The most popular classic chicken tikka masala from my kitchen – it’s the best tikka masala you will ever come across and will let you forget the take-out option!
I was always under the impression that I had already shared my chicken tikka masala recipe in my blog. It only came to my notice when one day I was trying to search for it and I realized that I was wrong! This is such a shame! The chicken tikka masala is such a popular Indian recipe that no Indian restaurants’ menu is complete without it, be it in India or abroad. And here I am – cozily relaxing on my couch completely unaware of what my blog is missing which it mustn’t!
I had to rectify my mistake – A.S.A.P! So today I have brought my mind-blowing recipe of classic chicken tikka masala which will simply knock you out at the very first bite! As weekend is already here, you can cook and relish this delicious dish with your friends and family and enjoy a quality time with good food and good company.
As many TV shows and cookery book suggests, chicken tikka masala is an Indian preparation which did not take birth in India. It is the British who brought this celebrated dish into existence when they had a huge leftover of their favorite chicken tikkas. They tried to make a somewhat Indian gravy with a base of typical Indian aromatics like onion, ginger, garlic and tomatoes and simmered the tikkas into it which turn out to be a deadly combination as the smokiness of the tikkas added some extra edge to the gravy while combined with the common Indian spices like turmeric, coriander and red chilli powder.
Chicken tikka masala is a strong evidence proving that left overs are not to be left alone and unimaginably good things can be created out of them if treated with proper love and care.
My thumb rule to make this chicken tikka masala a rock star is to use chicken thighs and NOT chicken breast. Skin-on chicken thighs would be the best option, but if you are worried about the calories the skin add to the chicken, then opt for the skinless thighs which I also did and still it tasted like killer. There is a third option too. You can make the chicken tikkas using skin-on chicken thighs and before adding the tikkas to the masala, remove the skin. This way the chicken thighs will retain its softness and juiciness due to the skin fat but you will not add to your calories without sacrificing any bit of flavor. Sounds like perfect win-win situation, isn’t it?
If you are wondering why I am not suggesting to use chicken breasts, here is the reason – chicken breast is the leanest portion of the bird i.e it does not contain any fat which makes the meat turn tough and dry when exposed to high temperature inside the grill. Achieving the correct cooking time of chicken breast is very tricky as it highly depends on the thickness and size of the portion and minutes delay can lead to almost inedible chicken tikkas which obviously no one would want. So your best friend is chicken thighs for any grilling or kebab recipes with boneless chicken cubes. Trust me, this would be the life-changing tips for you for making the restaurant-like kebabs at home!
The season is also ideal for some smoky chicken tikkas and hot tandoori rotis from the grill to whip up the last drop of that incredibly delish masala. Wondering what to do as you are not fond of chicken? Please head over to my paneer tikka masala and have fun! Yes, you can thank me later!
- Chicken thighs – 6 to 8, boneless and skinless
- Yogurt – ⅓ cup
- Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
- Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
- Garam masala – 2 tbsp
- Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
- Coriander powder – 2 tsp
- Pinch of turmeric powder
- Mustard oil – 3 tbsp
- Salt – 1 tsp or more depending on your taste
- Green cardamom – 5
- Cloves – 5
- Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece
- Whole black peppercorn – 4
- Dry red chilli – 1 or 2
- Oil – 4 tbsp
- Onion – 1, large
- Ginger – 1 inch piece
- Garlic – 6 to 8 cloves
- Fresh ripe tomatoes – 4, large (or 1 cup of store bought tomato puree)
- Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
- Coriander powder – 1 tsp
- Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
- Garam masala – 1 tsp
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Water – as required
- Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
- Salt to taste
- Wash and pat dry the chicken thighs. Sprinkle some salt and give a quick toss.
- Mix all ingredients for marinade and make a homogeneous mixture. Rub this mixture thoroughly on each chicken pieces. Use all the marinade to keep the chicken pieces coated with the yogurt mixture. Marinade the chicken for at least 2 hours or overnight for best result.
- Preheat your oven to 200 C / 400 F and place the wire rack at top level.
- Arrange the marinated chicken pieces in a single layer on a roasting tray. Do not add excess marinade as it would lead to steaming of chicken instead of roasting and you won’t get the charring effect.
- Broil the chicken for 20 minutes. Turn them over and baste with some more marinade. Broil them for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- While the chicken is broiling, prepare the sauce. Make a paste of onion, ginger and garlic.
- Heat oil in a skillet/wok. When the oil is hot, temper it with green cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorn and dry red chilli.
- When the whole spices are fragrant, add the onion-ginger-garlic paste. Sauté them until golden brown.
- While the onion mixture is sautéing, prepare the tomato puree following the instructions here. You can skip the cooking of tomatoes mentioned there as you will use it straight away.
- Once the onion has turned golden brown, add the tomato puree, sugar and salt. Sauté on medium flame till the water evaporates.
- Add all the powdered spices with a splash of water. Sauté on high flame till the oil starts to separate.
- Add half a cup of water and bring to boil. Cover and cook the gravy on low flame for 15 mins for all flavors to marry together.
- When the gravy is cooking, cut the grilled chicken tikkas into 1 inch pieces.
- After 15 minutes, add the chicken pieces to the gravy and bring to boil. Then cover and cook again on low flame for 10 more minutes. This cooking time is necessary for all the flavors to come together nicely.
- Check the consistency of the gravy and boil off any excess water. Remove from heat, sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with naan or plain white Basmati rice!