Tikka Masala Chili

Last Sunday, Daniel and I attended a Super Bowl party where we participated in a chili cook-off. We are very confident in our classic chili recipe (which originates from Daniel’s dad), but we decided to challenge ourselves and do something a little out-of-the-box. We were inspired by a recent trip to a local Indian buffet and looked online to see if anyone has ever done a Chicken Tikka Masala/Chili hybrid. We found one recipe that was not impressive so we made our own!

We tested the chili on our friends Chris and Maureen, who gave us a few suggestions that put it over the top. Chris is Indian-American and his amazing cooking skills won the gold in the Traditional Chili category! Our own chili may not have won the blue ribbon, but we thought it tasted like a million bucks. Since we’ve received some requests for the recipe, I decided to share it here. It takes about 30 minutes to prep, and around 3 hours to cook. The full recipe makes a large crockpot-full, but it can be easily halved to make a smaller portion.


  • 6 Chicken Thighs (Lamb would be good too.)
  • 2 Yellow Onions
  • 16 oz Plain Yogurt
  • 6 cloves Garlic
  • 2 red Bell Peppers
  • 1 small can diced Green Chilies
  • 1 6 oz can Tomato Paste
  • 2 cans Petite Diced Tomatoes
  • 3 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 cans Chick Peas
  • 3 tbsp Ghee (A type of clarified butter. You could also use Canola Oil.)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream (Coconut Milk would be a good substitute.)
  • 3 tbsp chopped Cilantro plus more for garnish

Spice Mixture

  • 1 tbsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Ancho Chile Powder
  • 1 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper


Marinate the chicken in 1 yellow onion diced, garlic, half the yogurt, and half of the spice mixture. Chop the remaining yellow onion and the bell peppers very finely. I use the food processor and it makes it go a lot faster. Toast the remaining half of the spices in 1 tbsp of ghee for just a minute until they become aromatic. Add the onion, bell pepper, and green chilies and saute over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly.

Next, add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, and chicken broth. Simmer on low for 2 hours, stirring every 10 minutes or so, then add the rest of the yogurt and the chick peas. Sear the chicken on medium-high heat, browning each side. It’s okay if the chicken doesn’t cook all the way through at this stage. Chop it into cubes and let it finish cooking in the chili. Let simmer for 30 more minutes and turn off the heat. Stir in heavy cream and cilantro and it’s ready to serve. We like to put a big spoonful of rice at the bottom of the bowl and then ladle the chili over it. Top it with cilantro and a side of toasted naan and it’ll feel like you’re wrapped up in a snuggie on the couch with a labradoodle.



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