Chicken Tikka Masala (Murgh Tikka Masala)

Chicken Tikka Masala is a very popular Indian dish and we're not the only country claiming it's origin. Pakistan believes that they invented it and Britain proclaims that it is their National dish. While they fight it out, let's learn how to make it.

While the ingredients are very similar to Butter Chicken(Murgh Makhani), there are some distinct differences. To me Tikka Masala is a more intense and robust sauce compared to Butter Chicken which is more mellow. Everywhere I've enjoyed this dish, it is served tossed with green peppers(capsicum) and onions.

1 lb boneless cubed chicken breast or thigh meat
Tandoori marinade – Find recipe on or use tandoori ready made spice blend, yogurt and salt.
1/2 green pepper, deseeded and cut in cubes
1/2 small onion quartered

For the gravy
1 medium red onion halved and chopped
5 cloves
1 inch stick cinnamon
2 green cardamoms seeds removed.
3 green chilies chopped
8 garlic cloves roughly chopped
1 inch piece fresh ginger roughly chopped
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
2 tsps garam masala powder
2 tsps tomato purée
1 large red tomato chopped(approx a cup)
1/4 cup chopped coriander (for garnish - optional)
2 tbsps heavy cream

Marinating the chicken

The chicken needs to be smothered in a tandoori marinade. You can either use the fantastic marinade recipe I posted earlier at OR use prepared Tandoori powder and yogurt. Try to keep the chicken marinated for a few hours but overnight is preferred. Skewer the chicken and half cook on a bbq (you can fry or use the oven as an option). I cook it till half done so it is seared but still has enough juices to contribute to the gravy. While the BBQ is on and hot also skewer the green peppers and onions and bbq them for a few minutes till slightly smoky and charred. Leave aside to cool.

In a saute pan add some oil and when hot add the onion, chillies, ginger and garlic. Add the whole spices. Saute till the onions are golden brown. Add sugar and continue to cook. Then add all the spice powders, followed by the tomato puree. Add the chopped tomatoes and mix. Cover and let the gravy cook for a few minutes. Add salt to taste. Reserving a few tablespoons in the pan, add the mixture to a blender and blend. Return to the pan and turn the heat on. I reserve a bit of the gravy because I like the silky softness of the gravy to have some texture, this is a personal preference.

When the gravy starts to bubble, it’s time to add the chicken and mix. Cover and cook for about 5 – 7 mins till the chicken is well done. If the gravy is to thick, add a little water. Add the green pepper and onion cubes and mix. Finish with the cream and garnish with chopped coriander.


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