Restaurant chicken tikka masala is one of the most popular Indian restaurant dish going. Creamy. A little bit sweet. A little bit savory. It has something going on for everyone.
I think it’s funny that restaurant chicken tikka masala isn’t an Indian dish at all. It was invented in the UK some time in the early 1970s.
The best story around this dish is that it was invented in Glasgow when a bus driver complained that his curry wasn’t saucy enough. The chef, who was eating tomato soup at the time, tossed some of his soup in the curry and sent it back out to the bus driver. The rest is history.
There’s no tomato soup in this recipe. Please don’t do that. I know there are recipes out there that use tomato soup, garam masala and cream. That’s Indian spiced cream of tomato soup with chicken. I know that’s how the story goes but it has evolved. Improved. If your local Indian restaurant is serving something that tastes like soup it’s time to find a new restaurant.
It’s a mild curry. One suitable for the most timid palates. You can make restaurant style chicken tikka masala for your kids. Or as a counterpoint to spicier dishes. It’s a crowd pleaser for sure.
Layering flavours is key. The chicken is first cooked in tandoori spice and then finished in a tomato cream sauce. Hints of coconut and almond and a bit of sugar round it out.
This chicken tikka masala is pretty straightforward and follows the Indian restaurant technique exactly. Do yourself a favour and read that post first. There are pictures to help you understand.
Do your prep before you get started. Make your curry base and have some heated and ready to go. Pre-cook your meat. Measure out your ingredients. Put on some old clothes – the curry sputters.
Most of the curries I post can be made with just about anything – lamb, chicken, beef or even vegetables. Restaurant chicken tikka masala – chicken is in the name so do what you want but…
Try this one if you love restaurant chicken tikka masala. Or if you are just getting into learning Indian restaurant cooking. It’s a great place to start.
Restaurant chicken tikka masala is a mild, tangy curry with a hint of coconut and almond.
- 4-5 boneless chicken thighs or two chicken breasts
- 2 Tbsp tandoori masala powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3-4 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tsp garlic ginger paste - recipe link below
- 2 tsp Indian restaurant spice mix - recipe link below
- 1 Tbsp tandoori masala powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste diluted in 2 Tbsp water
- 15 oz curry base - recipe link below
- 3 Tbsp coconut powder
- 1 Tbsp almond flour
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup whipping cream 35%
- juice of 1/6 lemon
- Pre-heat your oven to 400F.
- Combine 2 Tbsp tandoori masala powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 3-4 Tbsp vegetable oil in a bowl that won't stain. Cut the chicken into big bite size pieces and combine with marinade. Let stand briefly.- or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
- Transfer chicken to a sturdy cookie sheet and roast until it reaches an internal temperature of about 165F, about 15 minutes.
- Combine curry powder, tandoori masala and salt in a small bowl.
- Combine the almond and coconut powder with enough water to get to the texture of coconut milk or heavy cream.
- Dilute the tomato paste with enough water to get to the consistency of passata.
- Heat your frying pan (don't use non-stick) briefly over medium heat. Add 3 Tbsp vegetable oil. Use all the oil specified. It's important.
- When the oil starts to shimmer add the garlic ginger paste. Cook it, stirring constantly, until it stops sputtering.
- Turn down the heat and add the spice mix. This is the critical step. Stir it constantly for 30 seconds. If it starts to darken lift the pan off the heat. You want the spice mix to cook in the oil but not burn.
- Turn the heat up to medium high. Add the diluted tomato paste and stir until bubbles form (the oil will likely separate). This takes around 30 seconds to one minute depending on the heat.
- Add 3 oz of curry base. Stir until bubbles form (little craters really), around 30 seconds. Watch the edges of the pan. The curry can stick here.
- Now add 6 oz of curry base and stir briefly. Let it cook until the bubbles form again. This takes 1-2 minutes.
- Add the rest of the curry base and let cook until the bubbles form. Turn the heat down to low and add the pre-cooked chicken, coconut almond mixture and sugar.
- Let the curry simmer for about 5 minutes. If it gets too thick add a bit more curry base. Don't add water.
- Add the cream and stir. Mix in the lemon juice, garnish with a bit of chopped fresh coriander if you like and serve.
Tandoori masala powder is available in any Indian grocery.
The recipe for curry base is here.
The recipe for indian restaurant spice mix is here.
The recipe for garlic ginger paste is here.
If you haven't read about Indian restaurant technique yet, do that before you start cooking.
Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go.
If you are making multiple curries, have your curry base warming in a pot on the stove. If you are just making one, microwave it to warm it up right before you start cooking.