Chicken tikka masala

Chicken tikka masala

I Love Curry
Jonathan Gregson

Though everybody ‘knows’ this dish was invented in Britain, when a diner supposedly wanted sauce with his chicken tikka, its roots are firmly entrenched in one of India’s favourite dishes: butter chicken. It is velvety and unapologetically rich. You will need to taste carefully while you cook, as the sweet-sour balance of tomatoes changes with the season and variety. Balance tartness with sugar or cream or, if it is already sweet, omit the sugar. Do not use plum tomatoes; they are too sweet. Serve with Naan or Paratha.

For the tikka marinade


Quantity Ingredient
3-4 teaspoons lemon juice, depending on the tartness of the yogurt
110g greek yogurt
2 fat garlic cloves, grated into a paste
10g fresh root ginger, peeled weight, grated into a paste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika powder, for colour (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the curry

Quantity Ingredient
6 boneless chicken thighs
20g fresh root ginger, peeled weight
8 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
80g butter
1 black cardamom pod
6 green cardamom pods
2cm cinnamon stick
4 cloves
500g vine tomatoes, blended to a fine puree
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2-4 small green chillies, whole but pierced
salt, to taste
80-100ml single cream, or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon paprika powder, or to taste
1 rounded teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves, crushed to a powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
small handful fresh coriander leaves, to serve


  1. Mix together all the marinade ingredients with 1 tsp salt. Add the chicken and marinate for as long as possible (overnight, covered, in the fridge is best).
  2. Blend together the ginger and garlic for the curry, using a little water to help. Heat the oil and half the butter in a large non-stick saucepan and add the whole spices. Once they have sizzled for 15 seconds, add the ginger and garlic paste; cook until all the moisture has evaporated and the garlic smells mellow and looks grainy. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree and cook down until the resulting paste releases oil; it should take around 20 minutes. Now brown this paste over gentle heat, stirring often, for six to eight minutes, or until it darkens considerably. Pour in 250ml water, bring to a boil, then pass through a sieve, pressing down to extract as much liquid and flavour as possible from the tomatoes and spices. Discard the solids. Set the sauce aside.
  3. Heat the oven to 240°C, ideally with the grill on too, if your oven can do that. Remove the chicken from the fridge. Place it on a foil-lined baking tray on the uppermost shelf of the oven and cook for eight minutes, or until slightly charred. Remove from the oven. The chicken will finish cooking in the sauce. Cut or pull the meat into large chunks.
  4. Heat the remaining butter and add the green chillies. Add the sauce, salt and a good splash of water and simmer for three or four minutes. Add the chicken, cream, sugar, chilli powder and enough paprika to get a colour you like, then add the powdered fenugreek leaves and garam masala. Simmer, stirring often, for four or five minutes, or until the chicken is done and the sauce is lovely and creamy. You may need to add a little more water. Taste and adjust the balance to your palate by adding more salt, sugar or cream. Sprinkle over the coriander leaves and serve.
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again