Cast Iron

Chicken Meatball Tikka Masala

August  9, 2010
4 Ratings
Author Notes

I invented this as a meatier, heartier version of a vegetarian recipe I love: my chana bateta. The meatballs and their sauce get flavored with garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, and cayenne (pictured above). You make the dish by first baked spiced chicken meatballs, then smothering them in a smooth, creamy masala sauce. I bet your could try eating them in an Indian meatball hero with saag, but I've always served them simply with long-grain white rice. (If you're not into spice, you'll probably want to omit the serrano, or at least remove its seeds.) - SmallKitchCara —Cara Eisenpress

Test Kitchen Notes

The sauce is delicious and the meatballs are very flavorful—my husband couldn’t stop eating them! Note: I added the serrano chile with the shallots, garlic and ginger. - Cecilia —The Editors

  • Serves 4
  • For the meatballs
  • 1 pound ground chicken thigh meat
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
  • 3/4 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the masala sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or other neutral oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup canned tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 serrano chile, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs. Form into small golf-sized balls (you should get 24-26), and arrange them about 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Peak inside and make sure they’re no longer pink before eating.
  4. Make the sauce: Combine the diced tomatoes and tomato paste in a mini food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
  5. Heat the oil over high heat in a large cast iron pan until smoking. Add the mustard seeds and cover immediately, and wait til they stop popping (15 seconds). Turn the heat to medium-low and add the shallots, garlic, and ginger. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring nearly constantly, until the shallots are quite golden. Add the cumin, coriander, and cayenne, and cook for another minute or so, to toast the spices. Pour in the pureed tomato, and cook down for 3-4 minutes. It should be reduced to an almost paste-like consistency.
  6. Pour in the coconut milk, the salt and sugar, and about 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil.
  7. Simmer covered for 5-10 minutes, to let the flavors meld. Taste for salt and spiciness.
  8. Add the meatballs and the cilantro to the sauce. Toss well, heat the meatballs through, and serve.
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I'm the founder, editor, and head chef at the blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen (, a site dedicated to easy-to-execute recipes and stories from a quarter-life kitchen. I'm also the author of In the Small Kitchen published in 2011.