BA’s Best: Chicken Tikka Masala

BA’s Best: Chicken Tikka Masala

Put this meal on your roster of comfort foods and don’t look back. Sure, you can keep your mac and cheese, your pot pie, your chicken noodle soup, but consider how comforting tender morsels of yogurt-marinated chicken smothered in a just-spicy-enough-to-generate-a-subtle-lip-tingle sauce spiked with generous amounts of cream, tomatoes, and spices could be. Now imagine picking up saucy bites between the folds of pillowy naan. Ughhhh, I literally ate curry for a week straight after shooting this post and I’m back to wanting curry at every meal again. You know what kind of food does that to you?  COMFORT FOOD.

A brief word of warning before you get down to it: beware the staining powers of turmeric – that shit is persistent. Your nails will look as though you’ve smoked cigarettes every day for the last 48 years, so commit to washing your hands a few dozen times and roll with it. What are you worried about anyway? It’s not like you’re going out. You are going to eat some CURRY and who needs to go out when you get to curl up with a vat of CURRY and enough naan to upholster an armchair with??

A final note: to make the pickled onions referred to in this recipe, thinly slice 1 small red onion in half through the root, then turn to slice each half into papery thin half-moons. Stuff the sliced onion down into a jar and cover with white wine vinegar. Let sit for at least half an hour, stirring and packing the onions down every 10 minutes or so. Refrigerate for up to a week.

Chicken Tikka Masala

BA’s Best: Chicken Tikka Masala

Taken directly from BA’s Best arsenal, with the most minor of tweaks here and there

Serves 6


6 cloves of garlic, minced or finely grated
4 tsp finely grated ginger root (peeled)
4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp cumin
1 ½ cups 2% plain yogurt (not Greek)
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise
3 tbsp ghee (you can buy this in so many places now! look for it! butter or coconut oil are also acceptable substitutes though)
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
¼ cup tomato paste
6 cardamom pods, crushed (optional)
½ tsp crushed red chile flakes (optional)
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
¾ cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems + more for garnishing
Rice and naan, for serving
Pickled red onions (see pre-amble), for serving


Combine the garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl, stirring to form a coarse paste. Whisk the yogurt, salt, and half of the spice paste in a medium bowl. Add the chicken to the yogurt mix and turn to coat. Cover and chill in the fridge for 3-6 hours. Reserve the remaining spice paste.

Heat the ghee in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, tomato paste, cardamom pods, and chile flakes (if using latter 2 items). Cook, stirring very frequently, until the tomato paste has darkened and the onion is soft. Add the remaining spice paste from before, along with a good pinch of kosher salt, and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Be VERY watchful not to burn the pot when cooking the spices and aromatics down – really keep things moving and be mindful of the heat. Pick out and discard the cardamom pods, if you used them. Add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you go, plus the juices from the can. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook until the sauce thickens, ~8-10 minutes. Add the cream and chopped cilantro leaves/stems. Keep simmering until the sauce thickens considerably, ~30-40 minutes.

While the sauce cooks, preheat the broiler. Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with foil and setting a wire rack inside. Arrange the marinated chicken on the rack in a single layer. Broil directly beneath the element until the chicken is starting to blacken in small patches, anywhere from 10-20 minutes (don’t worry about cooking it through – that’s what the sauce is for). Cut the chicken into large bite-sized pieces, add to the simmering sauce, and cook until the chicken is no longer pink inside (the time will depend on the thickness of your chicken, but will likely be no more than 8 minutes).

Serve the tikka with plenty of rice and naan on the side, garnished with cilantro leaves and pickled red onions. You’re amazing – you know that, right?

Chicken Tikka Masala