• Chicken Tikka Masala


Chicken Tikka Masala

By Andrew Zimmern

This creamy, tomato-based, richly spiced curry has been a stalwart in my house for decades. It may not be traditional — there’s no long marinade, you don’t need a tandoori oven — but I can guarantee it’s delicious, and convenient and accessible enough for a weeknight dinner. My secret ingredient? This Madras Curry spice blend. It adds beautiful complexity and heat to the sauce. While the chicken cooks, make a batch of my lemon and carrot pilaf to serve it with. I love the combo of the bright, citrusy rice with the sauce.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Servings: 4


  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Madras Curry Blend
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 4 dried Kashmiri chilies
  • 1  25-ounce jar tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup thick Greek yogurt
  • Dried curry leaves, for garnish
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Rice pilaf, for serving (recipe below)


Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add the oil and the butter to a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the thighs to the oil and cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the thighs to a plate and reserve.

Add the garlic, onions, bell pepper, Madras curry blend, garam masala, paprika, Kashmiri chiles, tomato puree and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes, until the chiles are softened.

Place the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the chicken back to the pan and pour the sauce over it. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour.

Serve with my lemon and carrot rice pilaf, garnished with cilantro and curry leaves.

Lemon Rice Pilaf

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small handful of angel hair pasta, broken into 1-inch lengths (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2  1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup grated carrots

Place a medium pot over medium heat and add the oil. Fry the pasta pieces for a few minutes to lightly toast, then add the garlic and onion. When onions are glassy and aromatic, add the salt, lemon slices, rice, chicken stock and carrots. Bring to a simmer, stir once, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Let rest off of the heat for 10 minutes, remove cover, stir adding remaining lemon juice and reserve.

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