You can make a delicious Chicken Tikka Masala right at home and it is so easy and flavorful, thanks to a few simple ingredients and the Ninja Foodi!
Chicken Tikka Masala is so easy to make in the Ninja Foodi! I can't thank everyone enough for asking for this recipe. It was a joy to create, test and, of course, EAT! I especially want to thank my friend, Amber, for agreeing to test this recipe for me!
I asked Amber to test my version of Chicken Tikka Masala because I have never eaten it out at a restaurant; in fact, I had only made it once before! While my husband and I loved it, I had no idea if it even remotely resembled Chicken Tikka Masala... Amber to the rescue!
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a small commission. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
I was pretty nervous to hand over a recipe that I had no idea if it even resembled the traditional dish, but Amber loves Chicken Tikka Masala and I knew I couldn't hit publish on this recipe until I had her feedback. Thanks again Amber!
I go over all of Amber's feedback and suggestions below, but first let's talk about Chicken Tikka Masala!
What is Chicken Tikka Masala?
I thought I'd discuss this first because I am sure not everyone has heard of Chicken Tikka Masala. I'm no expert on it for sure... remember, I've never even eaten it out at a restaurant!
Chicken Tikka Masala is a type of a curry dish similar to butter chicken, but less (or no) butter and more complex flavors and spices. I wish I could talk about this more in depth, but the truth is: I haven't had butter chicken, either! I know, I know, it's crazy! I need to get out more.
There is some question if Chicken Tikka Masala originated in India or in the UK. I was surprised a bit that this dish is one of the most popular dishes in the United Kingdom.
As far as ingredients go for Chicken Tikka Masala, they run the gamut for sure. The only ingredient you are sure to find in a Chicken Tikka Masala is the chicken!
While I fully admit to having no experience with other recipes for chicken tikka masala, I quickly fell in love with it and I bet you will too! It's a wonderful blend of warm spices, rich flavors, and it's so EASY to make!
Is the Garam Masala important to use in this recipe?
Yes, I think so. I also think you could obtain a very similar flavor by adding in various spices and creating your own type of garam masala, but it's a bit easier to buy it already made.
When making your own garam masala spice blend, the spices are usually whole. You then roast them and grind them. See what I mean? Much easier to buy it. Most grocery stores carry it in the spice aisle, but I had a little trouble finding it in our neck of the woods. It's pretty rural around here and I have trouble finding a lot of things. I was able to buy it on Amazon and here is the brand I purchased: Simply Organic Garam Masala
Garam Masala is often made differently and there is no "one" recipe that is the best. If you are adventurous and want to make your own, here is a recipe I found that you might find interesting: Easy Garam Masala
What about turmeric?
Turmeric is responsible (in part) for the beautiful color of chicken tikka masala, so I'd use it if you can. Will it ruin the recipe if you don't? Probably not. I don't use turmeric too much, but I always have it on hand and I was glad I did when I started developing this recipe!
You hear about a lot of health benefits with turmeric. As with anything, I urge you to do your own research because everyone's health requirements are different. Here is an article that I found that is interesting (I am not promoting the use of turmeric in any way except for a spice in this recipe): Everything You Need to Know About Turmeric
Let's get into things I do know with 100% certainty and that is the fact that Amber helped me a ton with this recipe!
Amber's feedback on this recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala
Yogurt verses Buttermilk
Originally, I marinated the chicken pieces in buttermilk, mostly because I was out of yogurt and I wrote the original recipe that way. Amber suggested that I switch the
buttermilk to the more traditional yogurt. I agreed wholeheartedly and whipped up a batch of yogurt in the Ninja Foodi. Did you know you can make yogurt in the Ninja Foodi? It's easy and delicious, here is the recipe: Homemade Yogurt in the Ninja Foodi
You can certainly make this recipe with buttermilk, but I have to give this one to Amber... it's better with yogurt!
Fire Roasted Tomatoes versus Plain Diced Tomatoes
If you have been around me for a while, you probably already know that I LOVE using Fire Roasted Tomatoes in many of my recipes! There is something about the flavor that adds so much to a dish. I almost always use them instead of plain diced tomatoes and they are certainly featured in my most popular recipe: Ninja Foodi Spaghetti Recipe.
Amber thought that it might be adding to the sweetness (it's not a sweet dish) and recommended using regular diced tomatoes. I definitely see her point, but I decided to leave them in the recipe because it is the type of canned tomatoes that I stock. You can certainly use either kind and the recipe will be delicious.
More Garam Masala please... tumeric too!
Yes, Amber, I agree 100%! I doubled the amounts in the final recipe and the flavor is so much better. Thanks, Amber!
I will talk about these two spices in just a bit.
Lose the Sugar
I have to admit that adding a bit of sugar was a last minute decision because I felt the sauce was a touch too acidic. I tested the recipe again, with Amber's suggestions, and I still felt like it was too acidic.
I decided to try brown sugar instead of white sugar and in my opinion this was the BEST version of Chicken Tikka Masala!
Sugar is definitely optional and if you aren't sure if you want to add it in, don't. You can always add a touch at the very end if you think it is a touch acidic. That's the beauty of a recipe, use it as a map or a guideline and make the changes you want so you end up with a dish you LOVE!
I can't thank Amber enough and I'm excited that she has agreed to test more of my recipes! If you are interested in being a recipe tester, please email me: Louise@thesaltedpepper.com.
Let's get to making some delicious Chicken Tikka Masala
It might not be the quickest recipe, but it sure doesn't take hours of active time either! You can always watch me make the recipe in my step-by-step video right here ⇒ Chicken Tikka Masala in the Ninja Foodi
The first thing you want to do is get the chicken cut up and in the marinade. You can marinate the chicken for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. I did both, a quick marinade and a longer one. The short marinating time worked fine and the dish was super delicious. The long marinating time was even better, but I don't know if that was because of the time or because I also implemented Amber's suggestions.
If you are using chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs, I recommend cutting them into 2" pieces so they don't overcook during the broiling process. I really recommend using fresh ginger, but if you are using ginger powder instead, then use about ½ tsp.
Dice chicken thighs into 1½ inch cubes
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for marinade and place chicken cubes so they are submerged in the marinade. Put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes up to 24 hours
Cooking the Chicken
Place the steam/fry basket in the inner pot of the Ninja Foodi. Dump the chicken and the marinade in the basket. No preheating needed.
Turn on the broil function and broil the chicken in the basket for about 30-40 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces with tongs 2-3 times during the cook time, bringing the bottom pieces up to the top for browning.
The chicken is done when all the marinade has been cooked into the chicken and the chicken is a nice golden brown color. Remove the basket with chicken and set aside.
Tikki Masala Sauce
While the chicken is cooking, it's a great time to get all the rest of the ingredients prepped. Dice the onion into ¼"
Keep the marinade in the bottom of the inner pot. Turn the Ninja Foodi on high sear/saute, add the diced onion for 2 minutes. You can use some oil if needed.
Add the grated ginger and the diced and crushed garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add in the chicken stock and make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the inner pot.
You can use a different size pan as long as it fits on the rack. You can also turn the rack to the low position, just know it will probably be a little messier. If you want to use a different kind of rice, just make sure to adjust the liquid and cooking times accordingly. I have not tested this recipe with different types of rice and do not know the cook times. If you make it with a different rice, let me know what time and liquid you used and I'll update the post!
Rinse 1½ cups of basmati rice and place in an 6" cake pan or other pressure safe container.
Add 1½ cups of water to the rice and stir.
Put the pressure lid on the Ninja Foodi and make sure the valve is to seal. Set the pressure to high for 8 minutes. When the time is up, immediately release the pressure.
Fluff the rice and cover. Set aside.
Add the chicken to the sauce in the inner pot along with the tomato paste, cilantro and butter. Add in peas or zucchini if using. Stir to combine and close the TenderCrisp lid. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. You can also turn on the sear sauté to heat it up a bit if needed.
Chicken Tikka Masala
- 2 lbs chicken thighs boneless skinless
- 1 cup Yogurt Greek or plain regular
- 3 cloves garlic minced, about 1.5 tsp
- 2 tsp ginger freshly grated (about 2 inch root) or ½-3/4 tsp ginger powder
- 1 Tbsp garam masala
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes optional, but suggested
- 1 ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cumin ground
- 1 Tbsp Lemon juice juice ½ lemon
Tikka Masala Sauce
- 6 cloves garlic 3 minced and 3 crushed
- 1 Tbsp ginger freshly grated (3-4" root)
- 1 onion diced (about 1 ½ cups)
- 14.5 ounces fire roasted tomatoes
- 13.5 ounce coconut milk
- ¼ cup cilantro stems
- 1 Tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp coriander
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes optional, but recommended
- 1 cup Chicken Stock
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar optional, but reduces acidity of sauce
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 6 ounce tomato paste
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 ½ cups Basmati Rice rinsed
- ½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 cup peas or diced zucchini
- Dice chicken thighs into 1 ½ inch cubes
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for marinade and place chicken cubes so they are submerged in the marinade. Put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes up to 24 hours
- Place the steam/fry basket in the inner pot of the Ninja Foodi. Dump the chicken and the marinade in the basket. No preheating needed.
- Turn on the broil function and broil the chicken in the basket for about 30-40 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces with tongs 2-3 times during the cook time, bringing the bottom pieces up to the top for browning.
- The chicken is done when all the marinade has been cooked into the chicken and the chicken is a nice golden color. Remove the chicken and set aside.
Tikki Masala Sauce
- Keep the marinade in the bottom of the inner pot. Turn the Ninja Foodi on high sear/saute, add the diced onion for 2 minutes. You can use some oil if needed.
- Add the grated ginger and the diced and crushed garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add in the chicken stock and make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the inner pot.
- Add in the remaining ingredients for the sauce, except the tomato paste, butter, and the garnishes. Stir to combine. *The chicken does not get added now*
- Rinse 1 ½ cups of basmatti rice and place in an 6" cake pan or other pressure safe container.
- Add 1 ½ cups of water to the rice and stir.
- Place the rack, in the high position, over the sauce in the inner pot and place the container of rice on top. No need to cover.
- Put the pressure lid on the Ninja Foodi and make sure the valve is to seal. Set the pressure to high for 8 minutes. When the time is up, immediately release the pressure.
- Fluff the rice and cover. Set aside.
- Add the chicken to the sauce in the inner pot along with the tomato paste, cilantro and butter. Add in peas or zucchini if using. Stir to combine and close the TenderCrisp lid. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. You can also turn on the sear saute to heat it up a bit if needed.
- Serve the Tikka Masala over the basmati rice. Enjoy
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.