Chicken Tikka Masala (from a jar) – Success!

My most recent anti-recipe dinner was chicken tikka masala. I have actually made this several times in the past and I have a method that I really like. It’s very easy, and I bet you could do it too. I am going to try to describe things in a way that lets you copy the method, even though I don’t have a recipe. I bet it would also be really good with shrimp or just veggies, if you want a meatless version.

The first thing you should know is that I do not make it from scratch. I have no idea how you would do that. I buy the sauce in a jar, usually from Trader Joe’s, but you can often find some version in the “world” sections of any regular grocery store. In just a minute, you’ll see a picture of the one I used this time.

I really like to play up the coconut flavor in the dish, so I add coconut milk. I combine one whole can with the whole jar of tikka masala sauce.

tikka masala lovefood 002      tikka masala lovefood 003











These were the ones I worked with for this particular go at the dish. For this purpose, I really think that any can of coconut milk will do, so go ahead and get the cheap one. Alternatively, I think it says the can contains 14 oz of coconut milk, so you can figure out how to measure that out. You can also add less, if you don’t want it to be quite so heavy on the coconut, or MORE if you just can’t get enough.

I have in the past added minced or diced garlic to the sauce as well, but I didn’t this time.

So, because I had an onion left over from making chili, I decided I would add some sliced onion this time. I cooked them up in some canola or olive oil (I can’t remember) first, to make them less onion-y. Once they had been simmering a while, and a few started to brown, I tossed the chicken in the pan.

tikka masala lovefood 001


The chicken should be cooked before you add the sauce. However, since you’re going to simmer it all for a while, it doesn’t have to be fully cooked. Just so that it’s not still pink and raw… if you make this with the onions, you don’t have to keep them separate from the chicken like that. It’s just something I do.

When the outside of the chicken is no longer pink, that’s when I add the sauce. All you do it pour it over and then stir it together. It’s very very simple. Be careful when pouring, because there’s definitely a possibility of staining if you happen to splash.

To try something different, I thought I would add some more vegetables to it. I added an entire bag of frozen peas with pearl onions. It was very pea-heavy. If you wanted a smaller peas-sauce ratio, half the bag would probably do. Or you can just make it a judgment call.

Stirring it in with a wooden spoon, so that the bottom of the pan doesn't get scraped up.

Stirring it in with a wooden spoon, so that the bottom of the pan doesn’t get scraped up.

At this point, I cover and simmer the whole pan for at least 30 minutes. Generally no more than 45.

The pan I used here is a very large, Cuisinart cooking skillet. If you don’t have a pan like this with high sides, then you should use a pot instead. You want to make sure it’s a container that will actually hold the sauce and that you can cover easily (because no one wants to struggle to cover their pans while they’re trying to cook. It’s just not fun).

When it’s cooked long enough to be sure the chicken is cooked through and all vegetables you put in are cooked, that’s it. You’re done. In fact, I probably cook it longer than I need to. I bet 20 minutes would be fine. You don’t want to cook it too long, because then the chicken will start to get dry.

So then you just serve it up and eat.

tikka masala lovefood 005

Here it is just after cooking, over jasmine rice. Tikka masala has enough flavor that I didn’t want to do anything fancy with the rice. I put a little bit of butter into the water as it boiled, but otherwise the rice is just plain. Jasmine rice is my favorite and definitely my vote for pairing with tikka masala. Basmati rice would also be good.

And that’s all! It really is very easy to do, and you can experiment with any add-ins you’d like. It takes a little bit of time, but not all that much effort. Also makes great leftovers, tastes exactly the same warmed up the next day.


Posted on June 15, 2013, in Food and Drink, Non-recipes, Products, Shopping and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I am Indian and by no means anything close to a chef, but have tasted lots of authentic indian food in India and experimented with some cooking on my own. I saw this at trader joes and decided to try it out of curiosity. If you want to make this taste a bit more authentic, this is what i did: Put cooking oil into your pan and saute one large chopped onion along with some chopped garlic and ginger for a few minutes. Then add in the chicken and add some curry powder, salt, black pepper and red chilli powder. Let this all saute for 5-7 minutes while mixing it really well. Then you can add in the TJ simmer sauce, cover and let it cook. When its nearly cooked to your liking, add in some chopped green chillis or jalepeno, and garnish with cilantro. Let it simmer uncovered another 2-3 minutes and serve with rice or naan.

    This makes it taste a bit more authentic in my opinion.

    • Thanks for this comment! I of course know their version isn’t truly authentic (that sure would be impressive), but I wouldn’t really know how to make it taste authentic. Your tips sound like they’d create a delicious end result. I’ll have to try with some of these ingredients.

  2. I love this post because you are quirky and fun with it!! Making tiki masala from scratch is hard, for the fact of having to go to a specialty market to get the right flavorsi bought a can of the simmer sauce from TJ and literally looks up “good additions to TJ tiki masala sauce” and this popped up. So thank you for your cute, step by step! I’ll be adding maybe a 3rd bag of peas and some extra onion + garlic thanks to you!! ❤️❤️

  3. I just made this tonight but went in more of a vegan kind of direction. I love the addition of the coconut milk because the sauce tastes just so velvety and delicious, but I served it over a bed of quinoa/rice blend, tossed in some steamed cauliflower and diced sweet potatoes with a side of warm naan. Positively in heaven right now! Oh, and I used Trader Joe’s Curry Masala simmer sauce (to die for).

  4. I’m making a version of this tonight, and think I’ll add some chopped peanuts and a few tablespoons of shredded unsweetened coconut on top.

  5. Steve Weaver (UK)

    Doing it for a prty of 5 and I’ll have the leftovers the next day. One of my favourite dishes that never fails to please.

  6. I tried this and it worked great — a lot of food! Large skillet with a cover is a must. I heated up 1tbsp vegetable oil, sauteed 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 onion, two 3-inch serrano peppers from my garden for 3-5 minutes. Added the masala simmer sauce and a can of my favorite coconut milk (Chaokoh). Brought to simmer. Added two chicken breasts (defrosted, sliced). Covered, simmer. Added diced potatoes and cooked for 10-15 minutes. Added 1 sliced bell pepper, cooked another 10 minutes. Served over 4cups of cooked brown rice. Lower longer simmer keeps the chicken from getting too dried out.

    • Mmm, sounds delicious! I’m glad it worked for you. Yes, it is a lot of food. I usually have leftovers for a week. I just got another jar of this sauce and I’m thinking of trying it with shrimp… Thanks for reading and for your comment!

  7. Well, I don’t have an answer to the “2,000 views” but I want to try this, if I can find the sauce. I’d use tofu.

  8. Reblogged this on The No-Recipe Life and commented:

    This one post has been viewed over 2,000 times, making it responsible for over half of the total views for this blog. This baffles me for several reasons–for one, there are instructions right on the jar for how to use it. Second, there is still only one comment on the post. I have no idea if these thousands of people who are looking at this post LIKE my “recipe,” or bothered to make it, or just moved on to a more detailed/specific recipe.

    Which basically means I’m still flying blind in terms of posting and whether or not I’m ever going to get more views.

    As a side note, I haven’t made this for a really long time, so I should do it again. I wonder what I should add in this time…

    • I googled “TraderJoes masala simmer sauce review” and your blog popped up! I guess a lot of us are wondering if it’s worth the purchase…funny thing is, I’m cooking it in the crockpot as we speak, so I was secretly hoping to find rave reviews about it…since it’s already what’s for dinner. 🙂 No turning back now.

  9. Yum! I love all of the simmer sauces from Trader Joe’s (especially the thai sauces)… I usually use brocoli instead, but I love peas so I’m going to try those next time. Thanks for the idea.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: