Chicken tikka masala recipe

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Some say this is the most ordered restaurant menu item in the United Kingdom and has taken over from fish and chips as the nation’s favourite food. True, this make-at-home version has a lengthy list of ingredients, but please don’t let that deter you. The marinated chicken could be a meal in its own right; just cook for a little longer than specified here and serve with a simple salad of tomato and onion (kachumbari)… and a pilsener!

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • 6 skinless chicken thigh fillets each cut into three pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2¼ oz/¼ cup (65 g) plain yoghurt
  • 2 fl oz/¼ cup (60 ml) thin (pouring) cream
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • steamed basmati rice, coriander (cilantro) and lemon wedges to serve
Chicken Marinade
  • 2 fl oz/¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 4½ oz/½ cup (125 g) plain yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 14 oz (400 g) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated purée)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
How to Make It
  1. Place the chicken on a chopping board and use a sharp knife to cut several diagonal slashes across each piece. Put the chicken in a non-metallic bowl with the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of the salt, rubbing the mixture into the slashes. Set aside for about 30 minutes.
  2. Put the remaining marinade ingredients, including the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, in a non-metallic bowl and whisk until well combined. Tip the chicken and any juices into the marinade and use your hands to rub the marinade into the chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. To make the sauce, put the onion, ginger and garlic in a food processor and blend to a paste. Heat the ghee in a saucepan over medium–high heat. When the ghee has melted and is sizzling, add the onion paste and stir-fry for 1 minute to combine. Cook for a further 2–3 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the paste no longer has that raw onion aroma.
  4. Stir in the cardamom, cinnamon and paprika and cook for 1–2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and sugar and cook for 4–5 minutes, so the sauce is just simmering. Allow to cool, then transfer to a food processor and whiz to a smooth sauce. Pour the sauce into a saucepan. Keep warm over low heat while cooking the chicken.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden. Put the chicken pieces into the sauce and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through.
  6. Gently stir in the yoghurt, cream and garam masala. Serve with basmati rice, coriander and lemon wedges.

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