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Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Course Meal
Keyword Cayenne Pepper
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Resting Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 888kcal


For the chicken and its marinade

  • 3 chicken breasts boneless, skin on
  • 6 chicken thighs boneless, skin on
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt - full fat double thick
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice approximately the juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and mashed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 heaped teaspoons ground paprika
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 heaped tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

For the masala sauce

  • 4 fresh cayenne peppers finely chopped, seeds and all
  • 2 yellow onions medium-sized, peeled, and finely sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled and very finely sliced
  • 6 green cardamom pods slightly crushed
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground cilantro
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 can peeled and chopped tomatoes 14-ounce can
  • 2 heaped tablespoons tomato puree
  • 2 heaped teaspoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil – the odorless cooking type
  • 1 tablespoon butter - full fat salted
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 cups water
  • Good handful of fresh cilantro leaves very finely chopped, stalks and all – for garnish


Preparing the chicken and its marinade

  • This needs to happen at least 3 hours before you cook the chicken so that it really benefits from the flavors of the marinade.
  • Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and breasts and keep it aside. Cut the chicken into good bite-sized chunks and lightly stab them all over with the tip of a small sharp knife. This helps the chunks pick up the full flavors of the marinade.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients. Once well mixed, add the chicken and use your fingers to give the pieces a through marinade. Cover the bowl and set it in the refrigerator. This will allow you ample, leisurely time to make the sauce.

Making the masala sauce

  • Set a good-sized saucepan on a medium heat and add one level tablespoon butter and one of coconut oil. Now add the sliced onions, stir well, and drop the heat to low. You want the onions to turn a golden brown – but certainly not to crisp. So, cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add the sliced garlic. Cook for another two minutes to bring out the garlic’s flavor.
  • Now add all the sauce’s other ingredients – except the fresh cilantro and the heavy cream - and turn the heat to medium high. As soon as the sauce starts to bubble, drop the heat to low and cover the pan. You want the sauce to thicken as it gently simmers for about 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Time to return to the chicken.

Cooking the chicken

  • Remove all the chicken pieces from their marinade. Use your fingers to scrape off any excess marinade back into the mixing bowl.
  • Now thread the chicken onto four ten-inch bamboo skewers. You want the pieces to be tightly bunched-up on the skewers.
  • Set a large skillet onto a high heat and add three level tablespoons coconut oil. The oil needs to be hot enough to give the skewered chicken a hot-and-fast searing char on their outsides. You can test this by adding a few pieces of the chicken skin – if they curl and start to crisp almost immediately, the oil’s ready. As soon as the oil reaches that sort of sizzling temperature, drop the heat to medium high, and add all the remaining pieces of chicken skin. Stir them around so that their fat – and their flavor - melts into the hot oil. Good.
  • Add all four skewers to the skillet. It’s now a hot, fry-and-turn process for about eight minutes to get that crispy, dark golden char on the chicken. As soon as that happens, turn off the heat, remove the skewers from the skillet, and set them aside to cool slightly.
  • Now return the masala sauce to a medium-high heat and pour in all the remaining chicken marinade. Once it just starts to bubble, drop the heat to low, and stir in the heavy cream.
  • Remove the chicken pieces from their skewers and add the chicken to the sauce. Allow the pieces to cook in the barely simmering sauce for three minutes. Done. Ready to rapidly serve - with a garnishing sprinkle of finely chopped cilantro.


I like to present the chicken tikka masala in bowls, with warmed flat breads and some plain, boiled basmati rice on the side. I also enjoy some more of that thick, full fat yogurt – a couple of generous, well-heaped teaspoons are a grand topping for a fiery CTM.


Calories: 888kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 69g | Fat: 58g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Cholesterol: 309mg | Sodium: 1130mg | Potassium: 1548mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1453IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 183mg | Iron: 5mg