May 12, 2022

Chicken Tikka Masala - Putting My Newly Purchased Garam Masala to Good Use

I've been eyeing on a nice jar of garam masala spice mix for quite some time. Note that the price tags associate with garam masala can vary in very wide range, but it's never too cheap. That's the only reason preventing me from getting the spice. 

Until one day, I need to spend enough money in order to exchange for free parking at the grocery store, but there's nothing else I need at the moment. "Let's do this," I thought. Since I get free parking in return, I guess a little splurge on spices doesn't sound too bad once a long while?

Chicken tikka masala - 

Chicken tikka masala with basmati cilantro rice


Chicken and marinade:

  • 4 pieces skinless chicken breast
  • 130 grams Greek yogurt
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and chopped ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder (or half cayenne pepper plus half smoked paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 small chunk ginger
  • 340 grams tomato sauce
  • 200 grams heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder (or half cayenne pepper plus half smoked paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Some chopped cilantro



Let's start with the marinade ingredients. Peel and chop 4 to 5 garlic cloves. Peel and finely chop a small chunk of ginger, need about 1 tablespoonful in the end. Mix these ingredients together will all other items listed under the "chicken and marinade" section in a bag or a container.

Chicken tikka masala marinade

Massage the marinade into the chicken breasts and make sure all sides are fully covered. Seal with a lid or cling foil then transfer to the fridge. Let it marinate for at least 2 hours, overnight even better.

Peel and chop the onion. Peel and grate 3 garlic cloves. Peel and grate a small chunk of ginger, need about 1 tablespoonful in the end. Chop the cilantro. 

Prepare a big pot and drizzle in 2 tablespoons of oil. Turn to medium high heat and wait till the oil starts to warm up. Transfer the marinated chicken over piece by piece. It's ok if there're some marinade on the chicken, it might further darken the meat, but not an issue.

Searing chicken breasts for chicken tikka masala

Sear the chicken till slightly colored on one side. Don't move around the meat too early since it might stick to the bottom of the pot early on. Only flip the chicken when the bottom seems ready and slightly browned, then continue to sear the other side till colored. Once ready, take out the chicken and let them rest. We will finish cooking the chicken shortly after.

Still using the same pot and the same medium high heat, add in 2 tablespoons of butter. Once melted, add in diced onion and cook till softened. Try to scrape out the brown bits sticking to the bottom of the pot, these are quite flavorful elements. Onion takes about couple minutes to cook.

Cooking diced onion for chicken tikka masala

Add grated garlic and grated ginger. Mix and continue to cook for another minute.

Add 1 teaspoon of garam masala, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, and 1 teaspoon of ground coriander. Mix till combined.

Mixing onion and spices for chicken tikka masala

Pour in tomato sauce along with 1 teaspoon of Kashmiri chili powder. If you can't get a hold of Kashmiri chili powder, substitute with half cayenne pepper plus half smoked paprika. Also add 1 teaspoon of salt. Blend and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Remember to stir the entire mixture once a while.

Adding tomato sauce for chicken tikka masala

After 10 minutes, pour in 200 grams of heavy whipping cream and 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar. Mix till combined. Transfer chicken back along with any residual juice. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Remember to flip the meat half way through.

Adding chicken breasts for tikka masala

I actually use a bigger jar of tomato juice for this recipe, but only poured out 340 grams for the tikka masala. That way, if towards the end the food appears too dry, I will have more tomato sauce to use to dilute the mixture, instead of using plain water.

So if tikka masala looks too dry to you, add a little bit more tomato sauce or water if needed. Taste and see if more salt or brown sugar are needed for your preference.

Chicken tikka masala with basmati cilantro rice

I served it with some basmati rice mixed with fresh chopped cilantro. You can also garnish with even more chopped cilantro on top, not just for the visual effect, but it'll also provide a pop of refreshing aroma to the tikka masala.

Chicken tikka masala with basmati cilantro rice

The result has proven that my recent investment in that fancy jar of garam masala has paid off. I'm also loving that exotic smell in the kitchen. By the way, even though I'm using chicken breast, but the meat was actually so moist inside. It's like enjoying chicken juice on top of the tikka masala sauce, both of them all over the aromatic basmati cilantro rice, super yummy. 

Other recipes using chicken breast:

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