Pseudo Chicken Tikka Masala

Tikka step 2

The warm fragrance of onions melding with chicken in the skillet comforted me last night.  I stood in front of the stove for the first time in a few weeks, truly looking forward to eating.  Not just to fuel my body, but to fuel my soul.

For three weeks, my family’s world has been turned upside down, and as I chopped and stirred, and allowed myself to sway a bit to the classical music playing on our Sonos system, a welcomed calm settled over me.  I’m not ready to pour onto the page yet what we’ve been going through…everyone tells me that time will heal…but just know that finding some comfort in routine, in the warmth of the familiar, soothed me just a bit.

My in-laws have flown to South Africa to heal a hole in their family, and we are here doing the same.  In the past, whenever we needed it, my mother-in-law has been here to support us with food. Always food.  Food, food, food!  Her love filled our stomachs as often as we needed it.  But, now in this time of need for our entire family, she cannot be here.  So, I ventured to fill the craving for some spicy, fragrant, tongue-tingling goodness.  Here’s what I did. It’s my southern girl’s version of chicken tikka masala.  Not “just like mom’s,” but actually pretty darn good.  And pretty darn easy!


2 chicken breasts, cubed

1 onion chopped

tablespoon of olive oil

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 can of tomato sauce

2 tablespoons of tandoori masala powder

1 cup of mixed vegetables

Cooked basmati rice


Saute the chicken and onions until chicken is browned and onions are soft.

tikka step 1

Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and tandoori powder.  Stir in the mixed vegetables (my American addition – mixed vegetables are good for pot pies, alone with butter, casseroles, whatever!)

tikka step 3

Let it simmer until the vegetables are soft and the chicken is nice and red and tender.  When every corner of the house is filled with the aroma, your dinner is ready!

Serve with the rice, some papadums (which we were lucky to still have a stash of, thanks to his mom), and a dollop of plain yogurt if you like.

tikka step 4

Now, I don’t want any mean comments from people that this recipe is not authentic.  I’ve gotten that before, and I just don’t like mean people!  It’s tasty and satisfying, and will get us through until our family is together again for the real deal.

Hopefully very soon.

My Indian readers, please give me suggestions to make this more authentic.  I welcome ideas from the experts.

If you’re in need of a good spice fix, and throw some together yourself, let me know how you liked it!




Share Button

10 thoughts on “Pseudo Chicken Tikka Masala

  1. I have found that the “I only eat authentic Indian food” crowd are usually non-Indian food snobs who don’t realize one dish can be made in many ways! If your family likes this, make it! And the mixed vegetables add more nutrition in one pot. I am going to try this recipe with the chicken I have today, actually.

    When I make chicken tikka masala (which is usually next to never), I will add heavy cream in toward the end of cooking and a sprinkle of garam masala when just about ready to serve.

    Have you tried sauteeing the onions and garlic first, then adding all the rest of of everything to a crock pot and letting it simmer all day? I am always trying to find Indian recipes to adapt to the crock pot.

    • The crock pot idea sounds great! I’m so scatter-brained most of t he time, that I don’t even think about dinner until 4:30, when I try to express thaw chicken by 5:00. And the heavy whipping cream sounds good! Thanks for the feedback!

  2. I love altering recipes to what my family needs and loves so adding mixed veggies is a great idea. My parents are from India and my mom is a FANTASTIC self-taught cook. I have tried time and again to make my mom’s Tikka Masala but I can’t quite get it right, I think it’s probably the quality of the garam masala. She makes her own while I go to our regular grocery store for it. mine comes out too brown and not tomato-ey enough.

    Food is such a comfort to me growing up and I love to make dishes that remind me of my parents who moved out of state. Whenever I miss them, I attempt to make my mom’s Chicken Tikka Masala. I found this slow cooker recipe which I actually love and is the closest I can get to my mom’s recipe. I actually like the way it comes out before adding the cream at the end and I think the cream would make it too bland. Of course, I love that it’s a slow cooker recipe too which helps because sometimes Indian food is time-consuming to prep.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today and great chatting with you on Twitter last night. I look forward to getting to know you and your blog better!

    • I find the same differences in quality of the ingredients between mine and my mother-in-law’s as well. She spends so much time on making her ingredients, and like you, I buy mine. Who really has time for all that prep? I will check out the slow cooker recipe. I need to do more planning ahead!
      Also looking forward to getting to know you and your blog better! Love what I’ve read so far! 🙂

  3. This looks delicious! I’ve never heard of this powder, did you get it from a desi store? I like that there’s no heavy cream in it which makes such recipes so high in fat. Like a commenter said, desi food lends itself well to variations– its awful you’ve gotten mean comments! 🙁 This is my go-to recipe for CTM but I would add a dash of lemon to up the tanginess. I like yours though because like I said a lot easier on the hips, lol. 🙂 Hope things improve I’m sorry things are rough 🙁

    • Mmmm…your recipes looks yummy! I’m slowing down my schedule a lot these days, so I will be branching out into more home cooked meals like yours. Thanks for sharing.
      Thanks for your well wishes for us! 🙂

  4. Pingback: The Flight of the Lentils | Southern Life, Indian Wife

  5. Hello! Being an American married to an Indian guy myself, I’ve stumbled across your blog a few times. Today I found myself reading deeper and thought I’d leave you a note regarding Indian food and inlaws.

    When I first met my in-laws, maa did not like me. In fact, she was always mad at me and I had no idea what I was doing to anger her. Cultural differences, you know? Anyway, I observed how much she loved food, so I learned to cook. I’ve been cooking Indian food for almost 5 years now and I swear it’s the thing that has helped us to bond the most. Whenever she’d yell at me, I’d head to the kitchen and whip up a curry. It worked every time.

    Anyway, you asked for ideas on how to make it authentic… here is my version, if you’d like to check it out. 🙂 I even use the leftovers to make a really delicious pizza—a blend of the two cultures, I guess you could say!

    Hope all is well!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *