Tikka Masala

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My son recently spent a few weeks in San Marcos visiting family.  During his time there, he was led to Churchill’s Pub and Grille where he ordered tikka masala.  A few days after returning home, he was feeling a bit of fernweh.  So, I decided to make a batch of tikka masala for him.

Tikka Masala

Tikka Masala

Having an oven that reaches 900 degrees would be a dream. Without a tandoor or brick oven, getting a decent char will require a grill -- unless you have an incredible broiler (which I don't). I prefer a wood or charcoal grill for this recipe, but rarely take the time to set it up -- particularly when only cooking 2 - 3 chicken breasts. So, unless I'm making a big batch, I use our smaller gas grill. Either the chicken, the sauce, or even the entire dish can be made made 1-3 days in advance. In a pinch you could even use leftover roasted chicken.


    For the chicken:
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (or other cooking oil)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated (about 1 inch)
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 - 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • For the sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated (about 1 inch)
  • 3 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped


    Marinate the chicken:
  1. Trim and pound the chicken to an even thickness.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon ghee, ginger, and garlic to a 12-inch skillet. Place over medium heat and cook until fragrant, about 60-90 seconds. Add garam masalam cumin, and chile powder. Stir until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Remove from heat
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lime juice, and spice mixture. Add the chicken and coat both sides of chicken pieces with the yogurt mixture. Marinate for 30 - 60 minutes.
  4. Place chicken on the grill and cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
  5. Place the cooked chicken on a cutting board and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Cut chicken into bite-sized cubes.
  7. Make the sauce:
  8. While the chicken is marinating, make the sauce.
  9. Using the same 12-inch skillet, add 4 tablespoons ghee and chopped onion. Heat over medium and cook until onion is browned and caramelized.
  10. Add ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  11. Add garam masala, cumin, chili, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  12. Add the tomato sauce, cream, and table salt. Reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer uncovered (but use a splatter screen!) until slightly thickened, 5-10 minutes. Stir frequently enough to prevent burning.
  13. Add grilled and cubed chicken to sauce. Simmer for additional 5 minutes.
  14. Remove from heat, add cilantro. Season with additional salt, if needed.
  15. Serve with basmati rice (either plain or seasoned with 1 tablespoon turmeric, 1 tablespoon ghee, 3/4 teaspoon table salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to 2 cups uncooked rice -- eh, and throw in a few green peas if you want.)

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