Chicken Tikka Masala is one of the most popular Indian curries for takeout. This classic aromatic curry is one of those first dishes that one would try while exploring Indian cuisine. While some people might think that it’s one of those dishes that need a lot of effort and time, I am here to tell you that it’s not. Making Chicken Tikka Masala is actually easy and fuss free cooking.
What is Chicken Tikka Masala?
There is something about the richness and aroma of the Chicken tikka masala with those tender boneless grilled chicken that makes it a favorite. With naan or rice, it’s a meal that everyone remembers and craves for more.
In simple terms, Chicken Tikka Masala is Chicken Tikka (grilled boneless chicken bites) cooked in Masala (tomato sauce). It needs two main components:
- Tender juicy grilled chicken bites
- Creamy aromatic tomato based gravy
How to make BEST Chicken Tikka Masala ?
I can quite proudly say that is the best Chicken Tikka Masala recipe, and you must try.
- Marinate the chicken pieces for at least 4 hrs or overnight for best result
- Grill the chicken in high heat, so you get the smoky char on the chicken pieces
- The sauce that goes is in called the makhni sauce. It is easy but takes about 20 minutes to simmer and get flavorful. So don't rush with the sauce, give it time!
Should you go for boneless or with bone chicken pieces?
Chicken Tikka Masala calls for boneless chicken. And my recommendation would be to go for boneless chicken thigh. As compared to chicken breast, Chicken thigh has fats which keep the meat juicy. You definitely need to be careful to not overcook the chicken pieces.
Chicken Tikka Masala calls for Grilled Bite Size Chicken?
Grilling will add flavor, but if you don't have a grill, just use a cast iron pan and cook the chicken pieces on high heat to get the brown char on it. Don't overcook.
MAKHNI SAUCE -- THE AROMATIC TOMATO SAUCE
The sauce is very easy to prepare and is a freezer friendly sauce. You can prepare it in a big batch and save it for months in the freezer. The list of ingredients that goes in the sauce may look really long, but the overall process is quite easy. Once you have the sauce ready, preparing Chicken Tikka Masala is really quick.
You can refer to this link for the detailed recipe, and here is a video to show you the entire process.
HOW TO MAKE TENDER GRILLED CHICKEN?
The key ingredient is the yogurt that goes in the marinade. Yogurt softens the meat, adds the tangy flavor and keeps the meat juicy as it grills on a hot flame. Letting the chicken marinate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, will act as brine and lock the moisture.
In other words, it will enhance the flavor in a big way. When you cook the chicken pieces, keep in mind that you should not cook it for too long because that’s what ruins the taste and make the texture very chewy.
Once you have the sauce and the grilled chicken ready, putting it all together takes less than 10 minutes. As the dish cooks, the aroma fills up the entire kitchen and I am assuring you, everybody will go for second servings.
A VEGETARIAN ALTERNATIVE TO THIS DISH
Try grilled paneer (a very obvious choice), grilled tofu, grilled cauliflower or mixed grilled veggies (zucchini, onion, cauliflower, broccoli). The choices are really endless if you have the sauce ready.
I am quite choosy when it comes to cooking boneless chicken curry. It’s not my favorite type of meat because it’s so easy to overcook the chicken pieces.
So, when it comes to curry, I always go for chicken pieces with bones. But this dish is an exception, and I take extreme precaution to ensure I don’t overcook it. I have prepared this dish several times in the past, with chicken and with paneer. Everybody has loved it and I have passed these recipes to many of my friends. I think it’s time to finally jot it down out here, too.
Chicken Tikka Masala
- 1 lb boneless chicken breast (diced in equal big chunks)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon grated garlic
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons oil
- ½ cup sliced red onion
- 1 cup makhni masala (Here is the link)
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup heavy cream (optional)
- In a mixing bowl, add the yogurt with all the spices (ground cumin seeds, ground coriander seeds, ground fennel seeds, dried fenugreek leaves, chili powder, salt, sugar, grated ginger, and grated garlic). Mix everything and then drop the chicken bites into the same bowl. Give it a mix to coat the chicken pieces evenly. Cover the bowl and keep it in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight for best result.
- Prepare the makhni sauce and keep it ready.
- To prepare the chicken tikka masala, start by grilling the chicken. You could use a charcoal grill for the best smoky flavor, or just grill it indoor using a grill pan on a stovetop.
- Place the grill pan on medium high heat and brush a little oil on the pan. When the pan heats up, layer the chicken pieces. Do not move it around, and let it sizzle for 4 minutes. Then, turn the chicken pieces and let it sizzle for 3 more minutes.
- The chicken pieces should be cooked through by now. These chicken pieces can also be served as tikka with your choice of dipping sauce.
- To prepare the curry, place a heavy bottom pan on medium heat and drizzle 1 teaspoon of oil. When the oil heats up, drop the sliced onion and cook for 2 minutes, or until the onions are softened.
- Pour the makhni sauce and water, stir and cook for a minute. Then, drop the grilled chicken and cook for 2 minutes.
- Finally, add the heavy cream, which is optional, but it enhances the creaminess of the curry. Cook for 1 more minute.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve warm with your choice of Indian bread or rice.