Chicken Tikka Masala, with its most delicious looks and flavor-packed gravy, is a lovely treat at a weekend dinner, potlucks, or get–together. The sheer delight that each mouthful bite brings is inexplicable. This rich and creamy dish will exhilarate the senses and drive your taste buds to sheer ecstasy.
Prepare this unbelievably luscious dish and enjoy the applause it brings to you from your enthralled family and friends!
What is Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Tikka Masala is a lip-smacking non-veg delicacy where the juicy, tender bites of chicken are dunked in flavor-packed, rich, creamy curry sauce. This recipe has marinated chicken pieces grilled to perfection on a tandoor or oven grill, which are then plunged into the saucy gravy that embellishes the dish with its balanced blend of intense spice flavors.
It is one of those most cherished dishes worldwide and needs no introduction to an ardent enthusiast of non-veg food. Relishing upon this dish takes you to the pinnacle of a blissful culinary experience!
In short, it’s a complete gourmet favorite’ and heart-warming delicacy. This recipe flaunts a decent fan base and is served in all Indian restaurants worldwide.
Reasons You’ll ♡ Chicken Tikka Masala
There are myriad reasons to love this heavenly dish. It is a dish so ambrosial that you would love to dive into its heavenliness.
However, here is a list of a few reasons that make you its admirer —
- It is a comforting food that brings absolute solace to any meal.
- Although marination calls for patience, the dish itself is quick, easy to prepare, and super satisfying to delve into.
- It is a make-ahead dish; you can cook the gravy, grill the chicken in advance, and store it. When it’s time to serve, assemble them all and come up with the most delectable surprise for your family!
- This dish’s thick and creamy sauce is perfect with rice or naan.
- You can revel in its deliciousness with every succulent morsel!
Difference between Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken / Chicken Makhni
Before we get on to the difference between Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken, mentioning their popularity is indispensable. Both dishes are loved around the globe for their richness and drool-worthy deliciousness.
However, a few distinguishing facts make them distinct in their unique way. Though both dishes feature chicken in a tomato-laced, cream-based sauce, there is a subtle difference in preparation. Here are the major lines of their difference —
Chicken Tikka Masala —
- Consists of marinated white meat boneless chicken chunks that are grilled to a smoky flavor in a tandoor.
- Upon being perfectly charred; these chicken chunks are then dunked into the richly flavored tomato-based gravy (sauce) that is subtly spiced with the choicest flavors.
- This dish is less spicy and uses less butter than Butter Chicken.
- It also uses a lesser amount of cream, unlike Butter Chicken which uses a relatively more significant amount.
Butter Chicken/ Chicken Makhni —
- As the name suggests, Butter Chicken is prepared with abundant butter. Undoubtedly, this dish turns out to be buttery and creamier.
- Butter Chicken also has tomato-based gravy and is generally more spiced, but the tanginess is exquisitely neutralized using honey or sugar.
- This adds mild yet noteworthy sweetness to the recipe that is so exclusive!
Chicken Tikka Masala Ingredient List
Don’t let the long list of ingredients and the steps-to-make-this-Chicken tikka masala recipe deter you from trying this recipe. This dish may have a lengthy process, but I can guarantee it is well worth it!
Chicken Breasts — This recipe uses chicken breasts cut into cubes. You can use chicken thighs too.
Lemon Juice — Helps to tenderize the chicken pieces and adds a hint of lemony flavor.
Yogurt — Tenderizes the chicken pieces and makes them more succulent. Always use thick-hung curd or Greek yogurt for marination.
Onions — They add an earthy and robust taste to our rich and delicious gravy.
Ginger- Garlic paste — This paste renders an intense gingerly spice and flavorsome pungency of the garlic to the chicken pieces.
Kashmiri Red Chilli powder — It is known to intensify the color beautifully and add subtle chili hotness that’s ethereal.
Spices — Coriander Powder, Cumin Powder, Garam Masala: These spices, in combination, add bright flavors to the drool-worthy dish.
Kasoori Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) — Renders the dish with a unique flavor and aroma that puts the dish over the top.
Tandoori Masala Powder — An ideal mix of the most aromatic and flavorsome spices, Tandoori Masala Powder adds a kick of heat and spiciness to the succulent Chicken Tikka pieces.
Whole spices — A perfect combination of whole spices lend aroma to the recipe besides a blissful flavor that takes things over the edge!
Tomatoes/ Tomato Puree — Tomatoes form the base ingredient for a supremely rich and colorful sauce gravy. Tomato puree adds to the incredible creaminess and vibrancy of the gravy.
Green Chillies — Added to the dish to bring the right amount of hotness to the otherwise subtly spiced gravy.
Cashew nuts and melon seeds — A blend of cashew nuts and melon seeds paste gives the gravy its richness and the exquisite creaminess that the dish is loved for.
Coriander leaves — Chopped coriander leaves are added to the prepared dish, making it a complete show-stopper!
Cream — Lends smoothness and soothing subtleness to the gravy.
Oil/ Butter — Any mild-flavored oil or butter/ ghee is used for cooking the rich gravy sauce.
How to make Chicken Tikka Masala
This section walks you through a detailed step-by-step recipe with pictures. Please scroll down to the bottom of this post for the FULL, printable recipe card.
Rinse Chicken — Add chicken pieces to a glass bowl. Rub the pieces under tap water to get rid of the bacteria. Drain and set aside.
PROTIP— When it comes to handling meat, be rest assured safety is my first concern, and I am very well aware of basic hygiene. Although I DO prefer to rinse the chicken in a bowl (to avoid splashing) before cooking to eliminate any pathogenic bacteria it may contain because of all the handling and packaging.
Marinate Chicken — Combine the rinsed chicken pieces with lemon juice and salt in a large whisking bowl. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate the chicken for at least 30 minutes.
Prepare the second marinade — Add yogurt to a large whisking bowl. Add Kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder, ginger-garlic paste, Haldi (turmeric), garam masala powder, cumin powder, tandoori masala powder, and kasoori methi to it. Mix until all the ingredients are well blended.
After 30 minutes, add this second marinade to the chicken pieces. Rub the marinade all over the chicken until all the pieces are covered in it.
Cover the bowl and allow the chicken to marinate for 4-5 hours.
PROTIP— If you have time, you can refrigerate the chicken for at least 2 hours. The longer it marinates, the better it tastes.
Grill the chicken — After the marination time is done, Preheat the oven to @400°F. Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto the skewers. Line the skewers on a baking tray and grill in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until done. Once done, remove from skewers and set aside.
PROTIP— Remember the chicken pieces will be cooked in the gravy, too; therefore, do not overcook the chicken.
Soak Cashews — Add cashew nuts and melon seeds to a bowl. Pour water and allow them to soak for 30-40 minutes. After the soak time is over, add the soaked cashews and melon seeds mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. The melon-cashew mix should be smooth, not gritty in texture.
Prepare the gravy — Heat mustard oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add whole black cardamom and bay leaves. Lightly sauté the whole spices in oil to release their aroma and flavor. Add cumin seeds to the whole spices and as they start to crackle, stir in the ginger-garlic paste and cook until the raw smell is gone. Add the minced onions and green chilies, and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring in between to avoid burning.
Stir in tomato purée and tomato paste. Cook until the oil separates. Add whisked yogurt, coriander powder, Haldi powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, salt, and tandoori masala powder. Mix until everything is well blended.
Add the melon-cashew mix to the simmering masala. Mix it well. Stir in garam masala powder and kasoori methi, and mix again. Close the burner and allow the masala to cool completely.
Transfer it to a blender, add 1/4 cup of water, and pulse, until smooth.
Assemble Chicken Tikka Masala — Pass the pureed tikka masala through a sieve into a large pan. Press to sieve all the liquid through the strainer. Discard the gritty stuff.
The chicken tikka masala is strained to attain that soft and velvety texture. Add 1¾ cup of water to dilute the masala. Add cream and mix until blended.
Time to add grilled chicken tikka to the gravy. Lower the heat and allow the gravy to simmer. Add butter pieces and mix it well. Allow the chicken tikka masala to simmer for 4-5 minutes over medium-low heat. Once done, take it off the heat.
Finish the dish — Finally, finish the Chicken tikka masala with a swirl of cream, garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and serve alongside Tandoori garlic roti.
Do not overcook — A lip-smacking Chicken Tikka is ideally cooked on a tandoor/ grill until charred. It is then added to the lusciously prepared gravy for a finished Chicken Tikka Masala. Take care not to overcook the dish, as this will result in rubbery and chewy chicken pieces. Cook it until it is completely coated with sauce, and let it soak the flavors themselves!
Expert tips & Variations
Use ghee or butter — If you are not a fan of mustard oil, use ghee or butter. When the clarified butter/ ghee or butter is used for cooking the gravy, it enhances the dish’s overall flavor and takes it to another level. It gives a distinct nutty fragrance that makes it so heavenly!
Pat-dry the chicken pieces — Marinating the chicken has its importance. Each piece needs to be coated with the marinade to work upon them and turn them into the most flavorsome and juiciest chunks. So pat dry each piece before adding the marinade so that moisture can be kept under control and the marinade sticks well to each piece.
Importance of lemon juice — Lemon juice is added to the chicken pieces as it is known to tenderize the meat. You can also add papaya paste in place of lemon juice. The result will be just as great.
Use full fat or Greek Yogurt — Full fat or Greek yogurt adds creaminess to the gravy while also tenderizing the meat. Before adding, whisk it to a smooth paste-like consistency and remember to lower the flame, or else the yogurt may curdle up and spoil the entire preparation.
Use Kashmiri Chilli Powder — Adding red chili powder to the gravy may turn it overly hot. Kashmiri Red Chilli powder provides just the required hotness while also adding beautiful color to the gravy to make it look irresistible.
Tomato puree works best — It imparts smoothness to the gravy and adds to its structure. However, you can also use finely diced tomatoes and sauté till they turn mushy and blend well with the gravy.
Substitute for Cream and Yogurt — To make your dish dairy-free, you can substitute cream with coconut milk and yogurt with plant-based yogurt. The creaminess of the gravy will not be compromised.
Variations of the dish — If you want to turn this recipe into a complete vegetarian one, you can replace chicken with tofu, paneer, or any vegetables of your choice. This dish can be made with different meat or vegetable protein components.
To level the spiciness — Quintessentially, this recipe is subtly spicy and warming. However, you may adjust the spice level according to your preference.
Always use fresh spices — Fresh spices furnish the recipe with more aroma and flavor and deliver extraordinary results. Older herbs, on the contrary, have lost their potency and are less flavorful.
Marinating is the key — Marinating is the secret to the most succulent and flavorful chicken chunks. This process helps the chicken to tenderize while also adding loads of deliciousness. Marinated chicken can sit in the fridge for up to 24 hours and come out as the juiciest, most tender, and flavorsome chicken on being grilled.
Let me know what you think!
So here is the most authentic Chicken Tikka Masala recipe that you should try for your dinner. It’s always a great idea to pamper your taste buds with a delicious dish like this! Isn’t it?
So let’s dive straight into its step-by-step preparation.
Should you make this recipe, please let me know your thoughts by sharing your comment below. And don’t forget to share it with your family and friends.
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Chicken Tikka Masala
- 2.2 LB Boneless Chicken cut into cubes
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ cup Yogurt whisked
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri Red chili powder
- 1½ teaspoons Coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon Ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon Garlic paste
- ¼ teaspoon Haldi (Turmeric powder)
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
- 1½ teaspoons Cumin powder roasted- bhuna jeera
- 1½ tablespoons Homemade tandoori masala
- 1 tablespoon Kasoori methi/ dried fenugreek leaves
INGREDIENTS FOR MASALA
- 10-12 – Cashews
- 1 tablespoon Melon seeds charmagaz
- 2 tablespoons Mustard Oil
- 2 – Bay leaves
- 2 – Whole Black Cardamom
- 1¼ teaspoons Cumin seeds
- 1¼ teaspoons Ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon Garlic paste
- 2 medium Onions minced
- 2 – Green chilies
- 2 medium Tomatoes minced
- 2½ tablespoons Yogurt whisked well
- 1¾ teaspoons Coriander powder (sukha dhaniya)
- ⅓ teaspoon Haldi (Turmeric powder)
- 2 teaspoons Kashmiri Red chili powder
- 1 tablespoon Tandoori Masala
- 3 tablespoons Cream divided
- 2 tablespoons Garam Masala Powder
- 1 tablespoon Kasoori methi/ dried fenugreek leaves
- 1¾ cups Water
- 1¾ tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- – – Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoons Chopped cilantro leaves
- – – Chopped cilantro leaves
- – – Green Chilies
- – – Cream
- Combine the rinsed chicken pieces with lemon juice and salt in a large whisking bowl.
- Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate the chicken for at least 30 minutes.
- Add yogurt to a large whisking bowl. Add Kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder, ginger-garlic paste, Haldi (turmeric), garam masala powder, cumin powder, and tandoori masala powder to it.
- Crush and add Kasoori methi.
- Mix until all the ingredients are well blended.
- After 30 minutes, add this second marinade to the chicken pieces.
- Rub the marinade all over the chicken until all the pieces are covered in it.
- Cover the bowl and allow the chicken to marinate for 4-5 hours.
COOK THE CHICKEN
- After the marination time is done, Preheat the oven @400°F. Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto the skewers.
- Line the skewers on a baking tray and grill in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until done.
- Once done, remove from skewers and transfer them onto a clean plate. Cover and set them aside.
PREPARE THE GRAVY/SAUCE
- Add cashew nuts and melon seeds to a bowl. Pour water and allow them to soak for 30-40 minutes. After the soak time is over, add soaked cashews and melon seeds mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. The melon-cashew mix should be smooth, not gritty in texture.
- Heat mustard oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add whole black cardamom and bay leaves.
- Lightly sauté the whole spices in oil to release their aroma and flavor. Add cumin seeds to the whole spices.
- As they start to crackle, stir in the ginger-garlic paste.
- Cook until the raw smell is gone.
- Add the minced onions and green chilies.
- Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring in between to avoid burning.
- Stir in tomato purée and tomato paste.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until the oil separates.
- Add whisked yogurt, coriander powder, Haldi powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, and salt.
- Add tandoori masala powder and mix until everything is well blended.
- Add the melon-cashew mix to the simmering masala. Mix it well.
- Stir in garam masala powder, kasoori methi, and mix again.
- Close the burner and allow the masala to cool completely.
- Transfer it to a blender, add 1/4 cup of water, and pulse, until smooth.
ASSEMBLE CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA
- Pass the puréed tikka masala through a sieve into a large pan.
- Press to sieve all the liquid through the strainer. Discard the gritty stuff.
- The chicken tikka masala is strained to attain that soft and velvety texture. Add 1¾ cup of water to dilute the masala.
- Add cream and mix until blended.
- Time to add grilled chicken tikka to the gravy.
- Lower the heat and allow the gravy to simmer.
- Add butter pieces and mix it well. Allow the chicken tikka masala to simmer for 4-5 minutes over medium-low heat.
- Once done, take it off the heat. Finish the Chicken tikka masala with a swirl of cream, garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and serve alongside Tandoori garlic roti.