Many people have told us, “Go for it, you won’t be able to go wrong with Indian cuisine!” We weren’t actually buying that though, until we made our first leap out of the box, and on to the field. You can probably guess what we attempted first (if the title didn’t give it away). Of course, it had to be chicken tikka masala.
Surprisingly, it didn’t take us long to figure out that what people had been saying to us was actually true.
Is Chicken Tikka Masala Indian?
To many people, it might be an astonishing fact that despite an Indian-ish name, chicken tikka masala has been acknowledged as “The true natural dish of Britain” for decades. Although the origin of chicken tikka masala is still in dispute, we found some interesting history around it..
Back in the 17th century, due to population growth, India witnessed an increase in agricultural production, one of which was the rise of breeding farms. More chickens meant more chicken dishes came to the family table, including chicken tikka.
It wasn’t until much later— during British rule, to be specific— that British cuisine adopted the dish. But it was only after the 1950s that chicken tikka officially travelled almost 5000 miles to go viral in the UK.
Carry on to the 1960s when a British chef decided to add yogurt, more spices, and even tomato to the dish to prevent dryness. Unintentionally, the dish became even more delicious. That was when it was finally westernized with today’s name, “chicken tikka masala”.
Is Chicken Tikka Masala Healthy?
Chicken tikka masala may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think “healthy”. However, that is more due to the prep and food-flavoring materials that the chefs favor, rather than the essential ingredients.
Packed with lean protein, chicken breasts in general are great for weight loss. Chicken tikka masala is not an exception. In fact, four ounces of raw, skinless, and boneless chicken breasts can provide 136 calories and 25.4 grams of protein.
As protein is an ultimate metabolism booster, your body will naturally burn more extra calories when it is digested.
What Is in The Masala Sauce?
Tikka masala sauce is a cream-based sauce made with onion, butter, tomato paste, garlic, and ginger. Like other curries you may be more familiar with, it also has an inimitable yellow color and a spicy aroma.
The tomato sauce to heavy cream ratio is what decides the overall color and consistency of the masala sauce. In this recipe, we set the ratio at 2:1, tasty and healthy!
What is The Difference Between Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala?
Chicken tikka masala and butter chicken are often mistaken for each other as they both call for a tomato sauce base.
Both dishes are Indian-inspired. However, if you’re a frequent guest at authentic restaurants in town, you will be able to spot the differences between these two.
Butter chicken is a curry. Its sauce is generally creamier than tikka masal. As suggested in the name, the word “butter” refers to the fatty and greasy mouthfeel that each bite leaves.
Chicken tikka masala, on the other hand, is more tangy and intense in taste. Obviously you can alter the level of heat and it often varies depending on who is making it. In general, chicken tikka comes with more notes of flavor with heaps of spices and dried herbs in the mix.
Lastly, while most chicken tikka masala recipes use boneless chicken (and sometimes skinless), butter chicken recipes prefer bone-in chicken pieces. Though, as time goes on, many variations have been created, and the matter of having bones or not isn’t that big of a deal anymore.
What to Serve with Chicken Tikka Masala?
If you are not overly familiar with Indian cuisine or making it at home, it can be tricky to know what to pair with it. Here’s a little one-stop shop of side dishes for chicken tikka masala.
The simplest options are either bread or rice. Bread is the ingenious choice for dishes with savory sauces, so it works well with chicken tikka masala.
Rice is such a versatile ingredient and seems to go well with every cuisine. White, brown, wild, coconut or infused— you pick what you fancy to complete this fantastic dish. In this recipe, we chose to eat chicken tikka with hot steamed long-grain rice (as images have shown), alongside a pico de gallo as a side dish.
Above is how we created a whole meal with chicken tikka masala so it adheres to our healthy limits. If you’re a fan of chicken dishes, I’m pretty sure you’ll love this chicken shawarma recipe. Be sure to also pay a visit to our best chicken recipes, too. We hope you’ll have a good time cooking!
Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
- 10 oz skinless boneless chicken breast cut into chunks
- 3/4 tsp salt divided
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper divided
- 3 tsp coriander powder divided
- 1 tsp almond powder
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon divided
- 3 tsp paprika divided
- 4 tsp garlic powder divided
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp ginger powder divided
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin powder divided
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8 oz onion sliced into strips
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp Hunt’s tomato paste
- 6 oz green bell pepper sliced into strips
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 cup homemade tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp fresh coriander chopped
- 3 cups cooked long grain rice
- Preheat the oven to 400℉.
- In a large bowl, combine the chicken chunks with a marinade made of: 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon of coriander powder, almond powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder, chili powder, lemon juice, and Greek yogurt.
- Toss to coat evenly. Let marinate for 15 minutes.
- Bake the chicken: Transfer the marinated chicken to a baking tray, and brush with olive oil. Bake at 400℉ for 10 minutes. You can start on the sauce while it is baking. When the timer goes off, remove and set aside.
- While waiting for the chicken to bake, make the sauce. Heat a cast-iron pan on medium heat and add in the following ingredients successively: onion, butter, tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder. Stir around for a minute.
- Continue to add to the pan: green bell pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of cumin powder, garam masala, 2 teaspoons of paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons of coriander powder. Stir them around for a minute.
- Next, add tomato sauce and water to the pan, let it simmer for 3 minutes, stir frequently.
- Add the baked chicken chunks into the pan, mix together with the sauce. Let simmer for 3 minutes.
- Lastly, pour heavy cream and coconut milk into the pan, whisk them well to combine with the rest.
- Sprinkle fresh chopped coriander on top and serve immediately with hot steamed rice.