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Easy chicken tikka masala in a coconut sauce for turmeric newbies

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Get hooked on turmeric with this gingery coconut chicken dish

How fun is your spice cabinet? Do you try new spices once a week, or is the most exotic spice in your cabinet garlic powder? If it is, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. You just need to step out of your comfort zone a little. I know the first time I ever tried turmeric, it was when I had tandoori chicken. Mixed with other spices, it added so much earthy depth of flavor to the chicken.

More: 20 heavenly golden elixirs made with turmeric

If you’ve never had turmeric before, it has ginger and orange notes, but it can also be a little bitter. It's most commonly used in Indian and Southeast Asian cooking.

Here's a simple chicken tikka masala dish for trying out turmeric. The chicken is delicious even without the coconut sauce if you're not quite ready for that adventure.

More: 20 recipes that show why turmeric is everyone's favorite food trend

Chicken tikka masala in coconut-turmeric sauce recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 16 minutes | Total time: 21 minutes

Serves 2


  •  4 chicken thighs, skins on
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, crushed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 (13-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric, divided
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Rice, for serving


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon of turmeric, the cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, ground ginger and mustard seeds. Add the chicken, and coat well.
  2. To a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the chicken thighs, skins down.
  3. Cook the chicken for 6 – 8 minutes on each side, until browned.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pan, and discard any drippings.
  5. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and ginger, and sauté for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  6. Add the coconut milk and tomato sauce. Season with the remaining teaspoon of turmeric and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir to combine, and add the chicken thighs.
  7. Once the sauce has boiled, reduce to a simmer for 8 minutes.
  8. Garnish the chicken with cilantro leaves, and serve with white rice.

More: Indian-inspired coconut curry quinoa

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