30-Minute Chicken Tikka Masala

March 14, 2013

30-Minute Chicken Tikka Masala

Spices and aromatics are the very heart of Indian cooking. Flowers, leaves, roots, bark, seeds and bulbs are used in endless combination to produce an infinite variety of flavors: sweet, sharp, hot, sour, spicy, aromatic, tart, mild, fragrant or pungent. 
Masala is a term that identifies a mixture of spices, that can be either a combination of dried spices or a paste made from a mixture of spices and other ingredients.
Chicken tikka is traditionally small piece of boneless chicken baked using skewers.
Chicken tikka masala is therefore a dish of roasted chicken chunks (tikka) in a spicy sauce (masala). The sauce is creamy, spiced, orange-colored and delicious!

30-Minute Chicken Tikka Masala
There are endless variations to chicken tikka masala. If you’re fond of Indian food I’m sure you know a restaurant that serves what you believe to be “the best” chicken tikka masala.
So let’s put things straight. I’m not claiming that this recipe is THE RECIPE for chicken tikka masala, nor that it’s 100% proper Indian. This is a solid recipe for a tasty chicken, low in calories, that can be whipped up in a matter of minutes.
As usual, I made some “IronYou” subs. No butter, no heavy cream, and used free-range organic chicken. Remember to be extra careful when buying chicken, choose only "higher welfare" chicken. None of that nonsense filled with hormones, antibiotics and water. Mkay?

30-Minute Chicken Tikka Masala
30-Minute Chicken Tikka Masala                                                                          Print this recipe!
Adapted from Step-By-Step Indian Cooking

Serves 4 to 6

2 boneless “higher-welfare” chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 medium onion, chopped
1 fully ripe tomato, chopped (or 2 canned tomatoes)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of honey (or brown sugar)
1 1-inch cinnamon stick
juice of ½ lime (or lemon)
1 container 6 oz / 170 gr plain yogurt (use heavy cream for a creamier texture)
water to thin (if needed)


Preheat oven to 450°F (220°C), line a baking sheet with tin foil and lightly brush with olive oil.
Cut the chicken into 1-inch (2.5cm) cubes and thread onto skewers (if you don’t have skewers it’s not a big deal).
Place the skewers (or chicken cubes) onto the lined baking sheet. Place in the preheated oven on the center rack. Bake for 20 minutes, turning skewers over once at the 10 minute mark.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil into a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger and onion and saute’ until the onion is golden brown stirring frequently, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add tomato, cover with a lid and let simmer for 5 minutes stirring every minute or so. The tomato should be combined with onion to form a coarse paste.
Add the cumin seeds, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt and honey (or sugar).
Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. This is the masala (spice mixture).
Transfer the masala (be careful it's hot) to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and pulse until a dense and smooth paste is formed.
Return the paste to the saucepan, add cinnamon stick, lime juice and yogurt. Bring to rolling boil and immediately reduce the heat.
By now the chicken kebabs should be thoroughly cooked. With the help of a fork remove chicken cubes from skewers and add to the masala.
Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve hot!

Nutrition facts

One serving  yields 180 calories, 11 grams of fat, 8.5 grams of carbs and 20.6 grams of protein.


  1. This looks absolutely delicious!! I want to eat it right now. xx. McKenna Lou
    p.s. We have a Michelle Chang jewelry GIVEAWAY on the blog today, check it out. Link: http://www.lynnandlou.com/2013/03/michelle-chang-jewelry.html

  2. I love tikka masala chicken! Since I used to be a teenager my mom always cooked chicken for me this way for lunch/dinner. Together with many spices and basmati rice it was my favorite meal for years. And thanks to it (probably) I never had problems with weight or a need for a diet. Besides, it is so yummy! And as I remember, my mom also didn't use oil for frying, but she used to put water instead, and it worked. Lovely recipe! ;)

  3. Would love to have that right now!

  4. Oh good grief Mike, I want to eat this NOW!!!!

    Looks insanely good. Now suddenly, my lunch, which I had been looking forward to eating all morning, doesn't sound so appealing anymore.

    If I was at home, I would be whipping this up right this minute (with a few minor adjustments...)

    This is getting pinned, for sure! :)

  5. What a ridiculously good looking recipe. And only 180 kcal? That is just awesome. Definite bookmark.

  6. Made the masala sauce (with Greek yogurt) and poured it over lentils and coconut rice. Amazing. Having way too much love for my immersion blender, I tried blending equal parts masala and lentils to make a thick dip and that was also amazing. I imagine it will taste even better tonight than it did last night. Thanks for the recipe :)

  7. I made a couple of your recipes already (e.g. the green pie which has become a summer staple on my menu) but this is SO awesome I had to post a big thank you whilst still eating it (hoping this will stop me from eating the whole batch in one go).

    So: thank you! Love your website (:

    1. Awwww Severina aren't you the sweetest? Thank you for this, you just made my day!

  8. Wow! I cant wait to try this tonight!

  9. Is it ok no to use a cinnamon stick or use cinnamon in place of it? Thanks!

  10. I just made this and it was quick and delicious! But I think 20 minutes might have been a little too long for the chicken. It came out chewy and dry.

  11. Looks great BUT I don't know where I went wrong as mine turned out to be a disaster!!!! Way, way, way too spicy. The lime juice totally over-powered the dish so between that and cayenne pepper the dish was ruined....

    1. I am so sorry it was an utterly disaster. ;(
      As to the spiciness it really depends on how hot are the cayenne pepper and paprika you used (maybe you can try dial it down a tad next time).
      As regards the lime, did you really used only the juice of half lime? I make this all the time and the lime flavor is hardly detectable (more like a subtle after taste)
      I hope you'll give it another try before ditching the recipe completely (and hating me for that matter) ;)

  12. Is there really enough sauce for 4-6?!
    I once tried to heat yogurt in a sauce but it fell into pieces and did not taste good at all. I googled the problem and found, that you best use high fat yogurt and only stir it in to warm a bit, never bring a yogurt sauce to a boil! The problem does not occur in your recipe?

  13. Awesome looking recipe, can this be made with slow cooker also? Chicken curry recipe