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chicken tikka masala recipe

chicken tikka masala

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sepideh Esmaili Campos


Broiler charred chicken thighs in a creamy, spicy tomato sauce. 

Revised on September 17, 2021 to make the chopping easier and the end result more tasty! 


  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Kosher salt 
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled, chopped into a few large chunks
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander 
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 pounds chicken thighs, boneless, skinless 
  • 3 Tablespoons ghee (or canola oil)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1.5 – 2 teaspoons dried red chili flakes (based on your heat tolerance)
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1, 28-ounce can plum tomatoes
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream 
  • ¾ cups low sodium chicken broth 
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped 


  1. In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk and 1 teaspoon salt. 
  2. Place the ginger and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Note: if you have a small chopper or food processor, this is the time to use it. You can also mince the ginger and garlic by hand if you don’t have a food processor. 
  3. Add  ½ of the minced ginger and ½ of the minced garlic to the bowl of buttermilk. Set the rest of the ginger and garlic aside for the sauce. 
  4. In a small bowl, combine the garam masala, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon. 
  5. Add half of the spice mixture to the buttermilk. Stir the buttermilk to combine well. 
  6. Add the chicken to the buttermilk mixture, toss to combine well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a large plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. 
  7. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, preheat the broiler. 
  8. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a baking rack inside the lined baking sheet. 
  9. Grease the baking rack with cooking spray and use tongs to transfer the chicken to the baking rack, letting excess marinade drip back into the bowl.
  10. Arrange a single layer of marinated chicken on top of the baking rack (use more than one baking sheet and rack set up or bake in batches if the chicken doesn’t fit in one layer)
  11. Place the chicken under the broiler until the chicken is “tandooried” and speckled with black roasted spots, 10-20 minutes depending on your oven. Set a timer and check the chicken every 10 minutes so it doesn’t scorch. 
  12. While the chicken is roasting, make the sauce. 
  13. Place the onion chunks in the food processor, pulse 10-15 times to finely dice the onion. You can also dice the onion by hand if you don’t have a food processor. 
  14. Heat the ghee in a large shallow dutch oven, or heavy bottomed sautée pan, over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. 
  15. Add the diced onion and 1 teaspoon salt to the oil, cook until the onions are translucent and soft, 5-8 minutes. If the bottom of the pan gets too dark at any point, add a splash of water and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Let the water evaporate completely. 
  16. Add the rest of the minced ginger and garlic to the pan, cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. 
  17. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until the paste has turned dark brown, 3-5 minutes. 
  18. Add the rest of the spice mix along with the red pepper flakes to the onions and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. 
  19. Use a fork to remove the plum tomatoes from the can, leaving the sauce behind, and add the tomatoes to the onions along with ½ teaspoon salt. 
  20. Use a wooden spoon to break the tomatoes down into small pieces, cover the sautee pan, reduce the heat to low and cook the tomatoes for 30 minutes. Stir the sauce every 10 minutes to prevent scorching. Add splashes of water if necessary to prevent scorching. 
  21. Remove the blackened chicken from the oven and cut the thighs into 1 inch pieces. 
  22. Add the blackened chicken to the pan of tomatoes, along with the tomato juice that you left behind in the can to the chicken.
  23. Add the heavy cream and chicken broth to the pan, bring to a bubble and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally to prevent scorching. 
  24. Taste sauce and add more salt and red pepper flakes if necessary. Garnish with fresh cilantro and a drizzle of cream if desired. 
  25. Serve over cooked basmati rice alongside plain yogurt for a cooling treat. 


A few changes I’ve made the the original recipe: 

  • use a food processor to chop the garlic, ginger, and onions
  • roast the chicken on a baking rack to get more tandoori-like char on the surface
  • add low sodium chicken broth