heated, add the garlic, ginger and onion. Sauté until the onion is golden brown, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the tomato. Cover the saucepan. Cook until the tomato becomes completely soft and mashed and is combined with the onion to form a coarse paste, stirring every minute or so and lightly mashing the tomato, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the cumin seeds, coriander, paprika, red pepper, salt, black pepper and sugar. Stir to combine. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. This is the masala (spice base). Transfer the masala (be careful, since it is hot) to a blender and blend until a smooth paste is formed.
  8. Return the smooth paste to the saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick, butter, lime juice, heavy cream and water. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Enjoy now or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later!

(Recipe adapted by Holly Jennings, and printed with the express permission of Tuttle Publishing, Recipe introduction was written by Holly Jennings.)

0 Comments to “Chicken Tikka Masala”

  1. Tonya says:

    Thanks for this! I check this book out at the library often (I work there) and I couldn’t find my copy of the kebab recipe to go with my Chicken Tikka Masala recipe from this book. I found it on your site, which saved me! Thanks for this. I will say that I don’t make the chicken as kebabs exactly. I cut the chunks up, marinate them, and place them on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees instead of skewering them. They come out fabulous.

  2. Thanks for sharing your kebab idea, Tonya. It’s sounds like an easy and delicous adapation. I’m glad you like Entice with Spice. You must have access to loads of great cookbooks at the library, lucky you!


Leave a Reply