Tonight's Dinner: Chicken tikka masala recipe

Jan 6, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. ET

Indian food is a delicious choice for dinner when you're in the mood for something exotic and spicy. But making it at home means it doesn't have to be burn-your-mouth-off-hot. Making it at home means you can make this chicken tikka masala recipe mild or spicy as you like.

Chicken tikka masala with naan

My parents have loved Indian food for as long as I can remember. Whenever we'd order in, my father would always pitch Indian and my mother and I would always shoot him down, mainly because it was always way too spicy for my immature palate. But a few years ago, I discovered that Indian food, whether you make it yourself or order it from a restaurant, didn't mean I needed to have a pitcher of water nearby. Most Indian restaurants these days offer a milder version of their delicacies for those (like myself) that are not big spice fans. Then I discovered an even better choice: If I made the same dish at home, I got to choose how much cinnamon or cayenne pepper to use, or if I even wanted to use any at all. It was a revelation. I could still have the same delicious Middle Eastern food, but enjoy it rather than pant my way through dinner to the point of hyperventilation.

One of my favorite dishes is chicken tikka masala. The combination of tomatoes, chicken, yogurt and spices over rice makes my heart melt. Add a nice piece of warm garlic or onion naan and you've absolutely made my night. While this chicken tikka masala recipe is slightly more time consuming than some, it's well worth the treat.

Chicken tikka masala recipe

Serves 6


  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 tablespoons Garam masala
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups basmati rice


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice, yogurt, salt, pepper, coriander, cumin and turmeric. Place chicken breasts in the yogurt mixture and marinate for at least one hour and up to four.
  2. Preheat oven to broil.
  3. Place chicken on baking sheet and cook under broiler for 12-15 minutes, making sure not to char the chicken too much. Remove chicken from oven and set aside.
  4. While the chicken broils, cook the rice according to package directions and set aside.
  5. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger and cook until onions begin to get tender, about three minutes. Add the Garam masala and cayenne (if you're using it). Stir in the tomatoes using a wooden spoon to scrape up any of the browned bits that may be on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the sugar and simmer on low for about five minutes. Stir in the cream and let simmer for another minute or two.
  6. While the sauce simmers, chop the chicken into 1-inch cubes and add to the sauce. Spoon the chicken tikka masala over the rice and serve with some nice warm naan.

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