Preparation time: 1 hour
Cook: 30 min
Serves: 4 people

The Chicken Tikka Masala is without doubt the most popular curry in the UK, and hailed by some as our National Dish. The brilliant smoky charred flavour of the chicken cooked in a tandoor combined with the tangy, creamy tomato based masala sauce is an absolute winning combination. It really is such a delicious dish, and surprisingly easy to make yourself with spectacular results and without the added colourings and tonne of ghee you are likely to get in a takeaway version. If you don’t have access to a tandoor, the chicken could simply be cooked on a barbeque, or even under the grill.

The tandoor that I have is from Ironbridge Tandoori Ovens, and I am really pleased with the results when using it so far. Get yourself one from here:


For the chicken tikka

  • 800g skinless and boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 green bird eye chillies
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 thumb of fresh ginger grated
  • 2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 2 teaspoons soft brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons of salt

For the masala sauce

  • 3 medium onions
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 100ml single cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5-6 green cardamoms
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large thumb of ginger
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 2 green bird eye chillies
  • 1 small bunch of fresh coriander


1Take the thigh fillets and slice each one into 2 or 3 medium sized chunks that will fit comfortably on your skewers.


2Chop the chillies and add to a large bowl, then combine the rest of the marinade ingredients and mix together before adding the chicken pieces, coating them thoroughly in the marinade. Leave in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour to marinate, but preferably overnight.

3To make the masala sauce chop the onions thinly into short strips, and add to a large pan with a little vegetable oil and the salt, the cinnamon stick and green cardamoms and fry until the onions are really brown and caramelised. I like to take them to the point that they are so dark they are almost burning as this really intensifies the flavour for the base of the sauce.

4Finely chop the garlic and ginger and add to the pan, and stir in followed by the ground coriander, cumin and chilli powder. Now add the can of chopped tomatoes, and fill the empty can with water and add this to the pan which help to deglaze any bits that have begun to stick.

5Now add the tomato puree and the cream, stir and bring the heat down to a low simmer. Take the bunch of coriander and finely chop half of it from the stalk end leaving the leafy side for later. Stir the chopped coriander into the masala, and toss in a couple of whole green bird eye chillies. Leave your sauce to one side until your chicken is ready, this could easily be prepared the day before if you wanted.

6For the chicken tikka make sure that your tandoor or grill is extremely hot before you start to cook. Take your chicken chunks and thread up onto skewers. If using a tandoor oven, add an onion to the end of each skewer which will prevent any meat slipping down into the hot coals during cooking. Cook the skewers in the tandoor for around 25minutes until charred on the outside but cooked through to the middle.

7Finally take your cooked chicken skewers and slice the meat off the skewers into the warmed masala sauce. Stir everything together and finish the dish with the rest of the fresh coriander, roughly chopped.

8Serve with boiled basmati rice and minted yoghurt.


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