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Chicken Tikka Masala


Please understand how amazing this is about to be for you. I need you to prepare yourself, kthxbi.




  • 810 boneless/skinless chicken thighs, chopped into chunks
  • 2/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 rounded tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 rounded tablespoon ginger paste
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup water (optional, SEE NOTE BELOW)
  • 1 rounded tablespoon kosher salt (SEE NOTE BELOW)
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro

Masala Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter, ghee or vegetable oil
  • 2 large white onions, diced
  • 1 rounded tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 rounded tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot curry powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika (smoked would be great)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15oz can tomato puree
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 12 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro, to garnish
  • Serve with lime wedges, rice and/or flatbread of choice
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle (optional)


For the marinade

  1. In a large bowl, combine all of the dried spices and herbs with the greek yogurt. Add the garlic and ginger paste, and the lemon juice and water (if using). Mix well, and add the chunks of chicken thighs. Mix to evenly combine, cover with plastic wrap and set aside on your kitchen counter for at least 1 hour on your counter, up to 2. You can also marinate this for up to 4 hours in your fridge. Do not let this marinate more than 4 hours! The lemon juice and yogurt will start to “cook” the chicken and compromise the texture. So FOUR hours MAX!!
  2. Heat a large skillet (nonstick would be easier to deal with, but not entirely necessary) over medium-high heat. Add a couple tablespoons of fat (butter, ghee, or oil). When the fat is hot, add enough chicken to cover the pan, but leave about an inch of space between each piece. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan because then the chicken will steam instead of brown. And because you’re using thighs, they’ll need a bit more room to release their fat. Brown both sides of the chicken until spotty brown, some will be browner than others and that’s okay. Also, if your chicken is sticking to the pan (and you’re using a non-stick), leave it alone until it’s ready to release on its own. You may need to do this in batches, I had to do mine in 3 batches total. Which was cool, because I had a nice layer of fond (browned bits) at the bottom of the pan by the time it was over. The goal here is to just get a little color on the chicken, you don’t want to cook it all the way through because it will continue to braise in the sauce later. Set your chicken aside and let’s work on the sauce.

For the sauce

  1. You should have a good amount of fat left in the pan from the chicken, but if you don’t, add a little more. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the onions, garlic paste, and ginger paste. Add some kosher salt to help the onions sweat a little faster. Cook the onions until softened — about 5 minutes, stirring and scraping up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Add all of the dried spices to the onions except for the granulated garlic and onion. Let these spices bloom in the fat, continue to scrape the pan if necessary. Tip: If at any point your heat is too high and things are burning, please lower it! Add a splash of water if the browned bits aren’t releasing easily enough, and don’t worry, this will evaporate.
  2. Add the tomato paste. Stir the paste around and toast for about 5-7 minutes or until the paste deepens in color. Add the pureed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and water. Continue to scrape any browned bits if necessary. Bring to a simmer, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Leave uncovered or semi-covered. If it’s splashing everywhere, reduce the heat! Add the granulated garlic and onion, kosher salt and pepper to taste. Let this sauce reduce until its nice and thick, about 15-20 minutes. Add the cold butter, and stir in in to let it slowly melt and emulsify the sauce. When it’s visibly thicker in consistency, add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Give it a taste! See what it needs, add whatever you need to. You are in full control here. The measurements I give you for the seasonings specifically, are starting point measurements. You may want to add more of this and that, and feel completely free to do so!
  3. When you’re happy with it, add the heavy cream. Stir that around until it’s fully incorporated. Give it another taste, because cream can mute some flavors, and you may or may not need to re-boost certain things. Now, add the rested chicken and the accumulated juices back to the sauce. Stir gently and make sure each piece of chicken is basically covered. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for an additional 10-15 minutes. Give it one last taste, because this is your last chance to adjust anything.
  4. Finally, you’re done. Serve this delicious stuff over rice, or alongside any kind of flatbread. We’re fans of the carb, so we ate it with both. Garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve with wedges of lime and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Whew! Get your life.


If using regular plain yogurt, you may not need to add the water. I used water to help thin out the super thick greek yogurt, but it’s totally optional either way.

If you don’t have kosher salt, which is a much bigger flake and less salty than regular salt, you will need to adjust the measurement. Don’t use a full tablespoon of fine or table salt, it will give you high blood pressure! That’s way too salty, maybe a teaspoon at the most. Be safe and use as little as you can, because you can always add it later, but you cannot take it away.

If you cannot find garlic or ginger paste, just use finely minced fresh garlic and ginger instead.

  • Prep Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 50 mins
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