Chicken Tikka Masala

This is a cheats version of the classic Anglo-Indian dish, Chicken Tikka Masala. It’s cheaty because it doesn’t involve the separate preparation of chicken tikka. Nor is the chicken marinated in yoghurt and spices, it’s simply added to the finished sauce. This version is highly spiced and quite intense, almost veering into “Murgh Makhani” territory.

Essential to the success of this dish is the preparation of fresh garam masala. My own garam masala recipe leans heavily on the clove and green cardamom and the intense fragrance is ideal for this recipe. You’ll also need to source dried fenugreek leaves, often sold under the name “kasoori methi”. They have a very distinctive flavour and are an essential component to this sauce.

Fresh green chillies, whether whizzed up in the sauce or cooked whole in the sauce add a really vibrant flavour to the sauce, as does the inclusion of fresh coriander at the end of cooking. Health food it ain’t, with all that butter and cream, but it’s great as an occasional treat.


  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp garlic-ginger paste
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 5 free-range chicken breast fillets, cubed
  • 400ml water
  • 80g butter
  • 100ml single cream
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek leaves, ground into powder
  • juice of 1/2 lemon


  1. Grind the cumin and coriander seeds to a fine powder and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large casserole or pot. Cook the onions gently until soft and golden. This should take at least 20 minutes.
  3. Now add the garlic-ginger past and fry for another minute or two. Add a splash of water if the mixture is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add the canned tomatoes and tomato puree and increase the heat slightly. Add the reserved cumin and coriander powders, paprika, chilli powder, yoghurt and stir-fry for about 5 minutes, adding a little water if necessary. This step is essential to cook out the raw flavour of the tomatoes and spices.
  4. Now remove the pot from the heat, add 400ml of water and whizz the sauce to a fine consistency using a stick blender.
  5. Return the pot to the heat and add the diced chicken. Allow to simmer gently for 25 mintes.
  6. Now time to finish the sauce – add the sugar, butter cream, lemon juice and fenugreek leaf powder. Simmer for another 10 minutes and check the flavour and consistency. If the sauce is took thick add another splash of water. I might add a little extra lemon juice, salt or sugar at this point – just adjust it to your own taste.

Serves 5-6.

2 Responses to “Chicken Tikka Masala”

  1. 1 toastedspecial November 20, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Scaled-up Recipe (x2) – Enough Sauce for 10 generous portions

      2 tbsp cumin seeds
      2 tbsp coriander seeds
      3 tbsp vegetable oil
      4 medium onions, finely chopped
      6 tbsp garlic-ginger paste
      2 x 400g canned tomatoes
      2 tbsp tomato puree
      1 tsp chilli powder
      2 tbsp paprika
      2 tbsp garam masala
      800ml water
      100g butter
      200ml single cream
      2 tsp sugar
      2 tbsp fenugreek leaves, ground into powder
      juice of 1 lemon
  2. 2 Dee doyle February 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Hi there . Just wondering how much yogurt to use as you hav’nt included it in your list of ingredients ?

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