It’s clear I like to cook. I mean, I have a food blog and all. But sometimes guys, I really don’t want to cook. I mean, really. This doesn’t necessarily mean I want to go out to eat or get take out.  This usually means I’m craving a dinner that consists solely of bread and cheese, olives, and perhaps some cured meats.  These cravings usually hit on Fridays, after I’ve been making dinner all week and can’t bear to clean another dish. I just want to sink into the couch with a glass of wine and nosh away until I’m full.

Like clock work, this Friday afternoon I had zero energy to make dinner. Friday afternoon also happened to be the day I went grocery shopping, so I filled my cart with a handful of items that required little more than defrosting (read Trader Joe’s frozen edamame and vegetable dumplings).  I also picked up some items that did require cooking, knowing that my funk would likely pass in a day or two.

As I was walking back from the subway, I saw I had a missed call from Brandon, followed by a text message saying he had some requests for items from the store. I called and explained that I was just a few blocks from home, and started to rattle off all the food he likes and that not to worry- I had actually picked them up. He stopped me halfway and said that was nice and all, but he had plans to cook and needed chicken. He was making Chicken Tikka Masala for dinner. This news was music to my ears. The only thing better than my cheese plate dinner is having someone else cook for me. And Indian food? Something I hardly ever cook myself?  Yes, please! Luckily I had included chicken breast in our groceries for the week, so his dinner plans were good to go.

If cooking Indian food at home seems daunting, I urge you, start with something like Chicken Tikka Masala. There are a number of ingredients and spices, but it’s really simple to prepare you’ll those spices time and again for every Indian style dish you prepare.  This recipe makes a ton of food, perfect for a dinner party and having lots of leftovers.  It can also be made a day ahead, making it even more perfect for a dinner party.  See the recipe for instructions on how to prepare it that way.  Enjoy!

Chicken Tikka Masala adapted from All Recipes
Serves 6

For the chicken marinade:

  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces (about 1 lb)
  • 4 drumsticks, skin removed (about 3/4 lb, or can sub out with 2 more chicken breasts)

For the sauce:

  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the chicken marinade.  Stir in chicken, cover with saran wrap, and let marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.

During the last half hour of marinating, prepare the sauce. Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pot over medium low heat. Add in the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add in all spices, stirring to combine, followed by the tomato sauce and heavy cream. Stir to combine. Simmer over low heat for roughly 20 minutes until sauce has thickened.

Preheat your oven to broil. Place your top rack in the highest position. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Once done marinating, place the chicken on the baking sheet. Place under the broiler and cook for 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven, flip chicken and cook for an additional five minutes. Remove chicken from pan* and place in sauce. Simmer for an additional ten minutes. Serve chicken over basmati rice and top with chopped cilantro.**

*Please note- if you’re cooking drumsticks, they’ll need a bit more (3-5 minutes) to cook. You can also do without the drum sticks and use 4 chicken breasts (about 2 lbs total of chicken).  We plan on doing just chicken breasts the next time, but either way is delicious!

** If you’re making the dish ahead, cook the chicken and prepare the sauce the day before, and store separately.  Once ready to serve, heat the sauce in a large pan over medium low heat. Once heated stir in the chicken and simmer for 15 minutes until chicken is heated through.


  1. I have to admit i rarely cook indian because when i look at the ingredient list it looks like so much work. But if someone wants to make it for me i can easily be talked in to it…. :)

  2. Actually, this looks pretty easy, and since it’s one of my all-time favorite dishes, I’m going to try it soon!

  3. I love Indian food but have always felt too intimidated to cook it myself (other than really simple lentil dishes). This looks amazing! And I think I have all of these ingredients in my kitchen to boot. Score!

    • Perfect! Love when that happens :).

      • Sue

        I am an Indian and moved to the US a couple of years ago. I was like everyone else who has commented- scared and daunted to touch indian food. I wanted to eat a dish very particular to a small region in India - Mangalore- I called my mum, aunt and then went on the web. and voila I realised that indian cooking is not every difficult esp mangalorean dishes. When you see all long list of spices on the recipe it is a good thing coz it means that you are making fresh spices for the dish and the aroma is so different from the packaged masalas you get from the stores.
        If you feel like trying a new dish this is one of my fav go to website for indian - specially south indian- food

  4. I love cooking Indian food, but have never made tikka masala. I’ll definitely have to make this! Beautiful pictures too :o)

  5. Sarah

    I never made indian food either (like the folks commenting above) until I started at Kendall College Culinary School….now I can easily make about 4 great dishes. I will tell you though, they aren’t hard to master. Getting the right spice and flavor takes time, but once you have it down it’s pretty easy. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  6. This looks delicious. I will definitely try it and let you know. :)

    Thanks for sharing it.

  7. LB

    Just made this tonight and it was amazing! Thanks so much! :)

    • LB

      Oh and I forgot to mention, our oven is broken at the moment but the stovetop does work plus I found this recipe like an hour before we wanted to eat so I only marinated the chicken for about 30 mins and then cooked the chicken in a skillet on the stove and added the sauce once it was cooked. We also did not have heavy cream so we used a mixture of about half and half sour cream and skim milk as a substitute. It worked out great so if anyone else has these kind of set backs, those remedies worked great!

  8. Nicole Evon

    I made this over the weekend for my husband & myself - we’re both recovering from colds & love Indian food, so I thought a spicy treat would do us good on a couple of levels. It made us happy & cleared the sinuses :)
    I used only cubed chicken breast, although I may add some drumsticks next time just to add a little variety. I marinated the chicken for about 2 hours & followed the broiling step exactly, but did simmer it a little longer for a more slow-cooked texture. We were both really pleased with the end result - very similar to what we get from our favorite Indian spot. I screwed up a little by using spicy mexican tomato sauce for extra heat, forgetting that the stuff is pretty salty own it’s own. The end result was saltier than we normally eat, but nowhere near ruined. Just check the sodium content of your tomato sauce before adding the recommended amount of salt (not a flaw in the recipe, obviously). I’m adding this one into our regular meal rotation. Thank you!

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