This Chicken Tikka Masala tastes better than takeaway – chargrilled marinated chicken in a rich tomato and cream sauce. A healthy fakeaway that uses only a handful of easy to find ingredients so you can create your favourite curry right at home.
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Chicken Tikka Masala is one of THE most popular curries in Britain and with good reason: it is freaking delicious! It is high time added my own healthified version to this blog.
No one is quite sure where this recipe originated but it is not, strictly speaking, Indian. Some say it was devised by an Indian chef – in Birmingham or Glasgow – as a way to use up tandoor-roasted chicken.
Whatever the origins, this delicious chicken curry is beloved and easy to make right at home. Dare I say that homemade Chicken Tikka Masala tastes even better?
Chicken Tikka Masala Ingredients
As I write this recipe, in spring of 2020, certain ingredients are harder to source and shopping excursions are kept to a minimum. I have kept the list of spices to the absolute minimum to make things easier on the home cook.
- Chicken – skinless chicken thighs or chicken breast
- Yogurt – natural or Greek. I use 0% fat yogurt for a slimming version
- Lemon juice
- Tikka powder (that’s the ONLY curry spice used here)
- Ghee, butter or low calorie cooking spray for frying
- Garlic and ginger – ideally fresh but a paste is fine too
- Tomato paste
- Passata (this is known as Tomato Purée in the US). If you can’t find passata you can use tinned chopped tomatoes
- Chicken stock (from a cube)
- Cinnamon stick
- A little sugar or sweetener (Sukrin Gold is my favourite)
- Cream, yogurt, coconut milk or single soya cream add a creamy element to the sauce
- Fresh coriander (cilantro) to garnish
I like to add cubed butternut squash or peppers (or both) to the curry sauce to make it healthier and help it stretch further. This is entirely optional, just take a look at the recipe notes.
How do you make Chicken Tikka Masala from scratch?
Full measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page. Please take a look at the steps and video before attempting this recipe!
Marinate the Chicken
My simplified recipe starts with marinating chicken in yogurt, lemon juice and tikka curry powder. If you are organised, you can start this process the night before to allow the spiced yogurt to tenderise and flavour the chicken. But you can just as easily start this in the morning and make the curry for dinner.
You can use chicken thighs or chicken breasts in this recipe but chicken thighs are definitely the better option – more tender, succulent and flavourful.
Make the Curry Sauce
Pan fry your onions for 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring often, until softened.
Add the garlic, ginger, chilli, cinnamon stick, sugar or sweetener and Tikka powder and cook for a further 3 minutes.
Add the tomato paste, passata and chicken stock, bring to simmer and cook over gentle heat for 25 minutes, stirring once in a while. If you want to add the squash then add it in with the passata and cook until tender.
Grill the Chicken
Preheat a griddle pan and mist with cooking oil. Pan fry the chicken pieces until cooked through and slightly charred.
Alternatively spread the chicken on a rack set over a roasting tin and grill, quite close to the heat, for 7 minutes per side until charred in places. You can also thread the chicken onto metal skewers and cook under a grill.
Put it all together
Remove the sauce from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick. Blend until smooth using an immersion blender. This step is not essential and you can skip if you prefer. Do blend the sauce if you have used butternut squash.
Add the chicken pieces (and any juices that have collected in the roasting pan if grilled) into the masala sauce and heat through.
Stir in the cream then taste and season with salt and pepper.
Serve with pilau rice, garnished with chopped fresh coriander and lime wedges on the side.
Storing and freezing instructions
Chicken Tikka Masala keeps beautifully for up to three days in the fridge with the flavours intensifying over time. Make sure to reheat properly, ideally on the hob, before serving. If the sauce is too thick you can stir in some extra cream or a little water.
Freeze this curry in portions for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and, again, please make sure to reheat until piping hot all the way through before serving.
Slimming Chicken Tikka Masala
This chicken curry is, surprisingly, suitable for popular weight loss plans if you stir fat free fromage frais or yogurt into the sauce.
I prefer to use Alpro Soya Single Alternative to Cream for a smoother and richer sauce – it comes it is low in fat and by adding it by the tablespoon you can control how much to add.
Healthy curry recipes? Try these!
Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
Chickpea And Spinach Curry
Healthy Chicken Korma
Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken + Marinade
- 240 g (1 cup) Greek or thick natural yogurt fat free for a slimming version
- 2 tbsp Tikka curry powder
- 1 lemon juice only
- ½ tsp salt
- 900 g (2 pounds) skinless chicken thighs or breasts cut into chunky pieces
- 2 tbsp ghee or butter use Fry Light for slimming version
- 2 onions diced
- 2 tbsp Tikka curry powder
- 3 tsp garlic paste or 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tsp ginger paste or 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 red chilli, finely diced
- 1 tsp brown sugar or Sukrin Gold Sweetener
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 500 g (1 lb 2oz) passata (tomato purée) or 400g/14oz tinned chopped tomatoes
- 120 ml (½ cup) chicken stock or more, as needed
- 200 g (7 oz) cubed peeled butternut squash optional
- 4 tbsp double cream or coconut cream or fat free fromage frais for slimming version (see notes for other options)
- salt and pepper to season to taste
- fresh coriander (cilantro) roughly chopped
- 1 lime, cut into wedges to serve
Marinate the chicken
- Add all the ingredients for the marinade into a bowl and mix together. Add the chicken pieces, stir to combine, cover and chill for 6 hour or overnight.
Make the curry sauce
- Heat the ghee or butter in a pot (or mist with cooking spray) and pan fry your onions for 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring often, until softened.
- Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and Tikka powder and cook for a further 3-5 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, passata, squash (if using) and chicken stock, bring to simmer and cook over gentle heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring once in a while.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick.
- Blend until smooth using an immersion blender. This is not essential and you can skip if you prefer. If you have added the squash I would recommend blending to create a naturally creamy sauce.
Grill the chicken
- Meanwhile, preheat a griddle pan and mist with cooking oil. Pan fry the chicken pieces until cooked through and slightly charred. Alternatively spread the chicken on a rack set over a roasting tin place under a hot grill, quite close to the heat, for 7 minutes per side until charred in places. You can also thread the chicken onto metal skewers and cook under a grill.
Add chicken to the sauce
- Add the chicken pieces (and any juices that have collected in the roasting pan if grilled) into the masala sauce and heat through for a few minutes.
- Stir in the cream then taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with pilau rice with lime wedges on the side.
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