Serious Eats Chicken Tikka Masala - Maybe the Best

Recipe by KateL
READY IN: 5hrs




  • Place the chicken pieces on a cutting board with flesh-side up. Score deeply at 1-inch intervals with a sharp knife. Pat dry and place in a large rimmed non-reactive baking dish.
  • Combine cumin, paprika, coriander, turmeric and cayenne in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside 3 tablespoons of spice mixture (for Step 10).
  • Combine remaining 6 tablespoons of spice mixture, 8 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons ginger, yogurt, 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine (or process all in food processor).
  • Pour marinade all over chicken pieces, using hands to coat every surface. Cover loosely and refrigerate. Refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours, turning occasionally.
  • SAUCE:
  • Meanwhile, heat ghee or butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until melted and foaming subsides.
  • In clean food processor, pulse garlic to yield 4 tablespoons (or crush in a garlic press). Remove excess of garlic from food processor and add about 2 inches fresh gingerroot cut in small chunks, and pulse until finely grated.
  • Add onions and garlic-ginger mix to the Dutch oven. Cook, stirring frequently, until dark and beginning to char in spots, about 10 minutes.
  • Add reserved spice mixture from Step 3. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add tomatoes and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan with a spoon.
  • Simmer sauce for 15 minutes, then puree using a hand blender or by transferring to a tabletop blender in batches. (If you use a VitaMix, you will not need to allow the sauce to cool off first.)
  • Stir in cream and remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, then set aside until chicken is cooked.
  • Light 1 chimney full of charcoal. When all of the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over half of a coal grate.
  • Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes.
  • Clean and oil the grilling grate. (I recommend a GrillGrate.).
  • Wipe excess marinade off chicken and place over hot side of grill, flesh-side down.
  • Grill without moving until well charred, 5-7 minutes.
  • Flip chicken and cook until second side is charred, 4-5 minutes. (Chicken will not be completely cooked through, which is okay). Transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest 10 minutes.
  • Line a broiler pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and preheat the broiler to high with the rack set 6 inches below broiler element.
  • Wipe excess marinade off chicken and place on foil-lined pan, flesh side up. Broil until charred an blackened on surface, about 8 minutes (but if you have a professional oven broiler, it may take much less time). (Chicken will not be completely cooked through, which is okay.) Transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest 10 minutes.
  • Remove chicken from bone using a sharp knife and cut into rough bite-sized chunks.
  • Transfer chicken chunks to pot of sauce.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is just cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves.
  • Serve immediately with rice or grilled naan.