Chicken Tikka Masala has become one of our latest dinner obsessions. I’ve made this recipe so many times for us and for company, and it is always amazing. We love the bright orange spicy smooth sauce, perfectly spiced chicken, and bright flecks of cilantro. The recipe easily doubles for a crowd, and reheats really well for the best desk lunch ever.
Chicken Tikka MasalaAdapted slightly from Cooks Illustrated
Serves 4 to 6 I like to serve this with basmati or jasmine rice and a simple cucumber salad made with finely sliced red onion and Serrano chile. Naan is also delicious instead of rice. The sauce can be made up to four days in advance and stored in an airtight container; gently re-heat and add chicken for a quick weeknight meal. For the chicken, I think smaller breasts taste much better, and take less time to cook. I’m partial to Bell and Evans. Feel free to adjust the heat and spice level by adding more Serrano chile or adding some additional garam masala
Chicken Tikka1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (see note above)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Masala Sauce3 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 ¼ cups) 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons) 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger 1 fresh Serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note above) 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1 tablespoon garam masala* 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes 2 teaspoons sugar 1/2 teaspoon table salt 2/3 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
For the chicken, combine spices and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently to adhere. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.
For the sauce, heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Cover pan and turn keep over very low heat, just to keep warm.
While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.
Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks. Turn heat off on sauce and remove from stove. Stir chicken into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.
* Garam masala substitute – Mix 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.