Chicken Tikka Masala is an Indian dish that contains chunks of roasted, marinated chicken in a curry sauce. The origins of the dish is believed to be from Punjab.
Thank you to Julie Sahni for the recipe.
For the chicken
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3 to 4 breast halves total)
- 1/4 cup plain whole-milk Greek-style yogurt
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime or lemon juice
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger (from 1-inch piece)
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups canned tomato purée (see Cook’s Notes for a fresh-tomato alternative)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus additional sprigs for garnish
- Naan (Indian flatbread) and/or cooked Basmati rice
Equipment: Meat mallet or rolling pin, microplane
Marinate the chicken
- Use a fork to prick the chicken breasts all over on both sides. Arrange the chicken breasts on a large sheet of plastic wrap, spacing them apart from one another, then cover with a second large sheet of plastic wrap. Using the smooth side of a meat mallet or a rolling pin, beat the chicken until the breasts are an even 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 tablespoon peanut oil, lime juice, and garlic. Add the pounded chicken, and rub the marinade over the meat. Set the chicken aside while you make the sauce.
Make the sauce
- In a small bowl, whisk together the coriander, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, paprika, cayenne, and grated ginger. In a heavy, wide 4-quart pot or sauté pan over moderately high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until light brown and caramelized, about 5 minutes. (Note that because they are sautéed so quickly over moderately high heat, the onions will not caramelize evenly).
- Reduce the heat to moderate then stir in the spice and ginger mixture. Add the tomato purée, water, heavy cream, and salt, and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to gently simmer the sauce, uncovered, until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
While sauce is simmering, cook chicken
- Heat a heavy 11- to 12-inch griddle or skillet over moderately high heat until very hot and add 1/2 tablespoon of peanut oil. Working in two batches, cook the chicken breasts, turning them a few times and lowering the heat if the chicken chars too quickly, until just cooked through and browned well on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer the chicken as cooked to a cutting board. Wipe the griddle or skillet clean with a paper towel and cook the remaining chicken, adding the remaining 1/2 tablespoon peanut oil between batches.
- When all the chicken is cooked, cut it into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Add the chicken to the simmering sauce and continue to gently simmer it, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the black pepper and chopped cilantro, and season with salt.
Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and garnish with additional cilantro sprigs. Serve with naan, and/or if desired with Basmati rice.
If you prefer to make the sauce with fresh tomatoes, chop 1 pound fresh tomatoes and purée them, including the skins and seeds, in a blender with 1 tablespoon tomato paste and 3/4 teaspoon sugar. When using fresh tomatoes, omit the 3/4 cup water from the recipe.
If you are really short on time, substitute the meat from a rotisserie chicken. The sauce can be prepared ahead and refrigerated, in an airtight container, up to 3 days.