Punjabi Chicken Tikka Masala

Punjabi Chicken Tikka Masala

March 15, 2015

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Punjabi Chicken Tikka Masala recipe shared by Sarah from RawSpiceBar.

This Punjabi inspired recipe for RawSpiceBar’s February 2015 box is created by Chef Vishwa Mohan of Bin 421 in Vancouver, Canada and incorporates two spice blends (Punjabi Garam Masala & Tandoori Spices) from this month’s spice box.

A balanced blend of Punjabi spices, tender, charred chicken and garlicky ginger tomato sauce served up with rice or naan, chicken tikka masala is the perfect comforting winter dish. However,  the origins of chicken tikka masala are the subject of hot debate. According to legend, a UK chef invented the dish over 50 years ago when a customer complained of the chicken tikka being too dry.  One can of tinned tomato soup later, chicken tikka masala was born.  

Others, more seriously, claim the origins of chicken tikka masala date back to the Mughal period when Mughali chefs served royalty the dish.  According to Delhi’s authoritative street food expert, Rahul Verma, said he first tasted the dish in 1971 and that its origins were Punjabi. “Its basically a Punjabi dish not more than 40-50 years old and must be an accidental discovery which has had periodical improvisations,” he said.

Regardless of its origins, chicken tikka masala has come to be loved the world over, which is why we’re so excited to cook with it using RawSpiceBar Tandoori Spices & Punjabi Garam Masala blends.


Punjabi Chicken Tikka Masala
Author: rawspicebar
Prep Time Cook Time Total Time
40 mins 40 mins 1 hour, 20 mins
Servings: 6-8
  • RawSpiceBar's Tandoori Spices
  • RawSpiceBar's Punjabi Garam Masala
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken
  • 2 onions
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 24 oz canned whole tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp vegetable of canola oil
  • 2 cups thick yogurt (we love using greek yogurt)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Rice or naan, for serving
For the chicken tikka marinade:
  1. Whisk the yogurt in a large bowl. Stick to a thicker yogurt if you can- we love using greek yogurt for tons of flavor and thickness without the fat otherwise a full fat or semi fat yogurt will do.
  2. Chop or crush 3-4 garlic cloves and 1/2 inch ginger in a mortar pestle, food processor or with the back of your knife. Add half of this ginger garlic paste to the yogurt.
  3. Add in RawSpiceBar's tandoori spice blend and blend all ingredients.
  4. Cut and cube chicken, about 1 inch thick. Season generously with salt, and pepper if preferred. Add all cubed chicken, to the yogurt mixture and coat well. Refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least one hour and up to 5 hours.
  5. When the chicken is ready to be cooked, fire up the grill, grill pan or broiler to high heat. Thread the chicken cubes on bamboo or metal skewers and add to very high heat, about 10 minutes until the chicken starts to brown and char. Leave the chicken slightly undercooked in the center, as the chicken will simmer in the sauce under low heat for another 15 minutes and will cook through.
For the masala sauce:
  1. Heat oil or butter in a large dutch oven over medium high heat until hot. Add 1 chopped onion and allow to brown until golden, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add in chopped tomatoes (without the juice)
  3. Add the remaining garlic ginger paste until the raw aroma is gone, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add RawSpiceBar's masala spice blend and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add in remaining tomato juice and reduce heat to medium low.Allow to simmer for 20 minutes until tomatoes cook down. Stir in cream (if using).
  6. Add charred chicken to the sauce and bring to medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add a splash of lemon juice and cilantro to finish. Serve alongside rice or naan.

Recipe Rating: 4 / 5

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For the chicken:

We use boneless, skinless chicken cut into large chunks. One of the key secrets to a good marinade is lots of salt, which allows for better flavor penetration and juice retention. Be sure to allow at least 1 hour to marinate, but up to 3-4 is better. Be sure not to over marinate to prevent the chicken from cooking in its own juices, ceviche style.
Traditional chicken tikka masala is cooked in a tandoor oven at 1,000 degrees fahrenheit for a charred exterior and tender interior. Since most of us don’t have a tandoor oven lying around, we recommend grilling the chicken at very high heat to replicate the charred effect. If you don’t have a grill, a grill pan or broiler is the next best bet. We recommend undercooking the chicken slightly, as adding it to our masala on a slow simmer at the end will finish the chicken without drying it out.

For the masala/sauce:

The sauce should consist of a balance of intense spice flavors, ginger, the freshness of tomatoes and cilantro and the richness of a light cream. We stick to sauce basics here, browning onions, adding in a garlic and ginger paste and RawSpiceBar’s masala spice blends and adding tomatoes until they cook down. For those of you on a health kick in January (that’s us!), we love to make the masala without cream as the intense spice more than make up for the flavor of the dish.
One key to a great chicken tikka masala is a great garlic and ginger paste. If you have a food blender or mortal and pestle, use that. Otherwise chop finely and smash with the back side of your knife for a great paste.

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