Turkey Tikka Masala


If you wind up with left over white meat from your turkey, this is an excellent recipe to make. If you don’t have any leftover, many markets sell cooked turkey breasts in their deli departments so you don’t have to go to the trouble of cooking more turkey.

Tikka masala is usually made with chicken, but I just had a feeling that it would be excellent using cubed white meat turkey. Authentic tikka masala takes several steps to make. First, the meat is marinated in spices and yogurt. Then it is grilled to lock in the flavors and impart a desirable smokiness. Most chicken tikka masala served today is made with chicken chunks (tikka) covered with a creamy, tomato-based sauce that is only mildly spicy.

While there is a disagreement to when and where tikka masala originated, it is possible that the first marinated grilled chickens were made during the pre-British era in India, while the creamy tomatoey version we know today was born when a British chef combined a can of Campbell’s tomato soup with spices and yogurt in order to rescue some dry chicken. Recipes are always evolving, and this one was well developed when I first tasted it in West Los Angeles’s famed Bombay Cafe. Chef Neela Paniz was even nice enough to call me back when I phoned to ask about ingredients many years ago.

In the L.A. area, we are fortunate to have India Sweets and Spices, a market/vegetarian restaurant that carries everything one could need for cooking Indian cuisine. If ingredients are hard to find in your area, there are many online and mail order sources available.



1 cooked turkey breast

Marinade Ingredients:

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. ground red pepper

2 tsp. ground black pepper

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. fresh minced ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. pink Himalayan or sea salt


Sauce Ingredients:

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 minced jalapeno

2 minced garlic cloves

1 lb. chopped plum tomatoes (for added flavor, roast the tomatoes on a skillet and then crush rather than chopping)

2 tsp. ground coriander or finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. good quality paprika

1 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. fenugreek

1/2 tsp. tumeric

1/2 tsp pink Himalayan or sea salt

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup coconut milk from can

1/2 cup poultry broth (chicken or turkey with no MSG added)

1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro



1. Cube the turkey breast.

2. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a shallow glass pan and place the turkey chunks inside the pan. Make sure the meat is covered in marinade and leave marinating in the refrigerator for one hour. Once the hour has passed, remove the turkey meat and discard the marinade.

3. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the minced garlic and jalapeño and cook over medium heat for one minute. Stir in the dry spices and the tomato and cook for 15 minutes.

4. Stir in the cream, coconut milk and broth. Reduce heat to simmer until the sauce thickens.

5. Add the turkey cubes to the sauce and simmer over low heat until the turkey is tender, maybe 7-10 minutes.

6. Serve over basmati rice (I use brown basmati.) Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro. Our Roasted Curried Cauliflower makes an excellent side dish to accompany the delectable tikka masala.

Note: This recipe is gluten-free.

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