Chicken Tikka Masala

Servings : Serves 4

Chicken tikka masala is a decadent and aromatic dish consisting of grilled or roasted chunks of chicken in a creamy tomato-based spicy sauce. It is considered to be one of the most popular take-out dishes in the UK. Here’s my spin on this world famous recipe.

Ingredients for Marinade

  • 500 g boneless chicken breast or thighs, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder or paprika (for colour)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp yoghurt

Ingredients for Sauce

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes, blended or grated and skins discarded
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder or paprika powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (less or omit for milder version)
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional, it helps cut the acidity from the tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup water (if needed)
  • salt to taste
  • fresh coriander for garnishing


Add the chicken chunks to a bowl and then mix in all the marinade ingredients. Combine well, cover and refrigerate for about 4 hours or up to overnight for best results.

Remove the chicken from the fridge at least half an hour before you begin cooking so that it comes to room temperature.

Thread the chicken chunks onto skewers and grill either on a pan, over a charcoal grill or in a very hot preheated oven (220 C, for about 6-8 minutes per side or until slightly charred and golden). If you are grilling in a pan on the stove top, ensure you use a heavy pan over high heat so as to get a really good colour on the chicken pieces. Drizzle some oil on the pan to avoid the chicken sticking. Also avoid crowding the pan, cook the chicken in batches. Do not worry if the chicken is not fully cooked through at this point as it will be simmered in the sauce later on to ensure doneness. Once done, put the chicken pieces in a plate, cover and set aside. Do not discard any of the juices or marinade.

Heat the butter and oil combination in a pan, then add the finely chopped onions. Cook until lightly golden, then add the ginger and garlic pastes and allow them to cook for a minute until aromatic. Sprinkle in all the powdered spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, kashmiri or paprika and the red chilli powder) and a teaspoon of salt. Stir them in for a few seconds to waken up the aromas, then add the tomato paste and mix it in.

Next, add the blended tomatoes and if you have any leftover marinade plus a teaspoon of sugar. Stir and cook for about 3-5 minutes over medium low heat. If the sauce feels too dry, add about a quarter cup of water and mix it in. Then add the cream and stir it in.

Finally add the chicken chunks with any juices that may have been released. Simmer over low heat for another 10 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked and tender. Taste and adjust for salt.

Sprinkle on the fresh coriander and serve with rice or naans (or both!).


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