Chicken Tikka Masala

Russ Crandall

4-6 servings


  • 1 tbsp tumeric
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground corriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp kashmiri red chili powder or 1 tsp cayenne
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inches ginger, grated
  • 1 c yogurt
  • 2 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 5 tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • salt
  • 1/2 c cilantro, chpped


  1. Combine the turmeric, garam masala, coriander, cumin, salt, and red chili powder to make a spice blend; divide the spice blend in half. Combine half of the spice blend with the garlic, ginger, yogurt, and chicken; mix together with your hands in a mixing bowl. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and marinate for at least 6 hours, overnight preferred.
  2. Warm the ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic; sauté until aromatic, another minute. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, cardamom pods, white pepper, and the other half of the spice blend. Stir to combine, then reduce heat to med/low and gently simmer until dark and thick, about 40 minutes.
  3. While the sauce is darkening, prepare your chicken. Skewer the chicken pieces (metal skewers preferred) and grill over direct high heat until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side, flipping once. Alternatively, you can broil them in the oven, about 6-8 minutes per side. You’ll want to time this step to finish near the end of cooking the sauce so that the chicken doesn’t get too cold as you finish the sauce.
  4. Once the sauce is dark, transfer it to a blender and blend until smooth. Return to the skillet (strain through a mesh strainer to catch the cardamom shells and tomato skins) and stir in the cream; return to a simmer and cook until slightly darkened, about 10 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.
  5. Stir in the cilantro and chicken pieces, and allow to simmer for another minute or two before serving.