1. Add the vegetable oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the fenugreek seed, coriander seed, fennel seed, and cumin seed. The oil should be hot enough so that the seeds begin to sizzle in the pan, but not so hot that they burn. Use a large spoon to stir the seeds. 01:10
2. Once the seeds begin to pop, turn the heat up slightly and add the onion. Stir to combine. Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Cook the onions until they are soft, translucent, and have developed some color. 02:22
3. Add the garlic and ginger purée to the pan. Turn the heat down, if necessary, and stir to incorporate. Add the serrano chilies and stir to incorporate. Allow the chilies to cook completely. Add the chili powder, coriander seed, cinnamon, and cumin and stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low so as not to burn the spices. Add the turmeric and ground ginger. Mix to combine. 04:40
4. Pour the crushed tomatoes into the saucepan and stir to combine. Add a pinch of sugar and cook until the tomatoes have completely broken down. 09:24
5. Add a carton of chicken broth into the saucepan and stir to combine. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced completely and has a paste-like consistency. 11:35
6. Add a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of heavy whipping cream, and stir to combine. Allow the flavors to settle by simmering for one more minute. Add the main protein or store for future use. 13:34
What You'll Need
- Large saucepan
- Large wooden spoon
- Blender (optional)
- Vegetable oil (2 to 3 tablespoons)
- Fenugreek seed (1/4 teaspoon)
- Coriander seed (1/4 teaspoon)
- Fennel seed (1/4 teaspoon)
- Cumin seed (1/4 teaspoon)
- Onion (1/2, diced)
- Salt (1 pinch)
- Sugar (2 pinches)
- Garlic and ginger purée (1 tablespoon)*
- Serrano chilies, deseeded and minced (1 tablespoon)
- Chili powder (1 tablespoon)
- Coriander seed, ground (1 tablespoon)
- Cinnamon, ground (1/2 tablespoon)
- Cumin, ground (1 tablespoon)
- Turmeric (1/2 teaspoon)
- Ginger, ground (1/2 teaspoon)
- Crushed tomatoes, canned or fresh (1 can or about 14 ounces)
- Unsalted chicken broth (1 carton or 32 ounces)
- Butter (1 tablespoon)
- Heavy whipping cream (1 tablespoon)
*For the ginger and garlic purée recipe, see Chef Notes.
In this tutorial, Simon uses a technique called tempering. This occurs when a fat, like oil, is flavored with spices. Tempered oil can be used to create deeper, more nuanced notes in dishes. For more information on this technique, visit Simon's "How to Temper Oil" tutorial located at the bottom of the page.
Ginger purée, also known as ginger paste, is a very popular ingredient in Indian cuisine. To make your own, add 1/4 cup of peeled and roughly chopped ginger, 1/2 cup of minced garlic, 3 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon of oil, and a pinch of salt to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. The ginger purée can be frozen and saved for later use.
Make sure to remove the seeds from the serrano chilies before using them. The skins provide warmth, but the seeds are extremely spicy. For a less spicy tikka masala sauce, use less of the serrano chilies or omit them altogether.
This sauce can be used top shrimp, fish, and other proteins. Simply stop at Step 4 or Step 6, add your favorite protein, mix to combine, and serve. For a creamier sauce, whisk in 1/2 cup of yogurt after Step 4 of Step 6 and use however you’d like. For a smoother sauce, blend until smooth in a blender.
This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator or frozen for future use.
For Simon’s Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe, visit his “Chicken Tikka Masala” tutorial located at the bottom of the page.