Chicken Tikka Masala

When Keith and I were in India last March, we purchased some spices at the open air in Kolkata…spices that have sat in their tidy little packages in our spice rack ever since.  We’ve been meaning to use them, but we just haven’t had the time until yesterday when we had a rare Saturday when we were both in town and we decided that a little Tikka Masala was in order.  I did a little recipe search on the internet and found several…but went with one from (that apparently was also published in the Chicago Tribune on 4/17/02.)


“Chikin” spices from the market in Kolkata.

After we whipped up the marinade, I decided to get started on the sauce while we waited for the flavors to soak into the chicken.  I cut some fresh cilantro from my herb garden and chopped it into little pieces for the garnish.  Next, I took great care to dice the jalapeno into tiny pieces.  Let’s pause for a moment shall we?  Here at we like to pass along, to you, dear readers, any wisdom we pick up along the way so you can learn from our mistakes.  So.  With that in mind, I would be remiss if I neglected to tell you a little story about jalapenos.  And how one should ALWAYS wear gloves when cutting jalapenos.  And how I maybe, possibly, per chance didn’t know this as last night was the first time I’ve ever diced a jalapeno.  If you’re friends with my husband on Facebook or Instagram, you probably know where this is going.

I diced the jalapeno.  I washed my hands with soap and water.  I casually rubbed my nose with my fingers as my allergies have been acting up.  I.  Got. Jalapeno. Oil. In. My. Nose.

I cannot adequately describe to you the  excruciating pain I experienced.  Imagine the worst sunburn you’ve ever had.  Now imagine it in your nostril.  Yeah.  It was that bad.  Fortunately, husband is pretty speedy on the draw when it comes to Googling, and before I knew it he’d found the apparent only cure…sticking your entire nose in a bowl of milk.  (Seriously…what did we DO before Google?)  It took about 10 minutes (and the addition of milk-soaked cotton balls stuffed in my nostrils while the rest of my head still rested in a large bowl of milk) for the searing burning to subside…and my sinuses were quite clean the rest of the evening.  The moral of the story, dear readers, is “Always wear gloves when cutting jalapenos.”


Face down in a bowl of milk. Too bad you can’t see the milk-logged cotton balls in my nose. Misery, thy name is jalepeno-oil-rubbed-sinuses.

So.  Now.  Back to the recipe.  I’ve posted it below (as always) with my notes in green.  (Or you can view the original recipe by clicking through the link at the top of the page.)  It was fantastic.  Easy to follow.  It takes about 2 hours total to make….30 minutes prep time, 1 hour to marinate, 30 minutes to cook.  While I’m sure it wasn’t “hot” by Indian standards, the recipe for sure had some heat.  Keith thought it landed at “perfect” on the spicy-o-meter….I probably could have taken it down one notch and still been happy with the flavor…but I just ate mine with a healthy portion of store bought naan (an Indian bread similar to pita bread or chapati) and the bread cut the temperature.  (The recipe calls for 1 jalapeno…..I’d suggest 1/2 a jalapeno for a milder flavor and 1.5 jalapenos for an authentic Indian level ultra hot.)  And to whet your appetite…I’ve included a few photos.

Garlic, butter and the now infamous jalapeno simmering on the stovetop!

Garlic, butter and the now infamous jalapeno simmering on the stove top!

Chicken skewers hot off the grill and ready to go in the sauce!

Chicken skewers hot off the grill and ready to go in the sauce!

Simmering on the stove.   Mmmmmm.

Simmering on the stove. Mmmmmm.

Served on top of thai rice, garnished with fresh cilantro and a side of naan.  One of my favorite home-made meals to date.

Served on top of thai rice, garnished with fresh cilantro and a side of naan. One of my favorite home-made meals to date.

Chicken Tikka Masala

1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken, cut in 1 inch cubes
approx 6 bamboo skewers (6-inch)

1 cup plain yogurt     [Note: I used plain old plain yogurt.  Not Greek, not lowfat, just straight up yogurt.]
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 piece minced ginger (1-inchinch” long)


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander     [Note: I left out the coriander because I didn’t want to make a grocery run.]
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala  [Note:I used the spices I bought which I’m *pretty sure* are  garam masala.  I’d suggest finding a local international grocery to purchase yours, or  the recipe suggests that you can make your own or that McCormick brand spices makes a version available in most grocery stores.]
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1) Cut chicken breasts into one inch cubes and mix together marinade.
2) Put cubes of chicken in marinade and marinate (in the refrigerator) for an hour or so.
3) Discard marinade.
4) For sauce, melt butter on medium heat.
5) Add garlic & jalapeno; cook 1 minute.
6) Stir in coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala & salt.
7) Stir in tomato sauce.
8 )Simmer 15 minutes.
9) Stir in cream; simmer to thicken- about 5 minutes.
10) Grill or broil chicken, turning occasionally, to cook through- about 8 minutes. [we grilled on our outdoor grill]
11) Remove chicken from skewers; add to sauce.
12) Simmer 5 minutes.
13) Garnish with cilantro Serve with basmati rice, naan or pita bread.


Also, in case you haven’t noticed, we now have a “Recipe File” at the top right-hand corner of the blog where we’ve categorized all our tasty concoctions so you can find the perfect recipe easily, no matter what you’re looking for.


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About bethanybordeaux

I fiddle around a bit.

2 responses to “Chicken Tikka Masala”

  1. Anonymous says :

    Momma Daniel here! Oh, I can’t imagine what you must have experienced – and hope I never find out! By the way, when you cook some for me sometime, just make that WITHOUT jalapenos.

    P.S. What is that stuff that looks like a pile of seaweed on your patio?

    • bethanybordeaux says :

      Yes! I think you would like the flavor a lot if I left out the “heat”. 🙂

      And I’m embarrassed to say that’s a pile of leaves I keep neglecting to sweep up.

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