Chicken Tikka Masala Curry

chicken tikka masala curry plated featured

This creamy, rich, tomato , and chicken entrée is comforting and delicious.

Chicken Tikka Masala Curry is my go-to Indian Entrée

Chicken Tikka Masala curry is delightfully creamy, rich, and slightly earthy.  While I generally love all manner of Indian dishes: korma, butter chicken, vindaloo, and so on, I always try to have Tikka Masala curry on the table.  

For those of you who are new to Indian cuisine and are concerned about the spice or flavor profile, I find this to be one of the more mild and accessible dishes for newcomers.

finished chicken tikka masala curry in pan

Curry vs Masala

Curries and Masalas both contain blends of spice.   I tend to think of the difference between the two as the difference between rectangles and squares.   Curry can take many forms: some are spicy, some are not, and some even include Masala in their spice mix. 

I refer to this recipe as a curry because of a few twists I take on Chicken Tikka Masala.   A heavy onion base is used, as well as a larger than normal quantity of whole tomatoes.    This makes for a tomato heavy dish with a mild flavor.
One other twist is that I used smoked tomatoes.  It’s completely optional for this meal, but adds new depth to the flavor of the sauce.   You can check out my guide on how to smoke your own tomatoes

How to serve and suggested sides

Chicken Tikka Masala Curry is a saucy chicken dish.  Like many Indian dishes, it’s best served with basmati rice.   I prefer to serve my tikka masala directly over the rice.  

When consumed this way, you can shovel it onto a nice warm naan bread.  I’ll share a recipe later for making naan on the grill. 

In addition to Naan, I love to eat this meal with freshly fried papads.  They’re salty and crispy and provide a great contrast in texture to the tikka masala.

Lastly, you can never go wrong serving a few hot, crispy samosas as a wonderful side dish.

potato chickpea samosa plated featured 2

Different sources of creaminess

In this recipe, I used sour cream to create a creamy element in the curry.   Sour cream works well because it’s so thick and has a flavor profile not too different from homemade greek yogurt.  Also, I almost always have a lot of sour cream on hand.  

Traditionally though, Tikka Masala is made with yogurt.    While yogurt is most commonly a breakfast food in the US, in India and many other parts of the world it’s eaten with all kinds of dishes. 

Lastly, it’s quite hip with the pinterest crowd to use heavy cream in Tikka Masala.   It creates a rich creamy flavor and is quite nice, but I don’t often keep it on hand.  

You can substitute sour cream for an equal quantity of yogurt or heavy cream in this recipe.

Let's make Chicken Tikka Masala Curry!

Begin by chopping your chicken into chunks.  Size them however you’d like to eat,  I try to go for about 1” cubes.  Heat a pan to high heat and add some canola oil.  Once hot, add the chicken.  At this stage we are just trying to brown the chicken to lock in its juiciness.    Cook until at least two sides are browned.

chicken cubed an added to pan
browned chicken on a plate

Remove the chicken to a plate.  Dice an onion and add to the pan with some oil.  Fry for about four minutes until golden brown, stirring occasionally.  Then add the spice, butter, tomato paste, and stir.

browning onions in a pan
browned onions with spices

Fry for another two minutes, stirring frequently.  Then add the tomatoes, stir, and let come to a boil.   Once it reaches a boil, add the chicken back in and let simmer uncovered for ten minutes.  Verify the chicken is done by taking one out and cutting it open. 

chicken in tomatoes simmering

Add the sour cream and stir it together.  Let it cook for just a minute.  If you need to keep cooking other dishes, you can reduce the pan to a very low simmer at this point.

finished chicken tikka masala curry in pan

When you’re ready, plate with any sides, and enjoy :)

chicken tikka masala curry plated featured

Recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala Curry

chicken tikka masala curry plated featured

Chicken Tikka Masala Curry

This creamy, rich, tomato , and chicken entrée is comforting and delicious.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 180 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 large frying pan

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb chicken breast
  • 32 oz whole peeled tomatoes I used my own canned tomatoes
  • ½ cup sour cream or yogurt or heavy cream
  • 1 onion, diced I used a sweet onion
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste I used frozen paste from my garden
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 ½ tsp Spanish paprika or your favorite paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp turmeric
  • tsp garam masala

Instructions
 

  • Begin by chopping your chicken into chunks. Size them however you’d like to eat, I try to go for about 1” cubes. Heat a pan to high heat and add some canola oil. Once hot, add the chicken. At this stage we are just trying to brown the chicken to lock in its juiciness. Cook until at least two sides are browned.
    browned chicken on a plate
  • Remove the chicken to a plate. Dice an onion and add to the pan with some oil. Fry for about four minutes until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Then add the spice, butter, tomato paste,
    browned onions with spices
  • Fry for another two minutes, stirring frequently. Then add the tomatoes, stir, and let come to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, add the chicken back in and let simmer uncovered for ten minutes. Verify the chicken is done by taking one out and cutting it open.
    chicken in tomatoes simmering
  • Add the sour cream and stir it together. Let it cook for just a minute. If you need to keep cooking other dishes, you can reduce the pan to a very low simmer at this point.
    finished chicken tikka masala curry in pan
  • When you’re ready, plate with any sides, and enjoy :)
    chicken tikka masala curry plated featured

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25of totalCalories: 180kcal
Keyword chicken tikka masala, curry
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Nutrition Facts
Chicken Tikka Masala Curry
Serving Size
 
0.25 of total
Amount per Serving
Calories
180
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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