This chicken tikka masala recipe is loaded with tender chicken marinated in a spicy Greek yogurt and charred on the grill before it simmers in a bath of spicy rich tomato sauce. Hands down the best curry I’ve ever made!
It has taken me years of practice to create a curry dish that tastes as good as, if not better than the local Indian restaurant.
Traditional Chicken Tikka Masala starts with a yogurt marinade full of spices and…….red food coloring! 🥴 I find this to be totally bazaar and unnecessary, but I was happy to learn that it wasn’t my lack of spices and most importantly no compromise to flavor if we just leave that out! (The chicken goes right into a bath of red tomato sauce anyway!)
I start this recipe by making a marinade with plain Greek yogurt, paprika and graham masala for the chicken. I use chicken thighs seasoned with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper before dredging them in the marinade.
The longer you marinade your chicken, the more tender it will be, however too long can result in mushy chicken, so I’d say between 1 – 8 hours in the marinade. 👍🏼
While the chicken marinades, I start my spicy tomato sauce by grinding fresh spices in a mortar and pestle before toasting them in my large dutch oven for a few minutes on low heat until fragrant.
Next, I add the butter. Butter is crucial to get that rich, succulent sauce.
Now, I chopped the onion, garlic and ginger. To save time I finish this process in the blender. Start by peeling and chopping the ginger into 1/4 inch or smaller pieces. If you throw the ginger in whole, the blender can chop it, however it will be stringy, and no one likes that. Then chop the onion in about 6-8 pieces and just throw the garlic in whole. Run the blender on low for about 1 minute until you have a nice even consistency.
Add this flavor bomb to the toasting spices and stir to combine. Cook the onions, garlic and ginger on medium heat for 5-10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
Now, add the can of crushed tomatoes, chicken stock and coconut milk, let this simmer for 30 minutes or so while you prepare the chicken.
Chill and Grill
While my spices and crushed tomatoes get to know each other, I turn on the Weber to medium heat and let it pre-heat while I skewer the chicken. Feel free to use whole chicken thighs and skip the skewers. Grill the chicken on each side, turning after each side gets a bit o’ char.
After you achieve your beautiful char on each side, transfer your hot chicken straight into the pot of goodness! Don’t worry if your chicken isn’t cooked all the way, it will finish cooking while it soaks in the delicious spices and amazing flavors this sauce has to offer.
Low and Slow….. something I am finally starting to learn, embrace and enjoy. This dish appreciates the extra time and low heat…I promise, it will be worth the wait! Traditionally, this dish cooks all day, like an Italian Grama’s Spaghetti sauce, the longer the better!
Serve with Basmati Rice and Naan Bread. Garnish with plain yogurt and cilantro. ☘️
❤️ More Chicken Recipes:
Chicken Tikka Masala
- Spice grinder or Mortar and Pestle
- 2 lbs bl/sl chicken thighs cut in quarters
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp fresh cracked pepper
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- ½ cup plain greek yogurt
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 3 ½ tsp garahm masala divided
- 2 tsp fennel seed fresh ground
- ½ tsp corriander seed fresg ground
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- ¼ cup butter
- 4 inch fresh ginger peeled and fine diced
- 1 cup yellow onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic fine diced
- 32 oz crushed tomato
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3 cups coconut milk
- Season chicken with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.
- In a large bowl whisk together yogurt, paprika and ½ tsp garam masala.
- Add chicken to yogurt mixture and mix thoroughly to combine, set aside.
- In a large pot over medium low heat toast remaining spices for 2 minutes, shaking the pot once or twice to avoid burning.
- Add butter, onion, ginger and garlic and continue to cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Add crushed tomatos and chicken stock. Let simmer for 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat grill over medium heat to 400°.
- Skewer chicken on metal skewers.
- Grill chicken for 7 minutes on each side.
- Add coconut milk to spicy tomato sauce.
- Remove chicken from skewers directly into the creamy tomato sauce.
- Let simmer for 30 minutes or longer.