Chef John's Chicken Tikka Masala


dinner, goto, meat, special occasion


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

70g (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


2021-06-28 James: This got a really good reaponse from Silke. It's best with the full cream rather than the coconut milk.


Step 1
Place chicken in a bowl and drizzle vegetable oil over chicken; toss to coat.

Step 2
Whisk kosher salt, garam masala, ground cumin, ground coriander, smoked paprika, ground turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cardamom together in a small bowl. Season chicken with spice mixture and turn to coat evenly.

Step 3
Melt clarified butter in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Cook chicken thighs in hot butter until browned on all sides, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. When cool enough to handle, cut chicken into bite-size pieces.

Step 4
Reduce heat under the skillet to medium-high. Stir onion into skillet; saute until onion softens and turns translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir. Saute until paste caramelizes, about 5 minutes. Stir garlic and ginger into tomato-onion mixture and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Step 5
Pour the crushed tomatoes into the skillet and bring to a boil while scraping the browned bits of food off of the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. Pour in coconut milk and chicken broth; bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors blend and sauce is slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.

Step 6
Stir chicken, any accumulated juices from the chicken, cilantro, and red pepper flakes into tomato mixture; bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until chicken is cooked through and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.


Possible additions:
Chilli pod
Garlic naan
Mango Lasse