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Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala is a dish with a truly multicultural background, one that shows how foodways can rapidly change. It is a preparation that demonstrates the possibility for the creation of new foods when different groups renew or make new contacts. The entrée of small bites of seasoned chicken in a heavily-spiced sauce is based on Indian cookery staples like yogurt marinades, with a distinctively Indian curry-style flavor. However, tikka masala is actually quite a recent invention. According to legend, the variation on a traditional Indian bite-size spiced chicken dish was first developed in a pub in Glasgow, Scotland, the result of a period of increased immigration from India to the United Kingdom in the 1950s. British-Indian and Pakistani immigrants and diplomatic contacts then brought the new fusion dish to the United States, where it has become ever more popular and readily available. Chicken tikka masala connects the United States not only with India, but with the broader history of east-west cultural exchanges in the 20th century.

Recipe Servings: 4

Prep Time
30 minutes
+ 24 hours resting
Cook Time
50 minutes
Total Time
25 hours 20 minutes
Gluten Free
Dairy Free



  1. Whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of the cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and 1 tablespoon salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add the chicken and chill in the refrigerator for 60 minutes.
  3. Skewer the chicken and discard the marinade.
  4. Grill the skewered meat over high heat on a lightly-greased grate for about 5 minutes on each side, or until the juices run clear.
  5. Melt butter over medium heat in a heavy skillet.
  6. Saute the garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute.
  7. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of cumin, paprika, and 1 tablespoon of salt.
  8. Stir in the tomato sauce and heavy cream, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes until it thickens.
  9. Remove the grilled pieces of chicken from the skewers and add the chicken to the skillet.
  10. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  11. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with rice or pita bread.

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