This easy chicken tikka masala is the speediest, simplest chicken curry in existence! In fact, it’s so simple that I often call it my cheat’s version! For example, it doesn’t even require real tomatoes – I use tomato puree instead for an intense tangy tomato flavour. Plus, of course, the quintessential yogurt and a hint of lemon juice to reduce the sweetness of the tomato puree.
This recipe is actually inspired by Corina from Searching for Spice‘s recipe for a chicken tikka marinade. When I tried making her recipe, I was struck by how much the smell of the spice blend alone smelled like chicken tikka masala – it was uncanny! So, I decided to add the other integral elements – onion, garlic, tomato (puree in this case), yogurt and lemon juice!
What spices does this recipe use?
For the most part, this recipe uses the same spices as Corina’s recipe. However, since the tomato puree in the sauce is very sweet, I decided to cut out the cinnamon. After all, an overly sweet curry doesn’t sound too appetising!
So, here’s the list of spices that I did use:
- cayenne pepper
- ground coriander
- ground cumin
- ground turmeric
And that’s all! The big bonus is that most people already have these spices, so you can keep your grocery list minimal which is always helpful!
Step 1: the chicken
For the chicken, I largely follow Corina’s recipe for the spice blend (aside for skipping the cinnamon), but only add a little yogurt and skip the garlic, ginger and lemon juice.
I also chose to use diced chicken thighs threaded onto skewers instead of whole chicken breasts. Dicing the chicken means that it takes less time to cook, plus using thighs keeps it juicier.
The logic behind grilling the breasts instead of pan-frying them is that they’ll char, which helps to develop the flavour. Plus, it keeps them coated in the marinade. This helps to trap the moisture in the chicken pieces – after all, nobody likes dry chicken!
Step 2: the sauce
The tikka masala sauce here is super simple! You simply need onion, garlic, tomato puree, yogurt, and a touch of lemon juice. Simple pantry staples!
Plus, of course, the rest of the spice blend used in the chicken marinade. That’s the trick here – using the same spice blend on the chicken and in the sauce in order to build up layers of flavour.
I like to serve this chicken tikka masala with basmati rice (or homemade pilau rice), as well as maybe a naan bread (why not make your own?) or a couple of poppadoms. I’m also a massive fan of onion bhajis, and one (or even two) can’t hurt!
You might also like to serve it with a simple salad on the side to make it a little healthier! Or, why not have some homemade mango chutney on the side? This version is sweet, spicy and super easy to make!
What should I make next?
More Indian Recipes
Other Flavourful Dinner Recipes
- Spice blend:
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- For chicken:
- 1/2 spice blend
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or 1 chicken breast)
- 2 tbsp plain, natural yogurt
- salt and pepper, to taste
- For the sauce:
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/4 yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1/2 spice blend
- 6 tbsp plain, natural yogurt
- 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Split the spice mix in half.
- For the chicken, mix together the marinade ingredients and ensure it gets into every surface of each piece of chicken.
- Thread onto skewers and grill/broil for 15-20 minutes, turning regularly, until lightly charred and cooked through. Remove from the skewers and set aside to make the sauce.
- Heat the oil for the sauce over medium-high heat, Add the onion and cook until softened and golden.
- Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until golden. Add the tomato puree and spices and cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
- Add the yogurt and lemon juice, as well as chicken, and stir in gently. Cook gently until warm and season to taste.
You could use other meat instead for this curry recipe, such as beef, pork, or lamb. You could also use a vegetarian chicken substitute if you prefer.
To add more veg, try adding 1/2 a diced red pepper with the onion, and a handful of frozen peas with the yogurt.
Nutrition InformationYield 1 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 619Total Fat 34gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 26gCholesterol 280mgSodium 1088mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 3gSugar 11gProtein 63g
All nutrition values are an estimate and will vary.