Chicken tikka masala

Hello all,

For a long time now, I’ve heard about chicken tikka masala, an Indian dish developed in England that is super-popular over there. I attempted to make my own last night, so I’m hoping someone can tell me if I was even close. I got six chicken thighs and soaked them in a water/vinegar/salt solution for an hour or so, then rinsed them off. I made a paste out of plain yogurt and the contents of a packet of tikka masala seasoning I got from the Indian grocery store, which was red-orange in color and extremely hot. I dipped each chicken thigh in the paste, and let them sit in the fridge for a while. Then I grilled them on the outdoor grill, skins and all. They came out tasty, but even I, who love spicy food, was surprised by how spicy the tikka masala paste was. I made some brown rice and red beans (from a can) to go with it, since I didn’t have anything else distinctly Indian. It was a decent meal, but is the real chicken tikka masala anything like what I made?

I’m no expert in Indian Food, but I don’t think I’ve ever had tikka masala that was as hot as you describe. I made some recently, using an envelope of spices. The finished product called for cream to be stirred in. I opted to use yogurt instead. It was VERY spicy before I added the yogurt. Once I stirred in the yogurt, it was very mellow and yummy.

Well, that’s just chicken tikka. Chicken tikka mossala comes in a thick red sauce. The story goes that a diner at an Indian restaurant in Glasgow ordered Chiken Tikka, but thought it was too dry and wanted gravy with it, so the cooks whipped up a sauce with what they had to hand.

The tikka part refers to the hot spices in which the chicken is cooked (as you described above), while the masala part refers to the creamy, milder sauce that the dish is served in/with. It is still to hot for my korma-esque palette - give me time, I’ve only lived here 5 years… :slight_smile:

A recipe from the BBC’s website


OK, I probably described it badly. The yogurt definitely helped make it milder, but because I brushed the yogurt-based paste on as the chicken was on the grill, I didn’t really have a “sauce” by the time they were done. It was really good, though.

As WotNot says, you were missing the masala element, although you probably still had a very tasty meal. A typical restaurant Tikka Masala has a lot of sauce. And a decent one will have had chicken marinaded for a long time - you cut through the chunks of meat (it’s alway diced) and you see the colour of the marinade penetrating through the flesh.

Pilau rice is the default British option - an easy way to replicate some of the flavour of this without the hassle is to cook plain basmatic rice, with added to the water a couple of cardoman pods, a piece of cinnamon, a bay leaf and some peppercorns.

And while it’s true they’re generally a non-spicy option (the kind of thing you order for your mum), I’ve had a couple of fairly potent ones.

I believe the grilling part is inauthentic. It should be cooked like a curry or stew.

Ah, my ignorance is being fought. I just followed the directions on the box, though. I also bought a jar of reddish-brown tandoori sauce, to use another time!

You just made tandoori chicken. After grilling you have to cook it in a heavy cream sauce. The chicken is steeped in the cream sauce and the tandoor flavour then goes into the sauce.

The spiciness varies with how much tandoori paste you apply to the chicken. To tone down the heat marinate it in yoghurt and tandoori paste before grilling.

Probably an unfortuante occasion when ‘what’s on the box’ is just plain wrong - if a dish was invented in Scotland, exported back to India, then acquired with the intention of selling it to America, it’s hardly surprising that a few changes occured along the way!

Bumping this older thread of mine back up, I am now making chicken tandoori, following the directions on the jar of tandoori sauce I bought at the Indian grocery store. I am marinating the boneless skinless chicken breasts in a mixture of the tandoori sauce and plain yogurt, and I intend to let them marinate for a good while. The jar directions say I can either grill them or bake them in the oven. Which would come out better, do you think?

I’d fully preheat the oven and a heavy baking tray, and place the chicken on that. That’s about as close as you can get to the way it cooks inside a tandoor.