Chicken Tikka Masala

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This dish was called Chicken Makhanwala (Butter Chicken) until the British adopted it as their favorite Indian dish and its name morphed into this one. Chicken tikka means “bite-size boneless chicken.”


Cooking Methodbaking, sauteeing



Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentfood processor


Taste and Texturebuttery, creamy, garlicky, hot & spicy, rich, savory, spiced


  • 12 cooked Tandoori Chicken thighs
  • 3 green chiles, preferably serranos, each 2 inches (5 cm) long
  • 1 piece (1 inch/2.5 cm) peeled ginger root
  • 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) whole or diced tomatoes, including juice
  • ½ cup (125 mL) butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) freshly ground toasted cumin seeds, divided (see Notes)
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) paprika
  • 1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream (35%)
  • 1½ tsp (7 mL) salt or to taste
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) garam masala
  • ¾ cup (175 mL) cilantro, chopped


Carefully debone cooked chicken, taking care not to shred it.

In a food processor, process chiles and ginger. Add tomatoes with juice and purée until smooth.

In a large saucepan, melt ¼ cup (50 mL) of the butter over medium heat. Add one-third of the chicken and sauté until edges begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Brown remaining 2 batches of chicken in the same manner, adding 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the remaining butter as needed to prevent sticking.

Turn off heat and scrape up all the browned bits. Return to medium-low heat. Melt remaining 2 tbsp (25 mL) of butter. Stir in 4 tsp (20 mL) of the cumin and paprika. Cook, stirring rapidly, for 1 minute.

Pour in tomato mixture and return to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring frequently to allow flavors to blend, about 10 minutes. Add cream, salt, chicken and accumulated juices. Simmer, stirring gently a few times and scraping bottom to prevent burning, until chicken is heated through, 10 to 12 minutes.

Stir in garam masala and remaining cumin. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro and serve.



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Wonderful dish. I suppose like other WASPs, this is one of my favorite dishes. I made the Tandori Chicken with boneless chicken breasts on the grill and used a can of San Marzano tomatoes. I'm new to cooking Indian food and I must admit that this recipe was not at all difficult. Of course it will be easier the second time around. I made her Naan bread along with this dinner. See that review/


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