Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Chicken Tikka Masala is a magical food. It’s the national dish of Britain, yet Indian, while also an extremely popular dish throughout the rest of Europe where the Dutch East India Company once plied their trade in the 17th and 18th centuries. Paradoxically, however, Chicken Tikka Masala wasn’t even created at this time, and really isn’t a traditional Indian dish, despite it’s popularity. Rather, it seemingly popped up out of nowhere in the mid-20th century.

The prevailing story behind the creation of the U.K.’s most popular dish is that Pakistani chef Ali Ahmed Aslam claimed to have invented the dish in Glasgow , Scotland in 1970, when a British gentleman found his Chicken Tikka was too dry and requested some gravy or sauce with it.

With a little magic and a thick sauce later – poof! Culinary history.

The truth is, there are dozen of different recipes for Chicken Tikka Masala, but the one that really feels right is the one that gets you closest to the type you get on any street in the U.K. or Ireland. We’ve had the dish in London and Dublin , where the recipe was very consistent, and what we’ve listed below is our reconstruction based on our experiences with one of the most delicious foods in Europe. Or Asia. Or America. Or, wherever you’re eating it.

So, is it Indian? British? Irish? Scottish? We didn’t even know how to categorize the great Chicken Tikka Masala for the purposes of writing this post!

But, make it for yourself and ask, “does it really matter where food comes from if it’s this good?”

Chicken Tikka Masala

Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time1 hr 5 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Servings: 5



  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons paprika


  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 3 ½ cups tomato sauce
  • 1 ¼ cups water


  • Slice the chicken into bite-sized chunks.
  • Combine the cubed chicken with the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, salt, cumin, garam masala, and paprika and stir until well-coated.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C). Line a high-sided baking pan or roasting tray with parchment paper.
  • Place the marinated chicken pieces on bamboo or wooden skewers, then set them over the prepared baking pan, making sure there is space underneath the chicken to help distribute the heat more evenly.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes, until slightly dark brown on the edges.
  • Make the sauce: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, then sauté the onions, ginger, and garlic until tender but not browned.
  • Add the cumin, turmeric, coriander, paprika, chili powder, and garam masala and stir constantly for about 30 seconds, until the spices are fragrant.
  • Stir in the tomato puree, tomato sauce, and 1 ¼ cups of water, then bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Pour in the cream.
  • Remove the chicken from the skewers and add to the sauce, cooking for another 1-2 minutes. 
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice or alongside naan bread.


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