Chicken masala is a quintessential Indian dish loved for its simplicity and delicious flavor. This recipe exemplifies a home-style, no-fuss chicken curry that pairs perfectly with basmati rice, chapati, naan, or even aloo paratha.
Chicken masala is a classic Indian dish that is loved by many. In generic Indian lingo, it simply means chicken cooked with spices. In this particular recipe, the chicken is cooked in a spicy onion-tomato masala base.
Chicken masala can be found in many different variations across the country. While there is no single authentic way of making it, my recipe here is one of the most common and loved home-style chicken masala. This is a very basic recipe that uses staple Indian spices. It does not use any cream, cashews, or other fancy ingredients, making it a simple and easy-to-make recipe that can be whipped up with very little effort.
Why will you love this recipe?
- This recipe is simple and easy to follow, making it an excellent option for a weeknight dinner or entertaining a crowd.
- This dish is a great meal prep option as it keeps well in the refrigerator or freezer and can be reheated easily for quick and easy meals throughout the week.
- Chicken masala is a popular dish that is an excellent option for entertaining guests or bringing to a potluck.
Ingredients and Substitutes
Chicken: I am using boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe.
Aromatics: We need onion, garlic, and ginger. Both red onions and yellow onions can be used for this recipe. Fresh ginger and garlic can be replaced by ginger-garlic paste.
Tomatoes: I am using fresh tomatoes as well as tomato paste. Fresh tomatoes can be replaced with tomato puree (tomato sauce).
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Step 1: Heat ghee or olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry until they begin to sizzle. Add the chopped onions and saute on medium-high heat until they turn golden brown (images 1 and 2).
Step 2: Add the minced garlic and grated ginger. Saute for one more minute (images 3 and 4).
Step 3: Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Also, add the salt and powdered spices (coriander powder, turmeric powder, and red chili powder). Mix well and let the tomatoes and spices cook until the oil begins to separate. This will take 7-8 minutes (images 5 and 6).
Step 4: Add the chicken and mix well. Saute on medium heat for 3-4 minutes (images 7 and 8).
Step 5: Add ½ cup of water. Reduce the heat and cook covered on medium-low heat until the chicken is tender and cooked through - about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally (images 9 and 10).
Step 6: Once the chicken is cooked, add the whisked yogurt and mix well. Simmer for 2 minutes until the curry thickens (image 11).
Step 7: Turn off the heat. Garnish with fresh cilantro (image 12).
In this recipe, I am using boneless, skinless chicken thigh pieces. You can also use bone-in chicken thighs or chicken breasts. Alternatively, use whole chicken cut into even pieces. Make sure you adjust the cooking time according to the cut of the chicken.
Whisk the yogurt thoroughly to ensure that there are no lumps present. If there are any lumps in the yogurt, it could cause it to curdle and ruin the texture of the final dish. You can also blend the yogurt for a few seconds to ensure it is smooth.
Accompany with bread: Serve it with bread like naan, roti, or paratha.
Both these dishes are similar in some ways, but they are not exactly the same dish. Chicken masala is a broad term that refers to any dish in which chicken is cooked in a spiced tomato-based sauce. The spices used can vary from recipe to recipe and from region to region in India. Chicken tikka masala, on the other hand, is a specific dish that is said to have originated in the United Kingdom. It is made by marinating chicken in yogurt and spices, then grilling or roasting it before adding it to a creamy tomato-based sauce.
The terms "chicken masala" and "chicken curry" are often used interchangeably, but they can refer to slightly different dishes depending on the region and cooking style. In general, chicken masala is a dish that is dry or semi-dry, which means that it has a base sauce that is just coating the chicken. Chicken curry, on the other hand, is a more generic term that can refer to a wide variety of dishes that are made with chicken and a thinner curry sauce or gravy.
Make the onion-tomato masala sauce on the stovetop as per this recipe. Place the chicken and masala sauce in a slow cooker and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
Use the saute mode of
In the fridge, keep leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days, then reheat. For long-term storage, freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat before serving.
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- 2 lbs boneless chicken thigh cut into 1-1½ inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 inch ginger grated
- 2 large tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala powder (use store-bought or homemade garam masala)
- ½-¾ teaspoon salt adjust as per taste
- ½ cup yogurt whisked
- 2 tablespoon cilantro chopped for garnish
- ½ cup water
- Heat ghee or oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry until they being to sizzle.
- Add the chopped onions and saute until they turn golden brown.
- Add the minced garlic and grated ginger. Saute for one more minute.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Also, add the salt and powdered spices (coriander powder, turmeric powder, and red chili powder).
- Mix well and let the tomatoes and spices cook until the oil beings to separate. This will take 5-6 minutes.
- Add the chicken and mix well with the onion-tomato masala. Saute on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
- Add ½ cup water. Reduce the heat and cook covered on medium-low heat until the chicken is tender and cooked through - about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Once the chicken is cooked, add the whisked yogurt and garam masala. Mix well. and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with rice or naan bread.