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When I was pregnant with my daughter Cassidy waaaaaaay back in 1996, my sister Elena was in an Indian Religion class at Western Michigan University (go Broncos!). For extra credit, she had to go to an Indian restaurant and then write a paper about her experience. She asked me to go with her. I can’t remember exactly what I even ordered or if it was buffet style. All I remember is that I hated it. I kept thinking, “What am I doing to my unborn child?!?!”

Eight years later, I moved from Kalamazoo, MI to Indianapolis, IN where I was working at a large pharmaceutical company as a technical writer. I made a lot of friends there, some of which happened to be Indian. When I told my friend Sharvari  that I did not like Indian food (based on my one time trying it) she insisted it was because I hadn’t had the right Indian food and that I needed to go to the Indian restaurant with her so she could show me what to eat. I reluctantly agreed. We went for lunch one day and she explained what was in each dish so I wouldn’t have to taste blindly. Then she basically told me she was certain that I would like the chicken tikka masala if nothing else. And that’s the story of, “I Was Wrong and I Really, Really Love Indian Food.”

Sharvari was right; chicken tikka masala is my favorite Indian dish. It’s saucy, tangy, savory… A real comfort food. I have tried this in a number of restaurants, I’ve tried some frozen versions, but, of course, homemade is always better. (And cheaper!) So I tried out a few different recipes I’ve come across. I adapted Veronica’s recipe at The Enchanted Cook.

Don’t forget to swing on over to my garlic naan post and make that too! Want to save it for later? Pin it!

Chicken Tikka Masala


  • 2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 28 ounces tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon turmeric ground
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 4 tablespoons butter not margarine
  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken breast cut into large cubes
  • 1 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • rice cooked according to package directions
  • cilantro for garnish


  1. Measure out the yogurt and set aside so it's room temperature when you add it to the pot.

  2. Heat the coconut oil in a dutch oven on medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute.

  3. Add the tomato puree, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, salt, cayenne, cumin seed, coriander, and butter. Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes before adding the raw chicken.

  4. Cook for an additional 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

  5. Add the yogurt and heavy whipping cream and stir to combine.

  6. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.

  7. Optional side item: homemade garlic butter naan.

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