Published September 1, 2007.
Chicken tikka masala is the single most popular Indian restaurant dish in the world. Why is it so rarely made at home?
Chicken tikka masala is not an authentic Indian dish—it was invented in a London curry house. Without historical roots, there is no definitive recipe. The variations we found had mushy or dry chicken and sauces that were unbearably rich and/or overspiced.
The promise of a new way to cook chicken with exotic flavors holds plenty of appeal—especially if the recipe can be kept simple and made with readily available ingredients.
To season the bird, we rubbed it with salt, coriander, cumin, and cayenne and refrigerated it for 30 to 60 minutes. Then we dipped it in yogurt mixed with oil, garlic, and ginger. To cook the chicken, we chose to keep this a year-round recipe by using the broiler instead of the grill. And since large pieces don't dry out as quickly as smaller ones under the broiler, we cooked the chicken breasts whole, only cutting them into pieces after cooking. While the chicken was cooking, we made the masala sauce. Masala means "hot spice," and the ingredients in a masala sauce depend on the whim of the cook, although tomatoes and cream are always present. We added onions, ginger, garlic, chile, and a readily available commercial garam masala spice mixture (McCormick won a recent taste test). A little tomato paste and sugar gave our sauce color and sweetness.list of recipes