Instant Pot Tikka Masala using chicken breast or thighs, bathed in the most fragrant Indian coconut curry sauce. A fast and easy weeknight dinner! Vegan Adaptable-see notes!
- 2 pounds chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1-2 inch cubes ( sprinkled with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper) or see notes for vegan version.
- 2 tablespoons ghee ( or olive oil, coconut oil)
- 2 fat shallots, diced ( or sub 1 onion)
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 4–6 garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced ( or use paste)
- 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds or use ½ teaspoon ground (optional)
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (optional, but good!)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves ( this really elevates the dish, but if you don’t have use 2 bay leaves)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala spice (or make your own)
- ½–1 teaspoon cayenne ( more to taste)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar (or alternative sweetener like honey or agave)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 14 ounce can coconut milk, divided (do not use “lite” coconut milk -it will result in a very thin, soup-like consistency, the thicker the better).
- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- 2–3 cups potatoes, cut into larger 1 inch cubes ( or cauliflower florets)
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
- 2 cups peas ( either fresh peas or frozen peas, or snap peas, or a combo – add at the end. )
Turn instant pot pressure cooker to Saute function.
Cut chicken into cubes and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each, salt and pepper and set aside.
Saute shallot, garlic and ginger in oil until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add whole spices ( cumin, fennel and mustard) and the chicken, and add a little color to the chicken, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices and remaining spices and salt and sugar. Add 1/2 cup broth, and scrape all the brown bits -to prevent the burn error. Add 1/2 cup of the liquid part of the coconut milk, saving the thick cream for the end. Give a stir.
Turn instant pot back to saute function, and reduce the liquid by half. (At this point you could toss in some quick-cooking veggies- frozen peas, snow peas, bell pepper, baby spinach, etc.) Stir in the remaining coconut cream.
Adjust salt and spice level to your liking. Feel free to add more garam masala to taste, or cayenne if you need a kick of heat. If serving over rice, I like to “up” the salt a bit as the rice will soak it up.
As usual, with pressure-cooked meats, this will taste much better after the chicken has time to soak up the flavor.
If making the VEGAN VERSION – Saute shallot, garlic and ginger in oil until fragrant. Add all the spices, sauce 1-2 more minutes, letting them toast. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk. Add the sugar and salt. Add the drained chickpeas, potatoes (or cauliflower) and red bell peppers, and give a good stir. Pressure cook on high for only 5 minutes! Manually release to keep veggies from getting too soft. Set Instant Pot to “saute” function, add peas and let them cook five minutes. As the sauce cools, it will thicken.
If cooking chicken version on the stove top, heat oil in a large Dutch Oven. Saute onion, garlic and ginger in oil, until fragrant, about 2 minutes, over medium heat. Brown the chicken lightly, sauting and stirring for a few minutes. Add all the spices to the chicken, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and coconut milk. Give a good stir and add the salt and sugar. Simmer gently on medium heat until chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
If cooking Vegan Version on the stove top, heat oil in a large Dutch Oven. Saute onion, garlic and ginger in oil, until fragrant, about 2 minutes, over medium heat. Add all the spices and lightly toast. Add tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir and salt and sugar. Add the drained chickpeas and potatoes. Simmer gently on medium heat uncovered, until potatoes are tender, about 1o minutes, then add bell pepper and peas. Simmer 5 more minutes.
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