Chicken Tikka Masala

April  7, 2021
0 Ratings
Photo by Brian Coppola
  • Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • serves 6
Author Notes

Let me tell you: there are a lot of versions of this dish out there. I was inspired by parts of many of them and still took it in a different direction. My true heresy here is that I went with standard, powdered spices instead of mincing garlic and ginger, and crushing cardamom pods. Knock yourself out. My amounts of spices are estimates and probably underestimates. Spice food to your preference, but this dish really benefits from its spices, so do not skimp. I did go with the pan-fried version of pre-cubed and marinated chicken (every other combination is out there). There are two cooking stages, so the times are a little fungible, too. What I can tell you is that this recipe gives you a restaurant quality meal that reheats like a champ.

Obviously, a regular rice is fine. This is my low carb version (which really only shows up in the rice). I am sure serving this with some hearty naan would be great, too.
Brian Coppola

What You'll Need
  • 3-3.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 small sweet onions, small chop
  • 28 ounces San Marzono DOP whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 ounces low sodium tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons garlic powder (or minced garlic)
  • 4 tablespoons ginger powder (or minced ginger)
  • 4 tablespoons turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons chicken masala
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons cardamom powder (or crushed pods)
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 6 teaspoons butter
  • 14 ounces (2 packages) Banza chickpea Rice
  1. Cut the chicken breasts into 2+ inch cubes; reserve in a bowl.
  2. Combine half of the 7 spices in a large zip-lock bag. Add in the yogurt and lemon juice and mix thoroughly with the spices; add chicken and coat completely (I double bag my bag just to be safe; turmeric on your countertop can be there for months! In general, work on a wooden or plastic board. Marinate for 4-6 hours in the refrigerator (or overnight).
  3. Chop the onions (larger than a dice, about ½ inch cubes). Put the can of tomatoes in a food processor and blend (or mash by hand, depending on what you like).
  4. Heat a small layer of oil just above medium, in the pan that you will simmer the meal in (I use my Cephalon Dutch Oven). When the oil is hot, use tongs to place a layer of chicken on the bottom of the pan. With 3-3.5 pounds of chicken, this is about ¼ of what is in the bag. Cook the chicken in the oil for about 10 minutes, flipping them a total of 3 times, about every 2-3 minutes. Usually about half-way through, I need to take a flat wooden spatula and scrap the fried yogurt mixture from the bottom that has started to accumulate. Add additional oil as needed. Reserve the fried chicken pieces in a bowl.
  5. I do not clean out the pan. The bottom is filled with delightful bits and the oil is infused with spices. Add the onions to the hot oil and lightly brown them as they separate into flakes from their cubes. When they are nicely caramelized, add the butter (mix), then the tomato paste (mix), then the other half of the spices. Heat for a couple of minutes to darken the mixture.
  6. Add the crushed tomatoes, cardamom, and red pepper flakes. Stir well. After a minute, add the heavy cream and blend completely.
  7. Add in the chicken. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. I think at this point you could simmer it for as long as you want. What is shocking is how mature this sauce tastes, even when it is only 30 minutes old.
  8. I cook a batch of Banza chickpea rice by heating 2 cartons of salt-free chicken broth in a large saucepan until it starts to boil. Then lower the heat to medium-low and add the Banza. Stir regularly. It only takes 4-5 minutes for this stuff to cook. Strain. Dish. Top with the chicken and sauce, and a dusting of cilantro.

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