Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Delicious Dinnertime Meal: Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala using Garam Masala and other spices with curry rice and tortillas
Need a new recipe that uses chicken? Try Chicken Tikka Masala.
One recipe I've always wanted to learn was Chicken Tikka Masala. You'll see this fragrant and tasty dish in Indian restaurants. I made mine in 30 minutes. And it turned out delicious! How did I learn it?

OK, I cheated a little.

Months ago I bought a couple of McCormick spice packets and threw it in the back of my pantry. A McCormick spice packet comes with pre-measured spices and also includes a recipe card. 

I rediscovered one of them while cleaning out the pantry and decided to add Chicken Tikka Masala to the menu plan.

Pre-measured spice packet paprika garlic Garam Masala
An easier way to make Chicken Tikka Masala using McCormick's spice packet. I found this at my local grocery store.

If it's your first time making this dish, having the packet on hand is extremely helpful. It saves some time measuring out the spices and filtering through online recipes.   

By the way, if you don't know what Chicken Tikka Masala is, it's a dish filled with South Asian flavors and typically found in Indian restaurants. I read that it's popular in the United Kingdom, where it most likely originated in an Indian or Pakistani restaurant. Here in the U.S., I remember having some great conversations while eating this dish with my friends---from the East Coast to the Pacific Northwest. Yum!

In the end, I was so glad I made this meal. I did tweak the dish a bit to use what I had at home (just read on for that). However, the dish was still rich in flavor and satisfying to the palate.The best part is, I have all the spices at home (I just to buy certain ingredients so I can make Garam Masala). So next time I want to make it, I can just refer to the recipe card!

Chicken Tikka Masala
(recipe from McCormick, with my own additions/substitutes)
Time: 20-30 minutes, serving 4-6 (we had leftovers!).

Spices Needed
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Minced Garlic
1 tsp Garam Masala (I love the homemade garam masala from the Amrita Singh, and she's posted it at the bottom of this recipe. I also added it below, just scroll down.)
1/2 tsp ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper (optional)

Other Ingredients
2 TBSPN butter
1 and 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breats, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 TBSPN lemon juice
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (I didn't have this on hand so I used some tomato paste as a substitute)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 TBSPN cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt

Items I added:
Trader Joe's Eggplant Garlic Spread (I had this in my fridge and needed to use it before it expired, so adding it to the dish was a bonus!)

What I served it with:
Curry rice
Warm tortillas (for dipping into the sauce. I didn't have naan bread, but this was the next best thing!)

1. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add chicken, onion and lemon juice; cook and stir 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Add all of the spices except the Red Pepper; cook and stir 1 minute.

2. Stir in tomatoes until well mixed. Stir cream into cornstarch and salt until smooth.  Gradually stir into skillet. Stir in Red Pepper to taste if desired (note: I added a pinch).  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; stirring frequently, simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. 

As I previously mentioned, I didn't have tomatoes on hand, so I mixed in about 1/3 cup of tomato paste and 1/2-1 cup of Trader Joe's Eggplant Garlic spread. It still turned out delicious and is a testament that you can use whatever you have in your pantry/fridge to make an amazing sauce! 

3. Serve with cooked rice or naan bread if desired (or warm tortillas!)

DIY Garam Masala by Amrita Singh
8 brown cardamoms
1/2 cup coriander seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seed
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp cloves

1. Preheat oven to 200 F. Arrange all ingredients on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 10 minutes in oven. Once you start to smell the spices, they're done. Let spices cool.

2. Blitz in batches in a spice grinder. Grind to a fine, powder-like consistency. Store in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 6 months.

You can Chicken Tikka Masala with white rice, curry rice, naan bread, or in my case, warm tortillas.

Chicken Tikka Masala is a dish you can make in place of your usual chicken dish.  And the dish burst with flavors. Why not try it this week?


  1. This sounds so delicious! I pinned it and will try it out at home. Wish me good luck :)

    1. It was delicious indeed. If you've got any recipes from Ecuador Joanna, I'd love to hear about it!