Chicken Tikka Masala – My Take on a Classic

Y’all! I LOVE me some Indian food, but since moving to Kentucky, there are not as many places to find it as there were in Tampa, Fla. So, I went on a mission to recreate one of my favorite dishes, and modified it to my tastes.

In other words, this may not be the 100% authentic recipe you will find on other sites, but it hit the exact spot I had a craving for.

Though I confess it does take a while to make this recipe, I was so happy with how it turned out. And, my husband and I have added it to our meal plan rotation! Best part is you could easily double it to have plenty of leftovers!

Active time: About an hour

Total time: About 90 mins

Servings: 4-6 depending on portion sizes

Ingredients Chicken Tikka Masala (Modified)

For the Chicken Coating:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (I totally used a bottle of concentrate, but you could juice 1 lime and get about 1 tablespoon)
  • Generous 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (Note: the more you add, the spicier this dish will be!)
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika (I used smoked paprika, but many Indian recipes call for sweet paprika)
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala (spice blend)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt or full-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (I used the minced garlic stir-in paste, but you could use about 3 cloves and mince it yourself)
  • 1 tablespoon of stir-in ginger paste or you could use one 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, minced

For the Tikka Masala Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 8-ounce cans of plain tomato sauce (Make sure you don’t make the mistake of grabbing the one with oregano and basil like I’ve accidentally done in the past!)
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (Again, if you add more it WILL kick up the heat level!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (spice blend)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Additional Ingredients Needed:

  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 tsp approximately of garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala (Modified)

Step 1

In a 2 qt saucepan, start melting your butter on medium heat, but don’t brown it! Then, add your tomato sauce, and give it a stir. Then, add your other sauce ingredients, stir, and when it begins bubbling, add a lid and turn your stove down to simmer so it can cook while your chicken is velveting and then baking.

You’ll need to stir it roughly every 15 minutes just to make sure the sauce isn’t burning.

Step 2

For the chicken: Using thawed chicken breasts, velvet the chicken with your baking soda

To velvet the chicken you will sprinkle the baking soda all over it and rub it in. Then, let it sit a full 20 minutes.

Pro tip: Set a timer because you don’t want this to sit longer than 20 minutes as the chicken will become mush!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees while you are velveting the chicken.

Step 3

Wash the chicken and then pat dry with paper towels. Then place the breasts in a greased 9X13 pyrex or equivalent glass baking dish.

Step 4

Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika onto both sides of the chicken. I eyeballed this, but it ended up being about 1 tsp of each spice across the chicken.

Step 5

Place the chicken in the oven for 12 mins, and get to work on your sauce. In a bowl, combine the lime juice, cayenne pepper, paprika, garam masala, salt, yogurt/sour cream, garlic and ginger in a mixing bowl until evenly mixed.

Step 6

Pull out the chicken, spoon on half of the chicken coating to the top of your chicken, then flip it over, and spoon the other half on and rub it all over the top

Step 7 

Place it back in the over for another 10-15 mins or until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees

Step 8

When your chicken is cooked through, cut it into 1 inch cubes and place the cubes back in the pan.

Step 9

Pour your Tikka Masala sauce onto the chicken and give everything a good stir to ensure all those yummy bits of your chicken coating are fully incorporated throughout.

Step 10

Serve with Basmati rice and Naan. I like to pour some of the sauce into the rice and chicken so I can dip the Naan into it. Damn tasty!

To give the sauce a little heat, you can add more cayenne pepper, red chili powder, or Kashmiri chili sauce. We felt the flavor was just fine without extra heat, but we did add salt and pepper to taste.