I first had chicken tikka masala a couple of years ago at a nice little Indian restaurant near college with some friends. It looked fairly typical. Chicken. Rice. Reddish, orange sauce. Little did I know I was going to have a flavor EXPLOSION in my mouth. Wow, I was in for a delicious surprise.
In very general terms, tikka masala is a tomato and cream based sauce with a slew of spices added. It’s very hard to describe to someone who has never had it but it’s a flavor that you will for sure remember once you have had it. It’s kind of spicy and earthy and warm. Yeah…that was a horrible description. I don’t even know what that means. Needless to say, I am seriously drooling right now and wondering how I can come up with a last minute version of this with what is in my house because we are out of leftovers.
Before I had this dish at that Indian restaurant, I never really even knew what tikka masala was let alone attempt to make it! Now I LOVE to make it and crave it often. As in I crave it every time I am coming up with the weekly menu.
Now, this is for sure not a recipe based off of traditional Indian cooking techniques. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re probably better off somewhere else. I grew up Slovak in a house where pierogi and stuffed cabbage were the menu items, not Indian cuisine. However, I find this dish delicious and packed with flavors similar to what I remember from my first tikka masala experience. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
- 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cubed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon dried cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 can no salt added tomato sauce (14 ounce)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and curry powder. Sear chicken until just cooked through. Remove chicken from the skillet and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add butter to the skillet. When the butter is melted, add the onion and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 1 additional minute. Add the cumin, salt, ginger, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and turmeric. Sauté 2 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and stir in tomato sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in whipping cream, paprika, and sugar. Simmer another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Return chicken to the skillet with the sauce and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve over rice.
- This can get pretty spicy depending on how much cayenne pepper you add. If you do not like it spicy, try using the 1/2 teaspoon (or less) of cayenne pepper. This is definitely best over rice because the rice gets coated in the delicious sauce as well.