Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

August 1, 2016

First, there was pomegranate. Then there was kale. Now, the newest superfood craze to sweep the nation is turmeric. While I was hesitant to jump on board the previous craze(y) trains (kale is sour, bitter, and chewy, and pomegranate is like a weird alien fruit that takes 3 hours to extract like 15 nibs…no thank you), I’m 100% ready to join the turmeric cult. Not only is it orangey-yellow (which happens to be my favorite color of the moment), but it’s also prevalent in Thai and Indian cooking (which happen to be my favorite cuisines).

It's just so colorful and pretty!

It’s just so colorful and pretty!


Whilst stumbling down the rabbit hole that is recipes-on-the-Internet, I found a pretty cool turmeric power smoothie recipe, which I tried and was delicious. Inspired, I set out to make more foods with turmeric in order to really reap the health benefits of this alleged superfood. Since I’ve really been craving Indian food lately (but I don’t know anyone who will actually go eat it with me), I decided to make my own version of chicken tikka masala.

Pictured: most of my friends.

Pictured: most of my friends (coughlaurencough).

This recipe from is one that I used to use in college (the first time was when we rented Slumdog Millionaire and wanted to really get in the spirit of things) and really enjoyed, so I thought I’d use it as inspiration for a slightly modified and not at all authentic (probably) recipe.


The marinade

  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp freshly minced ginger
  • 4 tsp season salt
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

The sauce

  • 1 tbsp ghee or clarified butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 8-ounce can of coconut milk
  • cilantro to garnish (optional)
  • Basmati rice or naan bread for accompaniment.


I mixed together the yogurt and marinade spices and then folded in the chicken breast chunks until they were nice and coated. I covered with plastic wrap and let it marinade in the fridge for about 3 hours.

The word "folding" in recipes always makes me giggle.

The word “folding” in recipes always makes me giggle.

10 minutes before the chicken is ready to come out of the fridge, mince 3 cloves of garlic and dice the jalapeño (discard the seeds, unless you’re into that kind of thing). Add the ghee to a large frying pan on medium heat. When the ghee melts, toss in your minced garlic and jalapeño and sauté for about 1 minute.

It doesn't look like much yet, but it's getting there!

It doesn’t look like much yet, but it’s getting there!

Add in the spices from the sauce ingredients and stir to coat. Take the chicken out of the fridge and using a slotted spoon (to remove excess yogurt), add the chicken to the frying pan. Cook for about 8 minutes, or until the chicken looks to be cooked completely, stirring frequently.

Much like me in the sun, it gets redder as it simmers.

Much like me in the sun, it gets redder as it simmers.

Stir in the tomato sauce and coconut milk until thoroughly combined. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat to low and let simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Consider covering your pan, as it may splatter. (If you’re making basmati rice to serve the tikka masala with, this would be a good time to start cooking that so they’ll both finish about the same time).

I'm really into brown rice right now.

I’m really into brown rice right now.

Once the chicken is done and the sauce has thickened, serve over rice or bread and garnish with cilantro.

Ta da!

Ta da!

To easily make this recipe vegetarian, simply replace the ghee with olive oil and the chicken with tofu, and omit the marinating process.

How do you incorporate turmeric into your diet?

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  • Shantel Gadsden August 10, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    This is a great recipe! I look forward to trying it out!

  • Kelley August 10, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    I’ve never made this before, but you make it seem easy enough that I’m going to have to try! Thanks Sydney!

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