August 14, 2022

A la Carte: Chicken Tikka Masala Makes a Perfect Meal With Friends

Lee White

The isolation, almost a year, actually, didn’t bother me as much as those who had to fill supermarket shelves, teach children at home or lose a job. Because I live alone, I have always pretty much eaten when I want to eat and pretty much eat what I want to eat.

But I sure missed the fun of sharing food with friends. So when friends offered to come to my home and cook in my kitchen with food I love but cook rarely, how could I resist?

Marla and Rich Kosenski knew that my Instant Pot sat in its box for almost a year before the pandemic. Then I took it out of the box and bought books on the Instant Pot. Even Weinstein and Scarbrough’s Instant Pot Bible frightened me a bit.

Then a retired teacher form Groton offered to come and teach me how to use it. Once I understood the concept, I began to love it.

Then came the pandemic. Marla and Rich, using their and my Instant Pots (dueling Instant Pots), cooked (I prepped). 

Below is chicken tikka masala. It was beyond delicious.

Just to be sure, I made it myself. Prepping took fewer than 10 minutes. I sautéed in the Pot for 10 more minutes, then dumped in the spices and the chicken, and pressure-cooked for 10 minutes.

After, I made brown rice (2 cups brown rice, 2 cups water, ½ teaspoon salt. Pressure cook for 20-22  minutes. Let it release by its own. Keep the extra rice for other dishes).

Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted slightly from a recipe from Marla Kosinski

Yield: enough for 4 to 6 people

1 ½ tablespoons olive (or other vegetable oil)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic minced
½ teaspoon ginger (I used dried ginger)
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth, divided
1 ½ tablespoons gram masala
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt (I use sea salt).
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, but I love cayenne)
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, juices included
½ cup coconut milk
Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional for those who hate cilantro)
2 cups cooked rice, for serving (I used brown rice)

In the Instant Pot, sauté oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add onion and Saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook until soft and fragrant. Mixture may stick a little t the bottom; this is normal.

Add ¼ cup of chicken broth and cook, gently scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen any stick-on bits, until chicken broth is reduced by half. Add spices and stir to combine. Stir in rest of the broth and tomatoes. Pressure cook on high for 10 minutes. Quick release when done. Stir in coconut milk. Serve over rice on plates and topped with cilantro.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years but now lives in Groton, Conn. Contact Lee at