Chicken tikka masala is a popular Indian dish with disputed origins. It’s uncertain whether the dish originates from India or the UK. The extreme popularity of the dish in the UK definitely supports theories that the dish originated there.
Regardless of origin, it’s a great, satisfying dish that is easy to make at home. From start to finish, it is relatively labour-intensive as there are many steps to follow. However, none of these are particularly difficult. It just takes some planning. You’re not going to whip up chicken tikka masala as a weeknight meal.
The first step involves repairing tandoori chicken using chicken thighs. This Fine Cooking recipe calls for bone-in chicken thighs, but I often make this dish with boneless chicken thighs to save some work. (Cooking meat on the bone is always better, but in this case, I feel you can get away with boneless.) The tandoori chicken comes together easily–just combine some spices in plain yogurt, let marinate, then cook in the oven. Plan to do this the day before you want to make the chicken tikka masala if you don’t want to be cooking all day.
The process for finally bringing together the chicken tikka masala involves a few steps, but none of them complicated. The chicken is cut into chunks and pan-fried in butter until golden to enhance its flavour. It is then simmered in a puréed tomato mixture with cream and spices. Once its nicely thickened, it’s ready to serve, either with rice or naan.
Chicken tikka masala makes excellent leftovers, as the flavours actually improve from when chilled overnight and reheated.