Paleo Chicken Tikka Masala


As I sit here writing this post I am laying in bed. It's 8:00pm. I have been here since 5:30pm. I am not sure if it's the fever, the cough, or just the lack of inspiration, but I have no idea what to write about this Paleo Chicken Tikka Masala. 

I guess I could write that I had very little exposure to Indian food until grad school. That definitely does not make me an expert on it, but I think that makes me the best person to tell any of you who are afraid to try Indian food to give this recipe a try! Chicken tikka masala is the best gateway into Indian food you can find! This dish has quickly become one of my favorites and can easily be made a bit healthier with just a few tweaks. 

At first I was a little intimidated to make Tikka Masala at home because of all the fancy spices. Then I realized, I already had just about all of them in my spice collection. But despite the exotic name, I found that it's almost like making a classic meat sauce!

 I started by marinating the chicken in coconut milk and spices overnight. Then I broiled the chicken just to get it a bit charred and added it to the simmering tomato sauce. Once the chicken is cooked through and the flavors have melted together, it's ready to go! Easy right?


Chicken Tikka Masala is typically served with rice and/or naan bread. To stick make this extra Paleo, we served ours over cauliflower rice. But, if I am being perfectly honest, we also had some naan bread with it. Don't call the Paleo Police. It was Friday night and we wanted to go a little crazy, okay? If you are Paleo, I don't have to tell you to skip the bread and stick with the cauli-rice. 



Prep Time: 20 min    Cook Time: 1 hr    Total Time: 1 hr 20 min


  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoons ground cumin]
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (1 ½ cups) coconut milk
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus sprigs for garnish


  1. Mix together garlic, garam masala, paprika, ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cardamom, and red pepper. In a shallow dish, whisk together half of the can of coconut milk, half of the spice mixture, lemon juice, and salt. Place cubed chicken in the dish and spoon the marinade over the chicken to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Store the other half of the spice mixture in an airtight container.
  2. Heat ghee in a large pot or skillet. Add onion, tomato paste, and spice mixture and cook until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes with juices and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, making sure to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom. Cook for about 10 minutes until sauce is thickened. Then add in remaining coconut milk and cook for another 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, while the sauce is thickening, preheat the broiler on high. Line a baking sheet with foil and place chicken in a single layer on the sheet. Broil the chicken until it starts to blacken in areas. Turn to blacken the other side. About 10 minutes.
  5. Then add the chicken to the sauce and let simmer until chicken is cooked through. Stir in cilantro. Serve over cauli-rice.