Do you want to make a meal that tastes like delicious dine-in, but that has the health benefits of homemade ingredients? Look no further than this Chicken Tikka Masala.
Tender chicken cooked with aromatic spices will bring back memories of your favorite Indian restaurant. Or maybe it will remind you of a visit to the UK? The origin of chicken tikka masala is somewhat murky, but one thing is for sure: the flavor of this spicy, creamy dish is out of this world.
What is Tikka Masala?
Tikka Masala has an interesting history. Chicken tikka, originated in the Punjab region of India, and is very popular in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Tikka involves cooking a type of boneless meat in spices and yogurt and cutting it into little cubes or pieces. The meat is cooked in a tandoor, which is a clay oven. (1)
Chicken tikka is not to be confused with chicken tikka masala, which is actually a different dish altogether. Perhaps inspired by the Indian tikka, chicken tikka masala is thought to have originated in an Indian restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland. (2)
Chicken tikka masala incorporates elements from chicken tikka, with the yogurt and spices used, but the tomato sauce has an added ingredient of cream or coconut cream. Reportedly, the cream was added to a curry dish that was dry.
The masala spices include (but are not limited to) black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, curry, cardamom and cumin. With this chicken tikka masala recipe, I’ve kept all the elements that are essential to chicken masala, but with some upgraded ingredients.
How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala
First, you’ll start with marinating the chicken. I used goat yogurt, lemon juice, avocado oil and garlic as a marinade base. The acid from goat yogurt and lemon juice help tenderize the chicken breasts while you prepare the sauce.
Avocado oil works well in high heat, which makes it perfect for marinating and cooking the chicken in a pan. I chose goat yogurt over cow’s milk yogurt because goat’s milk is much easier to digest, not to mention all the benefits it provides to your gut. Mix the marinade ingredients in a dish and add the chicken and let sit while you prepare the rest of the tikka masala sauce.
Prepare brown basmati rice in a pot according to its package. Brown basmati rice is a fragrant rice that actually contains 20 percent more fiber than regular brown rice. (3) It is mainly grown in India and Pakistan and makes a perfect pairing with Indian food recipes. To prepare the sauce, melt grass-fed butter in a large saucepan. Add in chopped onion and sauté for 5–7 minutes.
Add all the spices in with the cooked onion: coriander, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, paprika, cayenne pepper and ground ginger.
Did you know that coriander helps lower blood sugar? It is the dried seed of the fresh herb cilantro, which makes sense that it would have such a strong flavor. Cardamom is favorable for blood pressure and supporting your digestive system.
Add in crushed tomatoes along with coconut cream, and let the sauce thicken up while you cook the chicken.
Heat up some avocado oil in a separate pan over medium-high heat. Cook the marinated chicken breasts for 8–10 on each side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 F.
Once the chicken is cooked through, cut the chicken into smaller bite size pieces. Add chicken to the masala sauce.
Serve brown basmati rice with the chicken tikka masala sauce and garnish with fresh, benefit-rich cilantro.
- ¼ cup goat yogurt
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil, plus additional for cooking
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 pound organic chicken breast
- 1 cup brown basmati rice
- 4 tablespoons grass-fed butter
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 1½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1½ cups crushed tomatoes
- ½ cup coconut cream
- Himalayan pink salt, to taste
- cilantro, for garnish
- In a small bowl, mix together goat yogurt, lemon juice, avocado oil and minced garlic.
- Add chicken breasts to a baking dish and pour marinade over the chicken. Set dish aside in the refrigerator.
- Prepare rice according to package.
- In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.
- Add in chopped onion and sauté for 5–7 minutes.
- Add in all the spices: coriander, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, paprika, cayenne pepper, ground ginger and Himalayan pink salt.
- Add in crushed tomatoes and coconut cream and continue stirring, letting the sauce thicken up.
- In a large pan, add avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add marinated chicken to the pan and cook on each side for 6–8 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 F.
- Once chicken is cooked through, slice into chunks onto a cutting board and add to masala sauce.
- Serve chicken tikka masala over cooked brown basmati rice and garnish with chopped cilantro.