Saturday 1 February 2014

Chicken tikka masala

Chicken tikka masala stimulates the senses; the mildly spiced masala coating tender pieces of marinated, char-grilled chicken is one of Britain’s favourite takeaways.

Although it is claimed the dish was created in Glasgow, it certainly has Indian influences.There is no standard recipe for chicken tikka masala; a survey found that of 48 different recipes, the only common ingredient was chicken. I found Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Nation to be the most interesting for my taste buds. Her recipe of marinating chicken in whipping cream, ends up flawlessly moist, and it is all because of her grilling technique. No one can beat Jaffrey’s DIY answer to the fiery tandoor, it gives the chicken an intense charcoal flavour.  I went through few of the recipe's before deciding on what I want to do. 

Chicken Tikka Masala

The Marinade


500 g boneless, skinless chicken, thighs or breasts, cut into 2.5 cm chunks

The marinade:

Lemon juice - 3 table spoons
Salt - ½ teaspoon

Ginger - 1 table spoon (peeled and finely grated)
Garlic cloves - 2 (finely grated)

Ground cumin - 1 teaspoon
Paprika - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric - 2 teaspoon
Garam masala - ½ teaspoon
Dried red chillies - 2 (crushed)
Cardamom pods - 10

Whipping cream - 6 table spoons
Sunflower oil - 3 table spoons


  1. Rub in ½tsp salt and lemon juice to the chicken. Leave for 20min.
  2. Add rest of the marinade ingredients to the chicken, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The Masala


White onion - 1 (finely sliced)
Garlic cloves - 5 (finely sliced)
Ginger - 1 table spoon (peeled and finely grated)
Sunflower oil - 5 table spoons

Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Coriander seeds - 1 teaspoon
Dried red chillies - 3 (crushed)

Paprika - 2 teaspoon
Turmeric - ½ teaspoon

Yogurt - 4 table spoons
Tomatoes - 3 (finely chopped)
Tomato purée - 1 table spoon
Ground almonds - 1 table spoon
Chicken stock - 350 ml
Single cream - 120ml

Garam masala - ¼ teaspoon

Coriander leaves - 4 table spoons (fresh, chopped)


  1. Grind the cumin, coriander seeds, chillies in a pestle and mortar and fry for 1-2 minute. Add paprika and turmeric.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil into a large, preferably non-stick, lidded pan on medium heat. 
  3. Add the onion and fry for 6-8 minutes, until it caramelises. 
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to fry, stirring, for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the spice mixture (cumin, coriander, chillies, paprika and turmeric). Stir for 10 seconds.
  6. Then add a tablespoon of yoghurt. Stir and fry until it is absorbed. Add the remaining yoghurt in this way, a tablespoon at a time.
  7. Add the tomatoes and fry until they turn pulpy.
  8. Add the tomato purée, ground almonds and chicken stock. 
  9. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, the sauce should turn thick.
  10. Stir in the cream.

and the Chicken


  1. Preheat the grill to its highest setting.
  2. Thread the chicken on skewers.
    Marinated chicken
  3. Place the skewers across a casserole dish or baking tray so the meat is suspended above the dish.
  4. Grill for about 5 minutes each side, until the meat is cooked through and charred in places.

    Grilled Chicken
  5. When the chicken skewers are cooked, reheat the sauce and fold in the chicken.
  6. Garnish with garam masala and coriander leaves.

If you don’t have skewers, oil the chicken, place on a baking tray and grill on a high heat for 5 minutes each side until the meat is cooked through and charred.
When you think the chicken is ready, cut a large piece of chicken to the centre to check there is no trace of pink.