Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Part 1: Marinating and Grilling the Chicken


Chicken Tikka Masala is a beloved Indian dish that features tender, marinated chicken pieces grilled to perfection and then simmered in a creamy tomato-based sauce. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the process of creating this flavorful and aromatic dish from scratch. Part 1 covers marinating and grilling the chicken.


For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 1.5 pounds (680g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste (a blend of equal parts minced ginger and garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (adjust to your spice preference)
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Before diving into the marination process, let’s ensure that all our ingredients are prepped and ready.

Marinating the Chicken:

  1. Combine Yogurt and Spices: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the plain yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, lemon juice, salt, and vegetable oil. This mixture forms the flavorful marinade.
  2. Add the Chicken: Add the bite-sized chicken pieces to the marinade, ensuring they are well-coated. Make sure every piece is immersed in the yogurt-spice mixture.
  3. Cover and Refrigerate: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but overnight marination is ideal for maximum flavor.

Grilling the Chicken:

  1. Preheat the Grill: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. You can also use a grill pan on your stovetop if you don’t have access to an outdoor grill.
  2. Skewer the Chicken: Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto skewers, leaving a little space between each piece. If you’re using wooden skewers, remember to soak them in water for about 30 minutes before grilling to prevent them from burning.
  3. Grill the Chicken: Place the chicken skewers on the preheated grill or grill pan. Grill for approximately 4-5 minutes on each side or until the chicken is cooked through and has beautiful grill marks. The exact cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the chicken pieces.
  4. Check for Doneness: To ensure the chicken is fully cooked, use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C).
  5. Remove from Grill: Once the chicken is grilled to perfection, remove the skewers from the grill and set them aside. The smoky and charred flavor of the grilled chicken will add depth to the Chicken Tikka Masala.

Conclusion of Part 1:

With your marinated and grilled chicken ready, you’re well-prepared to move on to Part 2, where we’ll dive into creating the creamy tomato-based sauce and combining it with the grilled chicken to complete this flavorful Indian dish.

Part 2: Preparing the Creamy Tomato-Based Sauce and Combining with Grilled Chicken


Welcome back to our journey of making Chicken Tikka Masala, a beloved Indian dish known for its tender, marinated chicken pieces enveloped in a luscious tomato-based sauce. In this part of the recipe, we’ll delve into creating the creamy sauce and bringing it together with the grilled chicken to complete this flavorful masterpiece.


For the Tomato-Based Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (adjust to your spice preference)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (for garnish)

Combining with Grilled Chicken:

  • Grilled chicken skewers (from Part 1)
  • Cooked rice or naan bread (for serving)


Before diving into the sauce-making process, let’s ensure that all our ingredients are prepped and ready.

Creating the Tomato-Based Sauce:

  1. Heat Vegetable Oil: In a large, deep skillet or saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté Onion, Garlic, and Ginger: Add the finely chopped onion and sauté for about 2-3 minutes until it becomes translucent. Then, add the minced garlic and grated ginger, and continue to sauté for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Spice It Up: Reduce the heat to medium, and add the ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, and chili powder. Stir well to combine, allowing the spices to bloom and release their flavors for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Incorporate Crushed Tomatoes: Add the crushed tomatoes to the spice mixture. Stir to combine and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly.
  5. Blend Smooth (Optional): If you prefer a smoother sauce, you can use an immersion blender or transfer the sauce to a regular blender. Blend until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
  6. Add Heavy Cream: Pour in the heavy cream and water, stirring continuously to create a creamy and rich sauce. Let the sauce simmer for an additional 5-7 minutes, allowing it to thicken further.
  7. Season with Salt: Taste the sauce and season with salt as needed. Keep in mind that the grilled chicken already has seasoning, so adjust the salt accordingly.

Combining with Grilled Chicken:

  1. Add Grilled Chicken: Gently slide the grilled chicken pieces from the skewers into the tomato-based sauce. Stir well to coat the chicken with the rich sauce.
  2. Simmer Together: Let the chicken and sauce simmer together for about 5-7 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld, and the chicken will absorb the aromatic sauce.
  3. Check for Doneness: To ensure the chicken is fully infused with the sauce and heated through, check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer. It should reach 165°F (74°C).

Serving Your Chicken Tikka Masala:

  1. Prepare Accompaniments: While your Chicken Tikka Masala simmers, you can prepare your choice of accompaniments, such as cooked rice or warm naan bread.
  2. Serve: Ladle the piping hot Chicken Tikka Masala over a bed of cooked rice or alongside warm naan bread. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves for a burst of color and freshness.

Conclusion of Part 2:

With your creamy tomato-based sauce infused with grilled chicken, your Chicken Tikka Masala is now complete and ready to be savored. The combination of smoky grilled chicken and the rich, aromatic sauce creates a delightful symphony of flavors that’s sure to impress.

In Part 3, we will explore some additional serving and customization options, as well as tips for storing and reheating leftovers.

Part 3: Serving, Customization, and Leftover Tips for Chicken Tikka Masala


Congratulations on successfully creating the flavorful masterpiece that is Chicken Tikka Masala! In this final part of the recipe, we’ll explore serving suggestions, customization options, and valuable tips for storing and reheating leftovers.

Serving Suggestions:

  1. Garnish with Fresh Herbs: Just before serving, sprinkle your Chicken Tikka Masala with freshly chopped cilantro or parsley. These herbs add a burst of color and freshness to the dish.
  2. Accompaniments: Chicken Tikka Masala is traditionally served with cooked basmati rice or naan bread. You can also pair it with fragrant saffron rice, roti, or paratha.
  3. Yogurt Sauce: Serve a side of plain yogurt or raita alongside your Chicken Tikka Masala. The cool and tangy yogurt balances the rich flavors of the dish.
  4. Lemon Wedges: Provide lemon wedges for diners to squeeze over their servings. The fresh citrusy touch complements the creamy sauce.

Customization Options:

  1. Spice Level: Adjust the heat of your Chicken Tikka Masala by varying the amount of chili powder or adding a dollop of yogurt to mellow the spice.
  2. Protein Variations: While chicken is traditional, you can make this dish with other proteins like paneer (Indian cheese), shrimp, tofu, or even mixed vegetables for a vegetarian option.
  3. Cream Substitutes: For a lighter version, consider substituting heavy cream with Greek yogurt or coconut milk for a dairy-free alternative.
  4. Flavor Enhancements: Experiment with additional spices and flavorings like fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi), cardamom, or a touch of honey for a unique twist.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers:

  1. Refrigeration: If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Chicken Tikka Masala can be refrigerated for up to 2-3 days.
  2. Reheating: To reheat, you can use the stovetop or microwave. For stovetop reheating, gently warm the dish in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it’s heated through. If using the microwave, cover the container with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap, and reheat in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until it’s hot.
  3. Serving with Fresh Rice or Bread: If reheating rice, sprinkle a few drops of water over it and reheat in the microwave to restore its moisture. Freshly warmed naan bread or roti can be heated in the oven for a few minutes or briefly on a hot skillet.

Leftover Transformation Ideas:

  1. Tikka Masala Pizza: Transform your Chicken Tikka Masala leftovers into a unique pizza topping. Spread the sauce and chicken pieces over pizza dough, sprinkle with cheese, and bake until bubbly and golden.
  2. Stuffed Peppers: Hollow out bell peppers and fill them with Chicken Tikka Masala. Top with cheese and bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through.


Your Chicken Tikka Masala is not just a delicious meal; it’s a culinary adventure that brings the flavors of India to your dining table. Whether you stick to tradition or customize it to your liking, this dish is sure to satisfy your cravings for a creamy, flavorful indulgence.

As you enjoy each bite, savor the delightful fusion of smoky grilled chicken and the rich tomato-based sauce. Chicken Tikka Masala is a versatile dish that adapts to your preferences, and it’s perfect for gatherings or cozy dinners at home.

Thank you for joining us on this culinary journey. We hope you relish every moment and every bite of your homemade Chicken Tikka Masala!

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