Chetna Makan’s Chicken Tikka Masala

A British curry house favourite, chicken tikka masala is a delicious dish of marinated and grilled (or oven-baked) chicken in a rich, creamy, spicy sauce. As well as following the recipe in full to make the popular restaurant classic, you can enjoy the chicken tikka pieces on their own (great for a barbecue) or jazzed up with chaat masala and a squeeze of lemon – a popular starter choice in many Indian restaurants. This recipe is from Chetna’s Indian Feasts: Everyday meals and easy entertaining.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Read our in-depth review of Chetna’s Indian Feasts for more about the book.

Chicken Tikka Masala

If a restaurant has chicken tikka masala on the menu, chances are I will be ordering it. This version is an absolute winner. Cashew nuts make the spicy sauce wonderfully creamy and an ideal partner for the tasty oven-cooked chicken. Or you could leave out the masala and serve the chicken on its own – cook it on the barbecue to add that wonderful smokiness and make it more like a classic chicken tikka. To turn it into a chaat, sprinkle chaat masala and a squeeze of lemon juice over the chicken pieces and serve as a snack or starter. But make sure you try this curry, too. It’s too good to miss out on.
Servings 4
Author Chetna Makan


For the chicken

  • 200 ml (7fl oz) natural yogurt
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 cm (½-in) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into roughly 4-cm (1½-in) pieces

For the creamy masala purée

  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cloves
  • 12 cashew nuts
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2.5 cm 1-in piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli, roughly chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, roughly chopped

For the masala

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, cut into chunks
  • 1 quantity Creamy Masala Purée (see above)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)


  • First, prepare the marinade for the chicken. Mix the yogurt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, chilli powder and salt in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces and ensure they are coated in the marinade, then cover the bowl and leave to rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight.
  • While the chicken is marinating, make the creamy masala purée. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the whole spices and cashew nuts. Let them sizzle for a few seconds, then add the onions and cook over a medium–low heat for 8–10 minutes until golden. Now add the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for another minute, then stir in the tomatoes. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes until the tomato, onions and nuts are all softened and cooked through. Take the pan off the heat and set aside to cool slightly, then blitz to a purée in a blender or small food processor.
  • When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF), Gas Mark 6. Place the chicken with all the marinade on a baking tray and roast for 25 minutes.
  • While the chicken is cooking, make the masala. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium–low heat and add the onion chunks. Cook for 5 minutes until softened. Now add the creamy masala purée, then the salt, sugar and all the spices and mix well. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse the sauce.
  • Now add the chicken with all the juices from the baking tray to the pan. Increase the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

I also love chicken tikka pieces in a crunchy salad of romaine leaves, ripe tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes with a coriander and mint green chutney.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Find more chicken recipes here, and browse all our Indian recipes and content here.

This recipe is extracted from Chetna’s Indian Feasts: Everyday meals and easy entertaining with perission from publishers Hamlyn. Photography by Nassima Rothacker. 

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