We’ve grown quite fond of curries around our house, both Thai- and Indian-inspired. And after watching many friends order and enjoy tikka masala — a creamy tomato-based curry — at restaurants, I wanted to create a dairy-free version I could enjoy at home.
This inspired version of 1-pot tikka masala is simpler than most as it doesn’t require any marinating, obscure ingredients, or fancy methods. Just throw everything in one pot and watch dinner appear before your eyes.
Note: We include chicken in this recipe as well as chickpeas for plenty of protein and fiber. But if you’re sensitive to beans, you can easily double the chicken. And if you’re vegan / vegetarian, simply omit the chicken and double up on chickpeas. Let’s do this!
What Is Tikka Masala?
Tikka masala is an Indian curry that typically consists of marinated, cooked pieces of meat in a spicy, creamy orange curry sauce. It’s largely considered the national dish of the UK.
While it’s extremely popular in the UK, “chicken tikka is an Indian dish. The masala sauce was added to satisfy the desire of British people to have their meat served in gravy.” (source)
While our version is inspired, see a more traditional take on chicken tikka masala here.
Origin of Tikka Masala
Like many dishes, the exact origins of chicken tikka masala are unclear. Some claiming its a British take on curry, while others believe it was developed in India, while others are convinced that it was invented at an Indian restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland after a customer complained of his chicken being dry and chef Ali Ahmed Aslam remixed the dish with the addition of a tomato soup and spices. (source)
How to Make Tikka Masala
Tikka masala is traditionally made with meat (most often chicken) marinated in yogurt and spices and cooked separately from the sauce, which is typically a blend of ginger, garlic, onion, tomatoes, cream (dairy), and spices like garam masala.
Ours is a bit simpler, requiring just 1 pot to make and no marinating required! it’s also vegan-friendly when chickpeas replace chicken. It begins by sautéing garlic, onion, and ginger as the flavor base, then adding red bell pepper for some natural sweetness and color.
Next comes the chicken (omit if vegan / vegetarian) and the spices.
It’s common to add tomato sauce or purée to tikka masala, however, in testing, we found the flavor to be too strong and reminiscent of tomato soup. So we opted for diced tomatoes (and blended half of them) for a slightly chunky, slightly creamy sauce that was slightly milder in tomato flavor.
We found this variation to allow the spices to shine through and the tomato flavor to be slightly more subdued, which complemented the creamy coconut milk quite well. Swoon!
We hope you LOVE this tikka masala! It’s:
- Easy to make
- Creamy & perfectly spiced
- Vegan/vegetarian optional
- Incredibly delicious
This would make the perfect weeknight dinner that can easily be made ahead or enjoyed throughout the week as leftovers. It can be kept grain-free by serving with cauliflower rice. Or, serve with brown rice or white rice for the ultimate comfort meal.
More Curry Recipes
- 1-Pot Chickpea Cauliflower Yellow Curry
- Easy 1-Pot Massaman Curry
- 1-Pot Pumpkin Yellow Curry
- Rich Red Curry with Roasted Vegetables
- Easy DIY Green Curry Paste
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Easy 1-Pot Tikka Masala
- 3 Tbsp avocado oil (or sub ghee if not vegan)
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp sea salt (DIVIDED // plus more to taste)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced (6 cloves yield ~3 Tbsp)
- 2 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
- 1 medium red bell pepper, seeds and stems removed, halved then sliced lengthwise
- 1 ½ Tbsp minced green chili, stems and seeds removed (use serrano or jalapeño)
- 1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed (organic, pasture-raised when possible // if omitting chicken, double quantity of chickpeas)
- 1 Tbsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp red chili flake (omit for less heat)
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes (if unsalted, you’ll add more salt to the dish) BLEND ONE CAN FOR SMOOTHER TEXTURE
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, slightly drained (if omitting chicken, double quantity of chickpeas)
- 1 Tbsp garam masala* (see notes for DIY blend)
- 1-2 Tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk (sub light coconut milk for less fat)
- Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion, cumin, and one-third of the salt (1/3 tsp as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add garlic, ginger, bell pepper, and green chili and stir. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Next add chicken breast (or omit if not adding — you’ll double up on chickpeas later), ground coriander, chili flake, turmeric, and paprika and stir to coat. Add another one-third of the salt (1/3 tsp as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Next add diced tomatoes (optional: purée one of the cans of tomatoes in a small blender before adding for a creamier sauce). Then add chickpeas, garam masala, coconut sugar, and remaining salt (1/3 tsp as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size).
- Increase heat to medium high until it reaches a rolling simmer, then reduce heat to low or medium-low and maintain a simmer (uncovered) for 15-20 minutes or until thick and stew-like. Stir occasionally.
- Add coconut milk and stir to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes on medium-low heat. Then taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste, chili flake (or a pinch of cayenne) for heat, coconut sugar for sweetness, cumin or paprika for smokiness, or garam masala for a more spiced / earthy flavor.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and jalapeños for added heat (optional). Can be enjoyed as a stew, or with white or brown rice or cauliflower rice. Another favorite is serving over roasted sweet potatoes.
- Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator up to 4-5 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with the lesser amount of coconut sugar and without optional ingredients.
*Loosely adapted from our Easy Chana Masala.