Passion Project: My (Better Than Take-Out) Chicken Tikka Masala


DSC_0106-2  recettebilingue I couldn’t possibly complete my chicken week without one of my favorite chicken dishes: tikka masala! a.k.a, the most British of all Indian dishes! Did you know that the debate still rages about this recipe’s origin? Though India claims its creation, the British have declared it “British National Dish.” So what’s the story behind Tikka Masala exactly? Tikka refers to the chunks or cuts of meat, and masala means spicy. So it’s basically chunks of chicken, marinated in a spicy, tomato based, creamy sauce. Honestly, the sauce takes the center stage in this dish. I could eat chicken tikka masala without chicken and be perfectly happy with it! Just dip a warm naan in the sauce and you’re good to go!


DSC_0088 There’s something incredibly comforting about a warm rice bowl, topped with a heap of chicken masala and a generous spoonful of sauce. The creaminess, spiciness, and tenderness combine to warm you up inside… Though chicken tikka masala is one of my go-to order-in dishes (my roommates and I probably order it once a week…), I like to make it from scratch when I have some spare time for lunch. It makes my house smell amazing and it’s so gratifying.


DSC_0072 For this recipe, I learned about how marinades work. Remember when I explored dry rubs a few days ago?  Well marinades are an alternative to the latter. They are typically liquid based, and contain some acidic ingredient like lemon juice, wine or vinegar. That acidity helps tenderize the meat, as it causes the meat’s tissue to break down. The chicken can then absorb more flavors and become juicier! Now for the cooking technique, I finally fired up my grill! I wanted the meat to get golden and crispy before adding it to the sauce. The secret is to brown the chicken without cooking it all the way through. That way when you add it in the sauce and let it reduce, it will finish cooking and not be dry.

DSC_0118 This recipe was also a perfect way to use the leftover ingredients from the Yellow Curry I prepared the other day. I had 1/2 tin of coconut milk with 1/2 the coconut cream left, and I had doubled the amount of brown rice to have some leftovers in my fridge. This made the whole cooking process quicker. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, most are just spices that you probably have in your pantry if you’re used to cooking spicy anyways. Bon appétit! DSC_0111-2

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients: (for 1 very large portion or 2 smaller ones with more rice…)

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1/2 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cream from the coconut milk can
  • 1 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1/4 lemon, juice
  • 3 tbsp tikka masala paste (recipe below)
  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice (perfect for leftover grains!)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • a handful of fresh cilantro
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for the Tikka Masala Paste:

  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger, 2 in
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • a drop of vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • a pinch of sea salt


  1. Start by making the tikka masala paste. In a blender, add all of the spices, the tomato paste, the grated/pureed ginger and garlic, the chopped cilantro, and the oil. Pulse until the paste is smooth, adding water gradually until you reach the desired consistency.
  2. Then, prep the marinade for the chicken. Mix the yogurt with a tbsp of the tikka masala paste, and the lemon juice. Cut the chicken breast in small chunks and coat them with the marinade. Let it sit in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it (or up to overnight!).
  3. Roughly mince the onion and cut the bell pepper into strips. Heat some olive oil in a large pot. Add the peppers, onions, some salt, and let it all soften for a few minutes. When they are getting brown, add a drizzle of water and let it evaporate to further soften them.
  4. Add the remaining tikka masala paste to the onions and peppers. Stir to coat it all. Next, add the crushed tomatoes, coconut milk and half of the coconut cream. Stir, bring the sauce to a simmer, and let it reduce.
  5. Heat some olive oil on the grill. Make skewers with the chunks of chicken, and let them sizzle on the grill for 2-3 minutes on each side. When they’re golden, transfer the chicken to the pot filled with sauce. Add the remaining coconut cream and stir again. Let the chunks soak up the flavors for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining cream and give it a last stir.
  6. To plate, start with the brown rice and top with a generous portion of the sauce and chicken. Garnish with fresh cilantro and enjoy!

recette-french DSC_0090-2 Temps Total: 30 minutes

Ingrédients: (pour 1 grande portion or 2 plus petites)

  • 1 blanc de poulet
  • 1/2 conserve de tomates concassées
  • 1/2 conserve de lait de coco
  • la moitié de la crème du lait de coco
  • 1 c.s de yaourt nature
  • 1/4 citron, jus
  • 3 c.s de pâte de tikka masala (recette ci dessous)
  • 1/4 d’oignon jaune
  • 1/2 poivron jaune
  • 1/2 tasse de riz brun cuit (parfait pour les restes!)
  • 1/2 tasse d’eau
  • une poignée de coriandre fraîche
  • sel de mer et poivre noir fraichement moulu

Ingrédients pour la pâte de Tikka Masala:

  • 1 c.c de garam masala
  • 2 c.c de paprika
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c.c de piment de Cayenne
  • 1/2 c.c de cumin en poudre
  • 1/2 c.c de coriandre en poudre
  • 1 c.s de concentré de tomates
  • 1 petite gousse d’ail
  • 1 pièce de gingembre frais, 3 cm
  • 2 c.s de coriandre fraiche
  • un filet d’huile végétale
  • 2 c.s d’eau
  • une pincée de sel de mer


  1. Commencez par préparer la pâte de tikka masala. Dans un blender, ajoutez toutes les épices, le concentré de tomates, le gingembre et l’ail écrasé, la coriandre fraiche, et l’huile végétale. Pulsez jusqu’à ce que la pâte soit homogène, en ajoutant l’eau pour aider.
  2. Puis, préparez la marinade pour le poulet. Mélangez le yaourt avec 1 c.s de pâte de tikka masala, et le jus de citron. Coupez le poulet en lamelles et recouvrez le de marinade. Laissez le reposer au frigo dans un sachet de congélation.
  3. Émincez l’oignon grossièrement et coupez le poivron en fines lamelles. Faites chauffer de l’huile dans une grande casserole. Ajoutez les poivrons, l’oignon et du sel, et laissez le tout suer quelques minutes. Lorsque les légumes sont dorés, ajoutez un filet d’eau et laissez le s’évaporer.
  4. Ajoutez le reste de pâte de tikka masala dans la casserole avec les légumes et mélangez le tout. Ajoutez ensuite les tomates concassées, le lait de coco et la moitié de la crème de coco. Faites frémir la sauce avant de la laisser réduire.
  5. Faites chauffer un filet d’huile sur le grill. Faites des brochettes avec les pièces de poulet et mettez les à griller. Laissez cuire pendant 2-3 minutes de chaque côté. Lorsque le poulet est bien grillé, transférez-le dans le pot avec la sauce, en enlevant les broches. Laissez le mijoter pendant 3 minutes environ. Ajoutez la crème de coco restante et mélangez à nouveau.
  6. Pour servir, commencez par le riz brun et versez une bonne louche de sauce et de poulet dessus. Garnissez de coriandre fraîche et bon appétit!

3 thoughts on “Passion Project: My (Better Than Take-Out) Chicken Tikka Masala

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