How could I blog about my last trip to London and the two great dining experiences I had at Hoppers and Dishoom and not leave you with my recipe for yummy chicken tikka masala?

In my opinion, chicken tikka masala is the perfect introductory dish to Indian cuisine. It’s incredibly flavorful and rich, and pairs well with either basmati rice or naan, an Indian flatbread eaten with the hands.

In fact, chicken tikka masala is so beloved even beyond its south Asian borders that it’s been declared the national dish of Britain (though Anthony Bourdain seems to think otherwise). What I love about this dish is how versatile it can be: for my pop-up episode 2 in Houston, I served it over Frito chips with a sprinkling of Monterrey Jack cheese for an Indian-inspired Texas Frito pie. On an episode of MasterChef season 3, my team served it wrapped in naan out of a food truck on Venice Beach. Try it the traditional way first, and then be inspired to cross-breed it with other cuisines and come up with new dishes that are sure to excite even your least gastronomically adventurous friends.

Recipe: Chicken Tikka Masala

Notes: The true way to prepare this dish would be to cook the chicken on the grill, but sometimes the outdoor elements just aren’t in your favor. That’s why I offer two methods to cook the chicken: in the oven or on the stove. Both of these methods will still produce similar results (read: it’ll still taste damn delicious). Serve over steamed basmati rice and/or with naan.


  • 4 tsp cumin seeds, toasted & grounded, or ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 tbsp ground paprika
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted & grounded, or ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 c yogurt
  • 1 lemon, juiced & divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced & divided
  • 1-1/2 tbsp freshly grated ginger, divided
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter or unsalted butter
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (14 ozs) can whole tomatoes or 1-1/2 c tomato sauce
  • 1/2 c chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 c heavy cream


  1. Make garam masala: In a small bowl, whisk together cumin, paprika, ground coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and cinnamon.
  2. Marinate chicken: In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 the garlic, 1/2 the ginger, 2/3 the garam masala, and salt & pepper to taste. Add chicken, turning to coat. Cover and chill for 1 to 4h.
  3. Make sauce: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter and sauté onion until tender. Stir in remaining garlic and ginger; sauté until fragrant. Add tomatoes, 1/4 c cilantro, and remaining garam masala; season with salt. Lower heat and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, approx 20m.
  4. Cook chicken by grilling: Preheat grill to high heat and brush oil on grates. Shake off excess marinade, skewer chicken, and grill until just cooked through, approx 10m, turning halfway through.
  5. Cook chicken in oven: Shake off excess marinade, skewer chicken, and broil until just cooked through, approx 8 to 15m, turning halfway through.
  6. Cook chicken on stove: In a sauté pan over high heat, heat oil, shake off excess marinade, and sear chicken on all sides until just cooked through.
  7. Finish chicken in sauce: Purée sauce and add remaining 1 tbsp lemon juice, chicken, and cream. Simmer for 10m, stirring occasionally.
  8. Garnish with remaining 1/4 c cilantro and serve over basmati rice or with naan.

Active time: 45m
Total time: 1h 45m
Yields: 4 servings

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5 Discussion to this post

  1. homeinsurance says:

    One of best cuisine of Indian recipe.

  2. John says:

    Good Day Ms Christine! I just wanted to ask if I can skip the cinnamon on the recipe and if its not gonna affect the taste and aroma too much. Its just one of my friends are allergic to it. Or is there any substitute for cinnamon.

    • Christine Ha says:

      Sure, omit the cinnamon. It wouldn’t sacrifice TOO much flavor as the dish is pretty well-spiced already. Better than having a sick friend at your table! Happy cooking.

      • John says:

        Awesome! Thanks Ms Christine! Excited to cook tomorrow after work. By the way is there any pop-ups happening any time soon in the Houston area?

        • Christine Ha says:

          Thanks for asking, John! I don’t currently have a pop-up scheduled, but I’ve been in conversation with some folks in Houston about doing an upcoming collaboration. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, happy cooking! Would love for you to let me know how the dish turned out: take a photo and tag me in it on Instagram at @theblindcook or Facebook at

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