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Chicken Tikka Masala

There are few things in this world that I actually crave:

Chocolate - obviously.

Pretzels - all kinds. all. the. time.

Diet Coke - can't stop, won't stop.

Chicken Tikka Masala - all the heart eyes.

Chicken Tikka Masala might just be the perfect bowl of food. That creamy and spicy tomato sauce...those chunks of juicy chicken...that jasmine rice...the naan! Mmmm. It always smells so good and tastes incredible.

I've had this dish from the west coast to the east coast to all the way over in Europe and I have to say, the folks at Taste of India in Spokane, Washington just make it better than the rest. When I lived in Spokane, I ordered it at least once a month. Their number was most definitely programmed in my phone. ;)

Since moving back to Portland, I have yet to find a better Indian restaurant. And right now, as the pandemic rages on (WEAR A MASK!!!), I have yet to find Indian takeout in my immediate area. So, I decided to make some.

While my version doesn't come close to my favorite restaurant's, it's pretty dang good. Actually, it's better than pretty dang good - it's pretty dang delicious! And! Bonus! The whole thing can be done in under two hours - including an hour of marinating time. So really, you're only cooking for like, 45 minutes. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

I'd say the spice level on this is a 2.5-3 on a scale of 1-5. If you don't want it that hot, remove seeds from serrano. If you want it spicier, add another serrano.



Chicken Tikka Masala

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Servings: 6-8


Chicken + Marinade:

2lbs chicken breast, chopped into bit size pieces

1 cup 2% fat plain Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated

2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp salt

Chicken Tikka Masala:

2 Tbsp canola oil

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 sweet onion, minced

1 serrano pepper with seeds, minced

2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated,

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp cumin

1-28 ounce can pureed tomatoes

1 - 1.5 cups water

1 cup coconut cream

1-2 tsp salt

1-2 tsp black pepper

For serving:

cilantro (garnish)

Jasmine rice

Naan - I just buy mine at the store!


  1. Let's make the marinade! In mixing bowl, whisk together yogurt, fresh ginger, garam masala, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, lemon juice, garlic and salt. It will be thick!

  2. Chop up chicken into bite size pieces. Place chicken in a large bowl and add marinade and stir to combine thoroughly. All the chicken needs to be coated! Cover and place in fridge for an hour.

  3. When you're ready to cook, head a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add canola oil. When it shimmers, add chicken with marinade. Saute until chicken is almost cooked through, about 4-5 minutes.

  4. Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken from pot and set aside on a plate for now. Make sure to leave whatever is left of the marinade in the pan.

  5. Add butter. When it has melted, add minced onion, serrano pepper and grated ginger. When I make this, I blend the onion and serrano pepper together in a food processor so that it's completely smooth.

  6. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring to incorporate everything in the pot and scrape up any brown bits from the chicken.

  7. Add garam masala, turmeric, coriander and cumin. Stir to combine. Add tomato puree and 1 cup of water. If sauce seems to thick to bring to a boil, add additional 1/4 cup water...and then another 1/4 cup if you feel it needs it. Season with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Stir to combine everything thoroughly.

  8. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Allow the sauce to simmer for about 25 minutes. Taste it. If it needs more salt and pepper, add to your liking.

  9. While the sauce is simmering, cook rice per the instructions on the packaging. When done cooking, set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.

  10. Add chicken to the sauce, stir to combine and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

  11. Add coconut cream and stir to combine thoroughly. Simmer for another 5 minutes and then remove from heat.

  12. To serve, place Chicken Tikka Masala in a bowl with rice and garnish with cilantro. Serve with naan!

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