The Best Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
Aromatic golden chicken pieces in a creamy tomato based sauce, easy to make, yet flavor packed, made with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen!
Servings: 4 portions
For the chicken tikka
- 450 g Chicken Thighs Skinless and Boneless, Diced
- 1 ½ tablespoon Full Fat Set Natural Yogurt Unsweetened
- 2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
- 2 teaspoon Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- ½ teaspoon Coriander Powder
- ½ teaspoon Cumin Powder
- ½ teaspoon Salt
For the Curry Base
- 3 tablespoon Vegetable Oil Unflavored, like Sunflower Oil
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Ginger Chopped
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Garlic Chopped
- 2 Small Onions Thinly Chopped
- 1 Medium Fresh Tomato Thinly Chopped
Preheat the oven to 400*F, 180*C FAN, 200*C Static, or Gas Mark 6.
In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients for the chicken tikka [diced chicken thighs, yogurt, lemon juice, Kashmiri red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and salt], mix well and allow to marinate for at least half an hour.
Once ready to cook the chicken, put the pieces on skewers making sure the pieces are close to each other, but not overly squeezed.
Using a baking tray that is thin enough to put the end of the skewers on each side, so the chicken is not touching the bottom of the tray [or using a cooking rack], bake the chicken on the middle tray for 25 minutes [or until cooked].
Once cooked, remove from the oven, and set aside.
Prepare the Tomato Paste
In a grinder, blitz the cashew nuts and cardamom pods to a fine powder.
Once powdered, add the deseeded tomatoes to the blender, and blend until you achieve a smooth tomato paste, then set it aside.
Start preparing the curry
In a large pan, add the vegetable oil and warm up on low to medium heat; once the oil is warm, add the chopped ginger and garlic and cook until the smell of rawness of the garlic has gone, and it becomes fragrant.
Next, add the onions and mix with a pinch of salt; cook until the onions are golden in color, which will take about 4 to 5 minutes.
At this stage add the chopped tomato [from the curry base ingredients, not the paste you just made], mix well, put a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to low; this will allow the tomatoes to fully cook and become mushy [approx 5 minutes].
The tomatoes should be mushy after approximately 5 minutes, at which stage the tomato-cardamom-cashew puree can be added to the pan. Add 1 ½ cups [ approx 300ml, or 10 oz] of water to the pan, mix well and apply the lid to the pan again and allow to cook on low flame for a further 15-20 minutes, mixing every now and then.
Adding the Chicken Tikka to the Masala
Remove the lid from the pan and increase the heat to medium; add the coriander powder, turmeric powder, chili powder, and garam masala powder to the pan, mix well, and allow the spices to cook, which should take a maximum of 2 minutes. You will know the spices have cooked once the smell changes and they start separating from the oil.
(OPTIONAL STEP) While the spices cook, put the dry fenugreek leaves on a small kitchen towel or in a ceramic pot and microwave for 15-20 seconds; this will make the leaves easier to crush between your palms and will release the fenugreek’s aroma.
Take the dry fenugreek leaves between your palms and crush them into the curry.
Add half a teaspoon of caster sugar and mix well.
At this stage, adjust the water and salt level of the gravy; if you want your gravy more liquid, add some water and salt and bring to a simmer, if you like the consistency, just check for salt.
At this stage of the recipe, add the chicken tikka cubes and mix well; allow the chicken cubes to simmer in the gravy for 3-4 minutes, then add the cream.
Mix well and serve with your chosen accompaniment!
- Chicken Alternatives: Chicken thighs are the best option when cooking chicken tikka, as their higher fat content makes them flavorful and keeps them moist. Should you wish, this can be exchanged for chicken breast, however, in this case, it is better to marinate it for a minimum of 3 hours, to ensure the yogurt and spices well flavor the chicken.
- Yogurt: It is essential that a thick yogurt is used for the marination, so that it sticks to the pieces of chicken, and doesn't fall while cooking or marinating. Make sure an unsweetened full-fat version is used.
- Kashmiri Chilli Powder: This chili powder is milder than red chili powder but has a bright color. Should you like your curry spicier, you can either increase the amount used or change it to Indian red chili powder.
- Vegetable Oil: You can use any unflavored vegetable oil, such as sunflower or canola.
- Cream: Make sure you purchase an unsweetened version. You can choose heavy cream, heavy whipping cream, half and half, or double cream. Some use coconut cream, although, as this has a flavor to it, bear in mind the end result will change.
- Chicken: The chicken can be baked in the oven [as per the recipe above], cooked in a skillet with oil, grilled on a griddle, barbecued, or cooked in a tandoor [if you are lucky enough to have one].
- In the fridge: This chicken tikka masala can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days.
- In the freezer: This chicken tikka masala can be stored in the freeze in an airtight container or freezable bag for up to three months. Fully thaw in the fridge, before warming up thoroughly in a saucepan adding a little water.
Calories: 346kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 433mg | Potassium: 849mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1875IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 3mg