Chicken Tikka Masala

Photography by Scott Payne | Food Styling by Cindy Melin


Bring this classic Indian dish to your home with easy modifications such as using unsalted diced tomatoes, vegetable stock and reduced-fat or soy milk. Chicken is marinated and seared with a blend of aromatic spices and braised in a delicate and flavorful sauce.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Developed by Zach Breeding

6 ounces plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (3 to 4 breasts)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1½ tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoons turmeric
1 teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 large white onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger root
1 cup no-salt-added stock, chicken or vegetable
1 15-ounce can unsalted tomato puree (or diced tomatoes, pureed in food processor)
¾ cup reduced-fat milk (or soy milk)
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
Optional garnishes: ½ cup chopped cilantro; ¼ cup chopped scallions


  1. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice and garlic. Dice chicken into 1- to 1½-inch pieces and toss in mixture. Marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat olive oil in large pot. Remove chicken from marinade and discard excess marinade. Sear chicken on all sides until golden brown. If the bottom of the pot accumulates small bits of meat from searing, do not worry!
  3. After chicken is seared, add coriander, cumin, cardamom, garam masala, paprika, turmeric, and cayenne. Toss spices with chicken for about 5 minutes. Sautéing the spices allow the natural oils to be released.
  4. Add butter, onion and ginger. Continue cooking until onions are translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
  5. Add stock, tomato and soy milk. Use a wooden spoon to release the sticky bits from the bottom of the pot (called “fonds”). Continue to cook until reduced; the consistency should be that of gravy. Season with salt.
  6. Serve hot with cooked basmati, jasmine, or brown rice. Great alongside warmed Naan bread. Garnish with cilantro or scallion.
  7. Can be stored up to three days under refrigeration.

Cooking Note

  • You may strain the sauce after cooking to produce a velvety consistency. If so, remove the chicken from the final product. Strain sauce through a fine metal strainer and discard excess. Return chicken to sauce and serve.

Zach Breeding, RDN, LD, is a clinical dietitian and professional chef in Philadelphia. He is Stone Soup blogger and author of

Food & Nutrition Magazine
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