Monday, October 13, 2014

Chicken Tikka Masala – God Save the Curry

I probably get more requests for Indian food than any other ethnic cuisine, so I was very excited to be posting this chicken tikka masala; until I found out it’s actually a British recipe. It was the same feeling I had when I found out that pizza wasn’t invented in New York. 

So technically, I still owe you an authentic Indian recipe, but in the meantime I think this will do nicely. While this is a stripped-down version, where we’ve cut out several time-consuming steps, it was still incredibly delicious, and very Indian curry-like. 

As I mention in the video, this is usually done with heavy cream, but I like to use coconut milk instead. It’s probably a little better for you, but above and beyond that, the subtle sweetness it provides works beautifully with the spices in the dish.

By the way, you can substitute chicken breast here, but since we’re not doing the traditional yogurt marinade first, I believe thighs work much better in this version. Usually chicken breasts are marinated in yogurt first, and then cooked in a tandoor oven, before being added to the sauce. It is a great way to do it, but even without that step, I thought this was excellent. So, I hope you give this American version of a British version of an Indian curry a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions of Chicken Tikka Masala:
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 or 3 tablespoons clarified butter
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 rounded tbsp finely grated peeled ginger
1 cup crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
1 can (13.5-oz) coconut milk, or about 1 2/3 cups heavy cream
1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth, or as needed (use to adjust sauce consistency to you liking)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
salt to taste
4 cups steamed rice

67 comments:

Rick said...

Chef John, It seemed like you only browned the thighs in the ghee, and then when you added the pieces back in, and "heated them through" you were "pretty much done". You almost made it sound optional to simmer for 10-15 minutes! It seems like they would be undercooked unless you actually cooked them through. Of course, the thighs looked pretty well cooked, so maybe they get fully cooked at the browning stage. Either way, I'm sure your readers are smart enough to not eat undercooked chicken! Looks amazing!

Chef John said...

Yes, boneless skinless chicken thighs cooked pretty fast, so once they're browned well on both sides, they would be cooked through. The extra simmering is basically to reheat and make sure. Also, when people cut them in smaller pieces they can judge the doneness then.

Novonia said...

I'm excited to try this, it looks very good, though I don't think I can find cardamom in my area (or if they have it it's probably 13$ for a small container).
One question though, would a non-stick pan work just as well with getting the sticky bits and the deglazing as one that's not coated? The only type of pan I have that type is nonstick and a 9" castiron good for fritattas and cornbread.

Jason Smith said...

Oh, Chef; my chef:

Shouldn't ghee be browned?

Kyle Mann said...

Since i have not used many of the spices mentioned (ie. turmeric, masala, coriander etc..) how spicy is this dish? just curious as im a little sensitive to spicy foods but this looks amazing and i want to try and prepare it!!

Kyle Mann said...

Since i have not used many of the spices mentioned (ie. turmeric, masala, coriander etc..) how spicy is this dish? just curious as im a little sensitive to spicy foods but this looks amazing and i want to try and prepare it!!

kinjun ranger said...

I love American Indian food almost as much as authentic Indian food. Thanks Chef John for another dish I will need to make.

Aidann said...

I've tried many recipes that are way too complicated for this dish. Looks like you nailed the flavors without the fuss. I'm definately going to try this. Excellent!

Toshiko Suisei said...

Hi Chef John, Your recipe looks YUM! May I suggest for your viewers who would like to try this but don't want to spend $5 or more for each of 5-6 bottles of spices (most may have paprika and maybe cumin) that they just buy one bottle of curry powder -- all the spices included in it!

Curry is so assertive anyway that the pre-mixed spice blend is very good; certainly good enough to lead those new to the taste and who enjoy it enough to then make the bigger investment if they like.

Alan in San Diego said...

Chef John,

If you were serious..."Bobs your uncle is the English equivalent of the American phrase "and there you go". Enjoy!

Lily Young said...

Had to make this for supper tonight, and despite missing a few ingredients, it was a hit! I will have to try with all the ingredients and see if I hit it out of the park! Thanks, Chef John. Keep 'em coming.

Jack Little said...

Looks great, I'll definitely be giving this one a try.

One thing to note though, this dish was actually created in Scotland, not England.

Chef John said...

Jason,
I've never seen browned Ghee, but I'm no Indian food expert, so maybe.

Novonia,
You can use a non-stick! I prefer steel, but still works fine.

Jack,
They're basically the same thing, no? ;)

Jack Little said...

I'd probably avoid saying that where any Scots can hear you.

jomateixa said...

I like cook and I like learn english so I learn english with your recipes.
Your blog is fantastic.

rancholyn said...

Thanks...one of my favorite dishes...I'll comment after I make it...

dmw said...

Since garam masala itself is a spice blend of turmeric, cumin, coriander, cardamom, and black and white pepper, couldn't one simply increase the amount of garam masala and use it alone?

Chef John said...

Sure, except you'd be stuck with the proportions in the garam blend. This way I can add extra of whichever I want.

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Greetings Chef! I'll has ya' done knows dat' there was a time in my purple haze days dat' I'd diligently wash and rinse the pan after sawtayin' my chicken. But I knows' better nows 'cuz my finicky lady-friend done shown me da' error of my ways. Incidentally she claims dat' deglazing was invented by the dishwasher to make clean-up dat' much easier. Ya' suppose she be makin 'dis up or might she be pullin' my chain?

Mike Zimmerman said...

You just HAD to throw the cayanne in there, didn't you, Chef John?



Actually, in this dish, I bet it works quite well. Thanks for posting this!

Matt Harmon said...

Chef John- Great recipe! I moved to the coconut milk a couple years ago when my wife developed a milk alergy and I love it. One suggestion is to add two small chopped and seeded jalepenos for the final simmer. I had an Indian thesis advisor and I recall that he ate them like popcorn...

BTW, thank you for making the videos feature the food and not the presenter. The food is the star!

Hannah Geci said...

I love your site and use it often. You make me laugh, and please don't ever change your theme song.

-Your very appreciative follower

Brendan said...

This dish was awesome... I have been wanting to make chicken tikka masala and I have tried it three times, yours being the third.. It never turns out right, even when following their recipe exactly.. Not sure where Chef Ramsey got his recipe, but it tasted awful.. Imagine frying turmeric in oil and eating the glob of whatever fries out.. that pretty much sums up the taste.. Yuck! This recipe on the other hand was just plain amazing! Thank you so much!!

Tim Reijnaert said...

Made this. Two words: Awe. Some.

SaraM said...

I made it last Sunday! I am Latin but my Indians friends told me that it was better that any Indian restaurant (outside India), though they prefer with Chapati (for me with rice is better). It will be the dish for this coming Diwali celebration! Awesome! Thanks Chef John.

sabeeha sarder said...

I cooked this tonight, and used plain yogurt and sour cream instead of coconut milk. It was so delicious! I tried a different version of this last week but it wasnt too good. This on the other hand was Amazing!! The entire family devoured it! Thank you! !!

Ryan Choo said...

It's 1 am here in Singapore and yes, today happens to be Diwali and I, for the very first time, attempted this very seemingly tasty yet complex dish. It's my first time, you see? �� I concocted my very own Garam Masala spice blend and followed Chef John your instructions. This is by far my best dish I have ever made following your recipe. Thank you so much for sharing, Chef! ��

Ari Seder said...

Chef John,

You mentioned in the video that chicken tikka masala is traditionally made with chicken breasts but that for your version thighs work better.

What is the reason that thighs work better in this recipe and what would be the drawbacks of using breasts instead?

Chef John said...

Chicken thighs have more fat and flavor than breasts!

Dragos said...

Chef John,

It's the first recipe I tried from foodwishes. Ended up great. I agree that it's hard to cook the meat by just browning, soI let it simmer for 20mins+ in the mixture.

However, the gingerness of the end dish was a bit overwhelming. So next time I will use just half the ginger.

Tina said...

Hi Chef,
can I use a regular milk instead of the cream ?

Craig Gilbreath said...

OH WOW!
Thanks so much for the recipe! My wife and I LOVE to eat Indian food and I was able to make this for a special date last week. Just enough heat to spice things up a bit...
By the way, Thanks for your Family-Friendly delivery of your videos. My 3 kiddos absolutely love to pile in my lap to catch up on the latest from Chef John! They get 'most' of your cheesy humor. And our oldest two boys 9 and 6 are actually confident enough to start independently venture into the kitchen. Thanks Chef John!

Faith said...

I LOVED this. It is probably my favourite of all your recipes, and I feel like that's saying something, since there are at least a couple dozen of your recipes that are in our regular dinner rotation, and more that I keep meaning to try but haven't gotten around to yet. The only part I didn't master was clarifying the butter. I couldn't make the microwave method work AT ALL, so I ended up just using vegetable oil. Any chance you might post a clarified butter how-to? Some visuals would be really helpful!

Gaurav Sehgal said...

you have done magic here.

Jeran said...

Chef John, we love you!
Or maybe more appropriate: we love this recipe!

Mike Zimmerman said...

Made this for Sunday comfort meal. Absolutely incredible. I didn't check to make sure we had tomato paste, so we had a fire drill - I reduced some tomato sauce down on high heat and that seemed to work well. Also used heavy cream. Twas a gorgeous meal and just lights out on the taste.

Christopher Saw said...

I made this recipe tonight and it was wonderfully delicious. Thank you Chef John!

Rachel Page said...

I've tried this recipe and it's very good. Will be making this again for sure.

Vin said...

What would you suggest as a good coconut milk alternative to those with allergies to coconut and nuts?

Mike Zimmerman said...

1 can (13.5-oz) coconut milk, or about 1 2/3 cups heavy cream

Chef John said...

What he said!;)

Villie C. said...

Hi Chef John,

I made this last night and it was delicious! My husband liked it so much he wants me to make it again but with potatoes! *sigh every time I add potatoes it always ruins it and the sauce becomes too thick. How would you adjust this recipe to accommodate the potatoes?

lubitot said...

Hello, made it already twice, its just amazing and easy to prepare. Thank you.

mr. webster said...

I had another good recipe for this dish, but this is WAY better. I brought it to my work lunch and people really liked it. Even the finicky people ;)

Thanks Chef John.

Foxfire sue said...

Chicken Tikka Masala is my "go to" dish at Indian restaurants. I made your recipe a few nights ago (exactly as written), served it with rice and naan (so we could mop up every bit of sauce). Awesome recipe with a good bit of heat. Even my husband, who claims he doesn't care for Indian food, loved it!
Thanks Chef John for another great recipe!

gripper999 said...

I've made this chicken tikka masala recipe 5 times now. I think the key's to its success are the toasting of the spices in the ghee as the chicken frys, using Chef John's tinned San Mazano tomatoes instead of fresh, and using coconut milk in the gravy instead of double cream. I use a mild Madras curry powder for the masala and add a palmful of crushed fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) at the finish for for that London CTM take-away taste. Spectacular. Thank you Chef John.

Angelita Cruz said...

I tried this dish and it turned out amazingly delicious! Thanks Chef John for sharing!

Angelita Cruz said...

I tried this dish and turned out amazingly delicious! Thanks Chef John!

David said...

Chef John, I have alway's enjoyed your amazing recipes.Your fantastic video quality, the time frame, and, lastly your very upbeat nature. I spread your name about highly. Thank-you so much for what you do.Dave.

Scion said...

After payday I plan to aquire the "garam masala" and make the heck out of this dish!

Scion said...

Well, I've cooked this two times already - if I don't get a handle on myself, I will have 'handles' soon! Delicious!

Ashley T. said...

you wouldn't happen to have a written step by step version of the recipe would you? I'd like to read it while i try this fabulous recipe tomorrow! thanks again! =)

Laura Harmon said...

Hi John,

Today (Dec. 3rd) I find that your search function on your blog is not working. So I am finding what I need on youtube and following the link there to your blog about that particular recipe.

I thought you might want to know.

Laura

Chef John said...

Thanks! it's a problem with Google, and I guess they're working on it! In the meantime just a regular Google search works probably even better, as long as for the keyword I"food wishes" in there.

Sekar Sharma said...

I enjoyed your amazing recipes. Your recipes video quality is fine and it's very helpfully to make this "Chicken Tikka Masala". I need some chicken indian recipes for my wife. Would you help me to give me some Indian recipes for my wife?

Andreas Hetland Haavik said...

I'm so excited to make this! I'm going to make this tomorrow as i've now gotten some garam masala from London (Can't get it where i live). By the way Chef John, if you put a citrus fruit in the microwave for 10-15 seconds you get about twice the juice from it!

golfinguy said...

A lesson in haste...
Wanted to make it - only had breasts and no yogurt, so brine it was. Very little salt in the spice blend because of the brine (good call?).
Got a phone call, was distracted, turned around with that freshly opened (large) can of puree... and poured the whole thing in. Fast forward 30 seconds - 'wait! Thats way too much! I'm an idiot' (that is uttered daily to be fair).
Added some sugar to help with the extra acidity of the puree (good call?), but the tomato flavor still over-powered the sauce a bit.
The chicken was tender and tasty, so that worked out well - but would anything have rescued me from my tomatoey foolishness?

Nauratha Singh said...

Chef John I love how easy and authentic this recipe is, my mom's favorite dish is paneer tikka masala when ever we eat at Indian restaurants, can I use paneer instead of chicken in this recipe? Please continue to inspire my dinner menus!

Andreas Hetland Haavik said...

I've made this two times now, and i would say that i LOVE this recipe! I would have to thank you for making this dish and sharing it with the internet! Kind regards from a 16 year old boy who loves to cook!

The Tower Keeper said...

I just made this last night and it is AWESOME; had the leftovers for lunch today and it's even better. This recipe is DEFINITELY a keeper.

Amy Deluca said...

Chef John, this is better than the chicken Tikka Masala I get from the Indian restaurant we go to all the time. LOVE it

Brian from Texas said...

Thank you, Chef John, for another great meal. I'm a huge fan of yours.

I thought mine was a little tomatoe'ie. I kept spicing it up until happy. Served with Chapati which was an awesome change from rice. I'm sweating a little. hahaha

Kathy Spit said...

Hi Chef John!
Another great recipe! This is delicious! Will make this again so for dinner guests!

Mark M said...

Good recipe though don't you think Indian dishes use redundant spices? Garam Masala is made up of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cardamom, cayenne etc. Now when you make the dish you end up adding more of the same ingredients.

Kevin S said...

Hi Chef John,

The color of your tikka masala incredible. I can't seem to get the same blend with my proportions of coconut milk and tomato sauce/paste. Is the taped version using cream?

Also, how would adding lime juice affect this recipe? worth a shot you think?

Thanks!
Kevin

Muse said...

Trying this tonight. Never had British-Indian food (or any for that matter) will see how goes. I love Japanese curry tho...

Kookaburra said...

Chef John, you are my husband's and my favorite! You're the most charming and lovable chef around.

I was wondering if you had any tips for making the ghee in the microwave? Every time I try to do it it explodes, and when I pull it out of the microwave, the thicker white part just sits on the bottom of the container, not on the top like people always say it's supposed to. I'm not sure if I'm microwaving it long enough, but I tried it several times for different lengths of time, and the last time I tried starting and stopping the darn microwave about a million times, and it got to the point where it was boiling in the container after I pulled it out. What am I doing wrong? Any ideas?

Thank you and thanks for being you!!! Sometimes if I feel bummed out, I'll even watch your videos just to cheer me up. You're the best.