Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Tikka Masala
5 from 9 votes
Indulge in the rich, tangy and slightly spicy chicken tikka masala, a recipe that takes you on a delightful culinary journey. This popular dish offers a burst of traditional flavours, perfectly complemented by a side of garlic naan.
Chicken Tikka Masala

Welcome to a delectable journey exploring Chicken Tikka Masala. With roots tracing back to the Indian subcontinent, this dish has made its mark globally, tantalizing taste buds across the continents. It’s a testament to the intricate art of balancing flavours that is emblematic of Indian cuisine. 

As I delve into the intricacies of this recipe, you’ll find that it’s not as intimidating as it may appear at first glance. With a medium difficulty level, even budding cooks can master it, adding a jewel to their culinary crown. A blend of aromatic spices, tender chicken, and a creamy, spicy gravy – this is what Chicken Tikka Masala is all about. 

There are countless variations of Chicken Tikka Masala, each boasting its unique touch. From using coconut milk to add a sweet, creamy texture, to incorporating different meats, there’s an exciting scope for experimentation.  

But, the version I’m guiding you through is a delightful balance of traditional and modern flavours, keeping the essence intact while making it accessible to cooks worldwide. 

This recipe’s heart lies in the marinade, transforming chicken into a tender, flavourful delight.  

Next, the Curry Masala, a symphony of spices and ingredients, lends a rich, creamy texture and an irresistible aroma to the dish. It’s this combination of the marinade and the curry that brings the Chicken Tikka Masala to life. 

One of the fascinating aspects of Chicken Tikka Masala is its ability to fit into any menu – be it a simple family dinner or a grand party. It never fails to impress, whether it’s served as a standalone dish, or in combination with other Indian delicacies. 

But, the real beauty of this recipe lies in the act of creating it. It’s a dance between ingredients, a symphony of flavours coming together. With each stir, each sprinkle of spice, you’re not just cooking – you’re creating magic.  

It’s a form of art, each movement precise, each ingredient meticulously measured, all coming together to create a dish that’s more than just a meal – it’s an experience. 

So, let’s dive in, shall we? A culinary journey awaits, one filled with colours, aromas, and flavours that promise to awaken your senses and transport you to the bustling streets of India. It’s time to unlock the secret to making a delightful Chicken Tikka Masala right in your kitchen. Bon appétit! 

What Ingredients to Use & Why 

Now that we’ve whetted your appetite with a broad view of Chicken Tikka Masala, let’s delve into the magical world of its ingredients. Each ingredient, as diverse and unique as they are, comes together to create a harmony of flavours and textures that is the essence of this beloved dish.

But remember, it’s not just about following the recipe. It’s about understanding why each component matters. So, let’s go on a journey, one ingredient at a time. 

Chicken: Chicken is a rich source of protein and wonderfully absorbs the marinade’s flavours. Its light, tender texture perfectly complements the bold, spicy gravy. Alternatives? You could try paneer (Indian cottage cheese) for a vegetarian spin or shrimp for a pescatarian version. 

Yoghurt: This creamy delight in the marinade tenderizes the chicken and acts as a flavour carrier for the spices. An alternative dairy-free option could be coconut milk, which also imparts a subtly sweet flavour. 

Salt: The universal flavour enhancer, salt helps bring out the rich, varied flavours of the spices and harmonizes the taste of the dish. It’s hard to find a substitute for this! 

Spices: Turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala – each spice brings a unique characteristic to the table, making the marinade and curry masala an explosion of flavour. These spices can be adjusted to taste or swapped with pre-made curry powder in a pinch. 

Lemon Juice: It adds a hint of tanginess to the marinade, balances the heat of the spices, and tenderizes the chicken. In its absence, vinegar or tamarind paste can be used. 

Olive Oil: Used in the curry masala, olive oil acts as the medium that brings together all the flavours. It carries the taste of spices well, but other oils like canola or vegetable oil can also be used. 

Onions & Garlic Paste: These two build the base of the curry, adding a depth of flavour that forms the dish’s backbone.  

Onions give a sweet, aromatic flavour when browned, while garlic adds a strong, pungent flavour. They can be replaced with onion and garlic powder respectively, but the fresh ones always bring superior flavour. 

Tomatoes: These add tanginess to the curry masala, balancing the richness of the spices. You could also use canned tomatoes or tomato puree as alternatives. 

Cashew Powder: This secret ingredient gives the curry a rich, creamy texture without overwhelming the spices’ flavours. Almond powder or a splash of heavy cream can be a good substitute. 

Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Methi): Lastly, the fenugreek leaves. It’s hard to describe their unique, slightly bitter flavour, but it gives the dish a definitive Indian touch. If unavailable, you can skip it, but there isn’t a perfect alternative to this. 

We’ve navigated through our list of ingredients, understanding their importance, the flavours they impart, and the alternatives that can be used. It’s clear that the beauty of this recipe lies in its balance – each ingredient is as important as the other.  

Now, you’re not just following a recipe; you’re crafting a culinary masterpiece, each ingredient playing its part. So, let’s get cooking! The world of Chicken Tikka Masala awaits you. 

Unravelling the Magic of Marinades in Chicken Tikka Masala 

Marinades have always been a secret weapon in my culinary arsenal. They are like these magical concoctions that can transform the mundane into the extraordinary. And when it comes to Chicken Tikka Masala, it’s the marinade that sets the stage for a stellar performance. 

Now, you might wonder, what’s so special about this marinade? Well, it’s the perfect blend of yoghurt and spices that does the trick.  

The yoghurt acts as a tenderizer, breaking down the proteins in the chicken and enabling it to absorb the flavours of the spices. I can’t emphasize enough how much I love this beautiful symbiosis of flavours. 

While you might be tempted to cut short the marination time, I would urge you to resist. The longer the chicken marinates, the more pronounced the flavours become, and it’s this intensity of flavour that gives Chicken Tikka Masala its unique character. 

But don’t just take my word for it. The next time you plan on making Chicken Tikka Masala, experiment with the marination time.  

Try cooking a batch with a shorter marination time, and another that’s been marinated overnight. You’ll notice the difference, and I’m sure you’ll fall in love with the complex flavours that a longer marination process brings out. 

The Curious Case of Kashmiri Chilli in Chicken Tikka Masala 

In the grand symphony of spices that is Chicken Tikka Masala, the Kashmiri chilli plays a crucial role. It’s not as fiery as some of its counterparts, but don’t let that fool you.  

What it lacks in heat, it more than makes up for in colour and flavour. And trust me when I say, this is one spice that you should get to know better. 

Kashmiri chilli, as the name suggests, hails from Kashmir, a region in northern India known for its cool climate and vibrant spices. It has a mild heat level and an incredibly vibrant red colour that is hard to match. This is why it’s a favourite in many Indian dishes, not just Chicken Tikka Masala. 

When it comes to Chicken Tikka Masala, the Kashmiri chilli helps give the dish its iconic orange-red hue. But it’s not just about the looks. It imparts a depth of flavour that other chilli powders fail to deliver.  

The heat is mild and pleasant, and the taste complex and layered. It’s the kind of spice that gives the dish an added dimension, making it stand out. 

In case you’re having trouble sourcing Kashmiri chilli, don’t fret! A good substitute could be a mix of paprika (for colour) and cayenne pepper (for heat). Just remember, with spices, it’s always about the balance.  

You don’t want the heat to overpower the other flavours. Start with a smaller quantity and adjust as per your taste. 

Embracing the Richness of Cashew Powder in Chicken Tikka Masala 

Have you ever wondered about the secret ingredient that gives Chicken Tikka Masala its rich, creamy texture? It’s none other than the humble cashew. Transformed into a fine powder, this nut takes on a leading role in making the curry wonderfully creamy and indulgent. 

Cashew powder is one of those ingredients that quietly elevates the dish without stealing the limelight. When I first introduced it into my version of Chicken Tikka Masala, I was blown away by the change in texture.  

It lent a velvety richness to the curry that was absolutely divine. The best part? It did all this without overpowering the other flavours in the dish. 

Using cashew powder in Chicken Tikka Masala isn’t just about the texture. It also adds a subtle nutty flavour to the dish that complements the robustness of the spices beautifully.  

It’s like the final piece of the puzzle that makes everything fall into place. It makes the curry indulgent, yes, but it also balances out the heat and acidity from the spices and tomatoes, respectively. 

But what if you don’t have cashew powder on hand or have a nut allergy? Fret not! You can replace it with almond powder for a similar nutty taste and creamy texture. Or if you prefer to go nut-free, a splash of heavy cream can also do the trick. Just remember, the key is to maintain the balance of flavours. 

Next time you’re whipping up a batch of Chicken Tikka Masala, don’t forget the cashew powder. It’s this unassuming ingredient that takes the curry from good to great, adding a dimension of creaminess and flavour that makes the dish utterly irresistible. 

The Role of Fenugreek Leaves in Chicken Tikka Masala 

If there’s one ingredient in Chicken Tikka Masala that leaves people scratching their heads, it’s probably dried fenugreek leaves.  

These leaves, also known as methi in Hindi, have a unique flavour that’s slightly bitter but incredibly aromatic. And once you’ve tasted them in a dish, you’ll recognize them anywhere. 

In Chicken Tikka Masala, fenugreek leaves play a crucial role. They’re usually added towards the end, and while their contribution may seem minimal, it’s incredibly significant.  

Just a sprinkle of these leaves adds an entirely new dimension to the curry. It’s an earthy and slightly bitter flavour that cuts through the richness, providing a perfect balance. 

When I cook Chicken Tikka Masala, I love the moment when I add the fenugreek leaves.  

It’s like the dish is already fabulous and then, with the addition of the fenugreek leaves, it suddenly becomes magical. It just goes to show how a single ingredient, used sparingly, can make such a huge difference to a dish. 

Now, finding fenugreek leaves can be a bit of a task, especially outside of India. In such a case, you can omit it. However, a perfect replacement doesn’t really exist for its unique flavour. But I assure you, even without fenugreek leaves, your Chicken Tikka Masala will still be delicious. 

Fenugreek leaves may seem like a mystery, but in the world of Indian cooking, they’re a prized possession. They might be the unsung heroes of Chicken Tikka Masala, but once you start using them, you’ll understand why they’re absolutely worth it. 

Unveiling the Splendour of Garam Masala in Chicken Tikka Masala 

In the flavourful world of Indian cuisine, garam masala holds a place of honour. This aromatic blend of ground spices is a powerhouse of flavours and a crucial part of many Indian dishes, including the delectable Chicken Tikka Masala. 

You might ask, why is garam masala so special? Well, it’s the complex mix of various spices like cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper that gives it a unique flavour profile.  

It is warm, spicy, and slightly sweet, adding a depth of flavour that can elevate any dish. I especially love it in Chicken Tikka Masala because it perfectly complements the creamy, tomato-based curry. 

Adding garam masala to the dish is not just about flavour. The aroma that wafts through the air when I stir it into the curry is absolutely intoxicating. It’s a smell that brings to mind the vibrant markets of India, full of spices and delicious food. 

But what if you can’t find garam masala? In such cases, you can make your own blend at home by grinding together some cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper. It might not be an exact match, but it will certainly lend a similar warm, spicy flavour to your Chicken Tikka Masala. 

In my opinion, a good Chicken Tikka Masala just isn’t complete without the addition of garam masala. It’s this blend of spices that gives the dish its character, making it a hit not just in India, but around the world. 

Exploring the Role of Olive Oil in Chicken Tikka Masala 

When you think of Indian cooking, olive oil probably doesn’t spring to mind. Traditionally, dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala would be cooked in ghee or vegetable oil. However, I’ve found that olive oil brings its own unique charm to the dish. 

Cooking Chicken Tikka Masala with olive oil can make a difference. It has a mild flavour that doesn’t overpower the other ingredients, letting them shine. It’s also a healthier option compared to other oils, being rich in monounsaturated fats which are good for heart health. 

It’s the little things, like heating the oil properly before adding the onions, that bring out the best in the dish. The sizzling sound as the onions hit the hot oil, their slow transformation into a golden brown – these are the small joys of cooking this dish. 

If you don’t have olive oil, you can substitute it with other oils like canola or sunflower. They have a neutral flavour that won’t interfere with the other ingredients in the Chicken Tikka Masala. 

The next time you’re making Chicken Tikka Masala, consider using olive oil. It might not be a traditional choice, but it’s definitely a delicious one. You might just find, like I did, that it adds a certain something that makes the dish even more enjoyable. 

The Zing of Lemon Juice in Chicken Tikka Masala 

Chicken Tikka Masala is known for its vibrant flavours, each element playing its part in creating a harmonious symphony. One ingredient that adds an essential touch of freshness is lemon juice, used in the marinade for the chicken. It’s this simple, tangy element that can transform the dish. 

When I add lemon juice to the marinade, it’s not just for the zesty kick. Lemon juice also acts as a tenderizer, breaking down the proteins in the chicken and making it more succulent. It’s like a behind-the-scenes worker, silently making the dish better. 

But don’t worry if you find yourself without lemons. You can substitute it with other souring agents like vinegar or even tamarind paste. These ingredients can bring that same tanginess, ensuring your Chicken Tikka Masala doesn’t lose its zing. 

Adding lemon juice to your Chicken Tikka Masala marinade might seem like a small step, but it’s these little things that can elevate a dish. So next time you’re marinating chicken for this curry, don’t forget the lemon juice. It’s this zesty secret that can make your Chicken Tikka Masala taste even better! 

The Magic of Marination in Chicken Tikka Masala 

When it comes to creating a delicious Chicken Tikka Masala, one step that holds the key is marination. This is the process where the chicken is soaked in a mix of yoghurt and spices, allowing it to absorb all those wonderful flavours before it’s even cooked. 

Marinating the chicken is like letting it soak in a flavour bath. It’s a process I cherish, knowing that each minute the chicken spends in the marinade, it’s getting more flavourful. The yoghurt in the marinade helps tenderize the chicken, while the spices infuse it with incredible flavour. 

When you bite into a piece of chicken that’s been well-marinated, it’s a revelation. The flavour is not just on the surface – it’s all the way through. That’s the beauty of marination. It doesn’t just make the chicken taste better; it transforms it. 

What happens if you’re short on time and can’t marinate the chicken for long? While it’s ideal to let the chicken marinate for at least an hour, if you’re in a pinch, even a short marination time can add some flavour. 

Never underestimate the power of marination when making Chicken Tikka Masala. It’s this process that can turn your dish from ordinary to extraordinary, giving it a depth of flavour that will have everyone coming back for more. 

The Robust Role of Red Chilli Powder in Chicken Tikka Masala 

Indian cuisine is celebrated for its depth of flavours, and the spice that often takes centre stage is red chilli powder. Particularly in a dish like Chicken Tikka Masala, it lends a potent punch that I find irresistible. 

The rich red colour of Chicken Tikka Masala? That’s courtesy of red chilli powder. This vibrant spice contributes not just to the heat of the dish, but also to its appealing hue. When I add a dash of red chilli powder to the mix, it feels like I’m adding a splash of colour to a canvas. 

But, it’s not all about the heat and colour. The full-bodied flavour that chilli powder brings is also significant. It’s a kind of warmth that fills the mouth and lingers on the palate. It’s the spice that turns a good dish into a great one. 

Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of heat – you can adjust the amount of chilli powder to your taste. And if you’re out of red chilli powder, cayenne pepper or paprika can serve as viable substitutes. They offer a similar colour and heat, ensuring your Chicken Tikka Masala doesn’t lose its charm. 

The next time you’re cooking up a pot of Chicken Tikka Masala, appreciate the red chilli powder. It’s not just a spice; it’s a star that shines brightly in the flavourful galaxy of this dish. 

Decoding the Deliciousness of Dried Fenugreek Leaves in Chicken Tikka Masala 

Dried fenugreek leaves, known as Kasuri Methi, may not be a familiar ingredient to everyone, but in Indian cuisine, it’s a flavour booster. Particularly in Chicken Tikka Masala, it adds a unique touch that’s hard to replicate. 

When I add dried fenugreek leaves to the dish, it’s like the final brushstroke on a masterpiece. It’s the ingredient that brings everything together, balancing the robust flavours with its unique bitter-sweetness. 

Fenugreek leaves have a slightly bitter, celery-like flavour with a hint of sweetness. When added to Chicken Tikka Masala, it counterbalances the rich, creamy gravy and adds depth. This herb isn’t just a garnish; it’s an integral part of the flavour profile. 

What if you don’t have dried fenugreek leaves? While there’s no perfect substitute, you can use fresh fenugreek leaves or even celery leaves for a somewhat similar flavour. It won’t be the same, but it’ll add a touch of bitterness to balance the dish. 

Remember, when you’re making Chicken Tikka Masala, don’t skip the dried fenugreek leaves. It’s a little addition that can make a big difference, enhancing the overall taste of this beloved dish. 

Check Out These Other Recipes 

Who could resist diving into the spicy and satisfying world of curry cuisine? You’ve relished every bite of the Chicken Tikka Masala, now it’s time to broaden your horizons and embark on an even more vibrant culinary journey. 

Picture this: You’re cosy at home, an apron wrapped around you, and the heavenly scent of Chicken Tandoori wafting through your kitchen.  

I promise it’s just as good as your favourite Chicken Tikka Masala, maybe even better! Roasted to perfection, with a tangy flavour that sings with each bite. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more flavourful chicken dish. 

But why stop there? A curry adventure would be incomplete without the Chicken Jalfrezi. Imagine it: tender chunks of chicken immersed in a thick, spicy tomato-based sauce, full of robust, fragrant spices. Trust me, it’s every bit as good as it sounds. 

Now, if you’re like me, you know a good meal isn’t complete without a bit of sweetness. That’s where the Mango Lassi comes in. It’s a refreshing blend of mangoes and yoghurt, lightly sweetened, the perfect palate cleanser after a hearty meal. It’s the taste of the Indian summer, right in your glass. 

But why just stick to chicken? I’ve tried the Masala Lamb Chops and believe me when I say, it’s a revelation. These chops, seared to perfection, soaked in a spicy, aromatic masala – it’s like the Chicken Tikka Masala, but with a whole new level of richness and depth. 

And, you know what? I’d love to know how you liked these recipes. Which one stole your heart? Or maybe you have some exciting twists to share?  

Drop a comment below, and let’s make this culinary journey more interactive and thrilling. And remember, this is just the beginning, we have a whole curry world to explore. 

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

by Nabeela Kauser
Indulge in the rich, tangy and slightly spicy chicken tikka masala, a recipe that takes you on a delightful culinary journey. This popular dish offers a burst of traditional flavours, perfectly complemented by a side of garlic naan.
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Marination Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine British, Indian
Servings 4
Calories 297 kcal



  • 500 g Chicken
  • 100 g Yoghurt
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder Haldi
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder

Curry Masala

  • 50 ml Olive Oil
  • 1 Onions
  • 2 Tomatoes Finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Ginger Paste
  • 1 tsp Garlic Paste
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri Chilli
  • 1 tbsp Cashew Powder
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tbsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves Methi
  • Coriander
  • 200 ml Water


  • Cut the chicken into small bite-size pieces
  • In a large bowl add all the marinade ingredients to the chicken then mix until well combed and set aside for 1 hour
  • Once marinated shallow fry the marinated chicken pieces until slightly charred and cooked through
  • In another pan heat up the olive oil on medium heat until hot
  • Add the sliced onions and cook for 5 minutes until browned
  • Add the ginger paste and garlic paste then sauté for 1-2 minutes
  • Add the chilli powder, Kashmiri powder, garam masala and salt then cook the spices for 3-4 minutes
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes until softened
  • Add the cashew powder and water then cook for 10 minutes
  • Add the cooked chicken pieces before cooking for a further 6-8 minutes
  • Garnish with the fenugreek leaves and coriander
  • Serve with garlic naan and enjoy!



Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 297kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 14gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 1250mgPotassium: 424mgFibre: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1140IUVitamin C: 13mgVitamin D: 0.1µgCalcium: 70mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, Cooking, Curry, Food, Indian, Masala, Recipe, Spicy, Tikka Masala
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

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1 year ago

5 stars
What can I use if I don’t have cashew powder?


Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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