In a game of word association, nothing quite matches Flavor-Filled Deliciousness like a power packed Chicken Tikka Masala over White Rice. This dish builds flavor in layers into a deep yet bright punch of one of my favorite curry dishes.
It’s been a process, but I’ve slowly been introducing curry dishes into my family’s meal plans. It really began when my wife fell in love with the yellow-curry yogurt dip on a date night to a local fondue join. We then moved onto Curry Chicken Broccoli Casserole and 30-minute Chicken Tikka Wraps. But this Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is the creme-de-la-creme of this power packed family of flavor.
Before you make this, it’s good to know your audience. Tikka Masala isn’t spicy at all, but this may be one of the most flavorful bites that a home chef can pull off. It all starts with a spice blend that will pull a little bit of everything out of your spice rack. Give the chicken a little time to marry with the flavors, toast it well and your off. Finish it by stewing the cooked chicken in a diced tomato sauce that spreads the flavor. Serve it over white rice to allow your excess sauce a vehicle for your enjoyment.
Chicken Tikka Masala Tips and Tricks
- Most of the spices you need for this should be available at decent grocers. Publix carried most of these, but I still took a special trip to the an Indian grocer for the turmeric and garam masala. Those are two must-haves for this dish. If you don’t have a store nearby, search on Amazon for these spices as they’re absolutely required.
- Most Chicken Tikka Masala recipes call for chicken breast. Not here. I prefer chicken thighs for this, preferably after an overnight simple salt and sugar brine. This delivers the most tender bite to go along with your flavor punch.
- For the best result, begin that brine I mentioned above the night before. The next morning, pull the chicken out and pat it dry with a paper towel. Rub with spices and seal in a ziploc or vacuum bag and refrigerate until it’s time to cook.
Let’s Make Chicken Tikka Masala
Like most chicken dishes, the absolute best Chicken Tikka Masa begins the night before with a good brine. Soak your boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a very salty water with a touch of sugar mixed in. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. If you skip this step, you’ll still have a pretty good end product, but this really does make a big difference.
The following morning, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. In a large mixing bowl , mix together salt, garam masala, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, turmeric, black pepper and cardamom. If you want a hint of spice, add cayenne. I went without it to make it wife and kid friendly (those wussies). Once the spice is mixed, add in your chicken and mix up until your chicken is fully coated. Transfer to a ziplock or vacuum bag (or simply cover the bowl tightly if you don’t have those and return to the fridge until it’s time to cook.
Just before cooking slice one medium yellow onion and set aside.
To start your Chicken Tikka Masala, Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add about two tablespoons worth of ghee (aka clarified butter). Most grocery stores will carry Ghee. If not, look for it from an oriental grocer. Cook your chicken thighs through on both sides until the spices are well toasted and the chicken develops a light char. That crust of spices is a must to deliver the flavor your want in your finish product. Once your chicken is cooked, remove to a plate and set aside.
In same pan, add another tablespoon of ghee and heat. Add your sliced onions and move around the pan with your spatula. The acid will help to free up any spices left in the plan. Next, stir in 3 tablespoons of tomato paste.
At this point, you’re going to want to start your white rice according to it’s instructions. If you have a rice cooker or Instant Pot , I recommend using those so you don’t have to pay much attention to it. Pro tip: Cook the rice in chicken stock instead of boring old water for more flavor.
In your saute pan , add in one large (32 oz) can of diced tomatoes. Crushed tomatoes are always fine to cook with when making sauces, as they’re canned at perfect ripeness and therefor are at peak flavor. Make sure to just get plain diced tomatoes, not anything that’s been spiced (like Italian or Green Chili style). Those would work contrary to the flavor profile we’re building. The juice from the diced tomatoes will continue to deglaze the pan and wake up those spices for our Chicken Tikka Masala. Add in your grated ginger and garlic and stir together.
Reduce your heat to medium low and simmer for about 15 minutes to break down the diced tomatoes. About 10 minutes into your simmer, chop your chicken thighs on a cutting board. Standard recipes call for this to be in large chunks where you’re getting about one piece per bite. I prefer them a little smaller, in the 2-3 per bite range. This is especially helpful when you’re feeding a three-year-old, like I am. Once your tomato mixture has had about 15 minutes to cook, stir in your chopped chicken along with any pan drippings that have accumulated while the chicken was resting. Lastly, stir in a cup of half-and-half and about 3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro. Continue to simmer on medium low for another 10-15 minutes, until it’s reached your desired thickness.
Serve immediately spooned over white rice. I used a little extra ghee to toast some fresh pita chips using naan bread and zaatar as an accompaniment.
Chicken is slowly stewed in a super tomato tomato curry sauce, served over white rice. It’s the national dish of Great Britain for a reason, come see why!
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 ground cardamom
- 3 tbsp ghee
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 garlic cloves (grated)
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger (grated)
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 2 tbsp cilantro
- 2 cups c
- In a large mixing bowl , mix together salt, garam masala, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, turmeric, black pepper and cardamom. If you want a hint of spice, add cayenne. Once the spice is mixed, add in your chicken and mix by hand until chicken is fully coated Transfer to a ziplock bag for at least an hour and up to overnight.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add 2 Tbsp ghee and allow 30 seconds to heat. Place chicken thighs fat side down and cook for 4-5 minutes, until they get a nice golden brown. Flip and cook opposite side. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- In same pan, add another tablespoon of ghee and heat for 30 second. Add your sliced onions and stir to help scrape up brown bits from bottom of the pan.
- Next, pour in in one large (32 oz) can of diced tomatoes. Continue to scrape brown bits from bottom of pan while stirring in. Now, add in your grated ginger and garlic and stir together.
- Reduce your heat to medium low and simmer for about 15 minutes to break down the diced tomatoes. About 10 minutes into your simmer, chop your chicken thighs on a cutting board into 1/2 inch pieces. Once your tomato mixture has had about 15 minutes to cook, stir in your chopped chicken along with any pan drippings that have accumulated while the chicken was resting.
- Lastly, stir in a cup of half-and-half and about 3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro. Continue to simmer on medium low for another 10-15 minutes, until it’s reached your desired thickness. Serve immediately spooned over white cooked rice.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stewed
- Cuisine: British, Indian, Curry
Keywords: Chicken Curry, British Food, Tikka Masala