Chicken and Vegetable Tikka Masala

I’ve been making versions of this chicken and vegetable tikka masala for years now. It’s among the few Indian recipes I’ve found that taste nearly the same as dishes I’ve eaten in cheap Indian buffet places in Portland, OR.

I base my recipe on this curry stand tikka masala, which I found on AllRecipes. It’s been awhile since I came back to this one since my kids really don’t like Indian food (yet).

Veggies for Tikka Masala
I wanted this version of Tikka Masala to feature more vegetables, so I added cauliflower, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

Adding Veggies to a Classic Curry Cart Tikka Masala

I’ve really only seen this dish made with onions and curry, but I wanted to give it more nutrition while trying to compliment the flavors. The main tikka masala recipe calls for sugar, so I chose a couple of veggies that bring some sweetness, carrots and sweet potato. I then added some cauliflower because its mild flavor absorbs the flavors around it.

Instant Pot Tikka Masala
I decided to use the Instant Pot for making this version (since we just got the thing), but you can use a large stockpot if that’s what you’ve got.

Chicken Thighs Instead of Chicken Breast in the Tikka Masala

The second variation I made is that I almost always prefer to use chicken thighs instead of chicken breast. Thighs are generally less expensive at the grocery store and they have a more flavor than breast. Finally, the are more forgiving when you cook them and won’t dry out as quickly if you over cook them.

Diced Potatoes Carrots Cauliflower
The veggies are diced and ready to go.

Full Vegetarian Tikka Masala

I’m not a vegetarian, but I really think this dish would be easy to keep as a vegetarian tikka masala because the chicken does not bring a ton a flavor to this dish. So if you’re going to make it as a full-on vegetarian dish, this I would recommend doubling the amount of veggies in this.

Simply omit the chicken and start by sauteing the onion.  I’ve added carrots, sweet potato, and cauliflower but you could also add tofu or chick peas to this and it would be just as yummy.

Chicken Vegetable Tikka Masala
This Chicken and Vegetable Tikka Masala hit all the right notes for me: spicy, rich, flavorful, and highly nutritious.

How Did the Tikka Masala Turn Out

This has been a favorite dish and the new version does not disappoint. The first batch I made had two heaping teaspoons of cayenne pepper, which caused my wife to give me watery-eyed dirty looks. So in this recipe I backed that down to one teaspoon.

The best thing about it is the sweet potato and carrots really add sweetness to the sauce base and make this dish. I don’t think I will ever make it with just chicken again and will continue to experiment with other veggies, such as regular potato and chick peas.

If you’re interested in a more summer version of this dish, check out my indian butter curry chicken salad.

Chicken Vegetable Tikka Masala Ultra Close
The chicken really does get lost in the crowd of vegetables in this version of chicken and vegetable tikka masala.


Chicken Vegetable Tikka Masala Closeup

Chicken and Vegetable Tikka Masala

I make a healthier version of this classic Indian comfort food dish, mostly with ingredients that are easily found.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
InstantPot Cooking Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 8
Calories 300 kcal


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 1 med head of cauliflower, broken into smaller florets
  • 1 med sweet potato, ½-inch diced
  • 2 med carrots, ½-inch diced
  • 4-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger Or 2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper You can bump this up to 2 tsp if you like it hotter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp ground paprika
  • 2 14oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups half and half or heavy cream I used half and half because that's what I had around the house.
  • 4 med Serrano peppers, diced for garnish Forget the cilantro, go for something with a kick!
  • 2 cups Cooked white or brown rice


  • In a large stock pot over medium high heat or in your InstantPot (set on saute), dust the chicken with curry powder and saute in butter until chicken has browned on a couple of side.
  • Add onions to chicken and stir frequently until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add all spices except sugar to onions and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add tomato sauce and prepped veggies and bring to a simmer. Add half and half or cream and bring back to a simmer, turn heat to low and cook, stirring often, for about an hour, until veggies are tender. Watch for splatters. If you are doing this in an InstantPot, set it to pressure cook for about 12-14 minutes and let rest another 10.
  • Add sugar and salt to taste.
  • Serve over rice and garnish with serranos or with other hot peppers. Use cilantro if you want something mild.
Keyword butter chicken curry, carrots, cauliflower, indian, sweet potato, tikka masala, vegetables

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