Chicken Tikka Masala – Britains Unoffical National Dish

The most popular curry in Britain is Chicken Tikka Masala, and though it sounds like an Indian dish, it is most likely a modern invention. Like most food history there are always arguments and disputes over the exact origin of dishes, and Chicken Tikka Masala is no different. The dish is similar to Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken) from the Pungab, India, but it most likely that Chicken Tikka Masala was created by Ali Ahmed Aslam at the Shish Mahal, restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland after a diner complained about the dryness of a chicken dish. An improvised dish was quickly prepared using various spices and a tin of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup. Lizzie Collingham’s book: Curry – A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors goes into a lot more detail about the various claims of the origin of Chicken Tikka Masala as well as the history of curry in general.

Though nowadays there are many recipes for Chicken Tikka Masala, they are all very similar. The dish is a very mild, creamy curry made with yoghurt marinaded chicken pieces (Tikka) cooked in a tandoor oven or grill, in a mildly spiced, creamy, tomato sauce (Masala). This recipe is developed from the best that I have found, and certainly will beat anything that you can find on the supermarket shelves.

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe


    • 1 large, or 2 small chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
    • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
    • 1 tbsp of oil
    • small handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped as a garnish
  • Chicken Tikka Marinade Ingredients

    Chicken Tikka Marinade Ingredients


    • 3 tbsp of natural yoghurt
    • 1 tsp of chilli powder
    • 1 tsp of ground turmeric
    • 1 tsp of ground cumin
    • 1 tsp of ground coriander
    • 1 tsp of lemon juice
    • 1 tsp of garlic purée
    • 1 tsp of fresh ginger purée
    • 0.5 tsp of salt


  • Masala Ingredients

    Masala Ingredients

    Masala paste

    • 1 tsp of garlic purée
    • 1 tsp of fresh ginger purée
    • 1 tsp of chilli powder
    • 1 tsp of ground coriander
    • 1 tsp of ground cumin
    • 4 tbsp of tomato purée (paste)
    • 3 tbsp of single cream (table cream)




  1. Mix together the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken and mix to coat thoroughly. Cover and leave in a refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.

    Chicken Tikka Marinading

    Chicken Tikka Marinading

  2. Remove the chicken from the marinade and either skewer the chicken onto bamboo skewers and grill (broiler) under medium heat for about 10mins or cook in a medium skillet for about 8mins.
  3. In large wide pan or skillet, add the oil and gently fry the onions, until translucent.
  4. Add the garlic, ginger and the spices and gently cook for a minute or so to release the aromatics.
  5. Add the tomato paste, the cooked chicken, the cream and mix to combine. Season with salt if required
  6. Serve over rice and garnish with a little chopped coriander (cilantro).

    Chicken Tikka Masala

    Chicken Tikka Masala

Essential Kitchen Supplies


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    • Marlene Bertrand on June 27, 2012 at 12:03 am
    • Reply

    I have had this dish at restaurants and really enjoyed it. I am happy to have found a good recipe for it. The photos are absolutely gorgeous.

    1. Thanks. If you get the chance to make it, let us know how it turns out.

    • Carah Burrell on November 29, 2017 at 7:34 pm
    • Reply

    So is the marinade not added to the sauce as a whole?

    1. No, It’s only there to flavour the chicken before grilling

    • Jennifer Newman on July 5, 2018 at 1:52 am
    • Reply

    You recipe sounds brilliant – just wanted to confirm that you are using an American size tablespoon ie 15 mil?

    1. I fairly sure that all modern tablespoon measures throughout the world are now all 15ml, with the exception of Australia which is 20ml.

    • Peter on August 12, 2018 at 2:29 pm
    • Reply

    What an amazing recipe! I made a couple of changes. I added a tablespoon of Kasoori Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) to the marinade. If you can get it from your local supermarket, just rub it between your hands into the marinade, I think it gives it a really flavourful ‘edge’.

    I doubled up on the ‘gravy’ (curry sauce) measurements and blended it before returning it to the pan and then lastly added the cream.

    I also added a little more salt and quite a bit of sugar (it was a little tart with the tomato paste) As the sauce reduced I found it was necessary to thin it out with a little hot water as it was simmering. All in all a really excellent recipe without creating ‘base sauces’……………. It’s a ‘KEEPER!’

    Peter, in the UK.

    1. Peter,

      Thanks again for all the notes you made with this recipe. I love the taste of fenugreek, so I’ll try adding that to the spice mix next time. Also it’s annoying that tomatoes aren’t consistent enough with regards sweetness/acidity.

    • Peter on August 12, 2018 at 2:41 pm
    • Reply

    Just a quick tip when you’re broiling (grilling in the UK?) it is easier to skewer your chicken with two skewers side by side. It stays in place and is easy to turn over 180 degrees so ensuring even cooking.

    If you skewer your chicken or any other meat on one skewer, and try to turn it over it frustratingly ‘spins around’ the ‘wrong way’ on the skewer.

    1. Thanks for tip. Another way to stop the chicken spinning on the skewer is to use flat metal skewers that are used in Indian kitchens. I bought a set a awhile ago and had nearly forgotten about having to double skewer chicken.

        • Peter on August 17, 2018 at 4:40 pm
        • Reply

        Hi Stuart,
        Thanks for your comments, it’s great to receive your feedback. I had no idea that flat skewers were available until you mentioned it (that’s just me living in the dark ages!) However, I’ve found them online and ordered some. Once again, great recipe, thank you so much!

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