Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe (Dairy Free)

Chicken Tikka Masala

This past week Florida has been experiencing some unusual cold weather. Temperatures rarely drop below 40-50 degrees F during winters. Sometimes, we don’t even participate for winter like we did the previous year. But as of lately, it has been getting down to 30’s and 20 degrees F if you’re more in the northern area or panhandle. This cooler weather is nice for a change since summers are all year-long and they can be quite uncomfortable because of the humidity. Especially during Irma when many of us lost power for weeks.

Anyways, I was running low on groceries this week since I didn’t have the time to go shopping for food. As I was deciding on what I should make for dinner, I saw that I had some boneless chicken thighs and all of the ingredients that I needed to make tikka masala. Since Florida decided to make winter happen for a short amount of time, I had to take advantage of it. So, I figured that curry would be the perfect candidate for the occasion.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Tikka refers to pieces of meat or vegetables. Masala refers to mixture of spices. Chicken tikka is an Indian dish but the masala was added later on to satisfy the British’s love affair for gravies and sauces. Some believe tikka masala was invented in India, others claim it’s from the United Kingdom. Although the place of origin of this dish is unclear, it has the flavor profile and spice of traditional Indian cuisine. It has now become the national dish of Britain.

The marinated chucks of chicken is traditionally cooked in a tandoor oven then stewed in a creamy spiced tomato sauce. Chicken breast is more commonly used but I prefer thighs for this dish. Although there are many variations of tikka masala, many recipes consist of ghee (clarified butter), heavy cream, and yogurt but I have omit them all. I used coconut milk instead for some added richness. The subtle sweetness of the coconut milk adds a nice contrast to the tomatoes and also helps cut through the spices.

This curry is packed with flavor and saucy goodness. The aroma of this dish that permeates through the house as it cooks is so inviting. It can be served with naan or basmati rice or both. You could also add in potatoes to this dish for an even heartier meal but remember to adjust the consistency since the potatoes will soak up the sauce as it cooks.

Chicken Tikka Masala


  • 6 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tsp ginger (grated)
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 ground tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 onion (diced or puréed)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tbs ginger (grated)
  • 3 Thai chilies (whole)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 vine ripen tomatoes or 1 cup (puréed)
  • 1/2-1 cup chicken broth or water
  • 13.66 fl oz of remaining coconut milk
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground chili or paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro to garnish


  1. In a bowl, combine all the marinate ingredients along with the chicken; allow to marinate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Fry chicken on medium high heat in batches to get a good sear for about 3-4 minutes on each side; remove.
  3. With the same pan, lower the heat to medium; add onions, cook for about 3 minutes scrapping off brown bits in the pan.
  4. Add in Thai chilies, bay leaf, garam masala, coriander, cumin, chili or paprika, and cayenne; cook for about 1 minute.
  5. Add in tomato paste; cook for another minute.
  6. Add in puréed tomatoes; cook for about 4-8 minutes until caramelized.
  7. Add in chicken broth/water and coconut milk; bring to a boil.
  8. Lower heat to a simmer; cover and cook for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  9. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces.
  10. Add chicken back in.
  11. Uncover and cook for another 10-15 minutes to thicken the sauce and to thoroughly cook the chicken.
  12. Season to taste.
  13. Garish with cilantro.
  14. Enjoy!

Chicken Tikka Masala


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