Main image
9th March
written by Steph

Chicken Tikka Masala (aka "Heaven on a plate")

If you’re anything like Tony and I, then you list Indian food as one of your favorite ethnic cuisines.  Coming from Toronto, I was used to a surfeit of wonderful and authentic Indian restaurants (I’ve heard tell from people from India that some of the best Indian food they’ve ever eaten they’ve had in T.O.!), so you can imagine my dismay when I moved to Nashville and found the Indian restaurants here less than inspiring.  The few places that existed tended to season every dish the exact same way (chicken korma should NOT taste the same as aloo gobi!), and often left me feeling bogged down yet oddly bereft once I was finished.  Sure there’s a great veggie Indian place just down the street, but we’re omnivores, and sometimes we crave meat.  Thankfully a WONDERFUL Indian place opened up across the street from our apartment about a year ago and Tony and I have never looked back.  Generally speaking Bombay Palace now takes care of all of our Indian needs, but there is something oddly rewarding about creating great Indian food in your own kitchen.  This recipe that I’ve adapted from over at the Pioneer Woman’s site will allow you to do just that!  Think Indian food is too hard to make at home?  Think again! Ingredients
  • 1 – 2 chicken breasts (if they’re of the largish size, as ours always are, we normally find that 1 breast can easily serve two people but adjust based on how many you’re serving and size of breasts)
  • cumin
  • ground coriander
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, roughly diced
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 inch of ginger, peeled and minced/grated on a microplane zester
  • 2 tbsp garam masala spice (or 7-spice powder)
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (get the kind with jalapeños, green peppers, and onions if possible!  It adds great flavor and a nice kick!)
  • 1 tbsp of brown sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ - ¾ cup heavy cream
  • cilantro
  1. Cover chicken breasts with cling film/ wax paper and pound so that the entire breast is a similar width (otherwise it won’t cook evenly), around ½ an inch or thereabouts.  I normally just bash the heck out of them with a can from the pantry.
  2. Season chicken breasts on both sides with cumin and cilantro.  Then slather with yogurt and place the chicken on wire rack (like the cooling racks you use for backing) set atop a foil lined baking tray.  Place in oven with the top rack set so that the chicken winds up being about 7 inches away from the top of the oven.  Set oven to broil on high, and cook chicken for about 8 - 10 minutes on each side.
  3. While chicken is cooking, heat large pan over medium-high heat and melt butter and add olive oil.  Add in onions and cook for about 3 – 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then add in garlic, ginger and mushrooms and a little bit of salt.  Let sauté for another 5 minutes or so.
  4. Add in your garam masala spice and let fry for 1 minute.  Then add in your can of tomatoes and your brown sugar (to combat the acidity of the tomatoes) and your peas.  Bring to a simmer, and let cook for 5 – 10 minutes.
  5. By this time, your chicken should be cooked and removed from the oven, so slice it into bite-sized pieces.  Before adding the chicken to your sauce, add the cream to the pan and mix well to incorporate, then add in the chicken.
  6. Top chicken tikka masala with fresh chopped cilantro, and then serve over rice and with a side of naan (or in our case, grilled pita bread!).
Mmmmmm… This is so good and actually tastes really authentic.  I find with ethnic cuisines that it can sometimes be difficult to get the flavor profiles and the balance just right, but this recipe is fantastically delicious and tastes just the way you’d hope it would.  It’s also really easy to pull together, and comes together quite quickly – ideal for a weeknight meal.


I’ll note that this time around I did not add the onions or the peas directly to the dish itself because I was serving it over a rice pilaf  (which is really delicious and easy, and I will share the recipe one of these days!) I had made a few days earlier that already had those items in it!  Also, I often toss in some thinly sliced green peppers along with the mushrooms if I happen to have them on hand, as I’m big into making sure we get lots of veggies in our meals (again, we’re omnivores, so as much as we like meat, we also love our vegetables!). There are few Indian dishes I feel I can successfully pull off at home, though lord knows I’ve tried.  I often get intimidated/thwarted by all of the different spices needed, but I’m happy to say I’ve made this one many times over and I think I could give many restaurants (especially the ones in Nashville!) a run for their money.  While we still hit up Bombay Palace on a regular basis, I’m happy knowing that should the day come where we once more live in a city where good Indian is hard to find, at the very least, I’ll be able to have this one dish whenever I want!


  1. 03/09/2010

    I like Chicken Mahkani (Makhani?) better than Tikka Masala, but both are lovely. I only tried Indian food for the first time three years ago and I completely fell in love.

  2. 03/09/2010

    I have only experimented a little bit in making Indian food, but this looks wonderful and not that hard to do. The pictures are wonderful and the dish looks delicious! We have a few good Indian restaurants in the area, but haven’t been to one in quite awhile, so I might try this soon. The list of spices in this recipe isn’t obscenely long either, which is great as well. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. 03/10/2010

    OK, I really have to stop coming to your blog on less than a full stomach! 🙂

    I love, love, love Indian food. I finally got my husband turned onto it as well so now it’s one of the more frequent cuisines we eat, although living in the sticks 25 miles south of Atlanta, we are generally limited to weekend lunches rather than ‘feel like Indian tonight?’ meals. Tikka Masala is a mutual favorite of ours. I’ll definitely be trying out this recipe!

  4. 03/11/2010

    @ Amanda: I think I like both equally well, and the reason I feature this one is because it’s the one dish I have a good recipe for! Never fear, however, because I’m always on the lookout for other tried and true Indian recipes! 😉
    @ zibilee: Definitely one of the appeals to this recipe was the fact that it didn’t have an alarmingly long ingredient list. My mom has given me an Indian cookbook that calls for so many separate spices I always get overwhelmed and put it away!
    @ Lesley: Nothing wrong with weekend lunches! That’s often when we hit up our favorite Indian place too! I hope you have success with this recipe!

Leave a Reply