English / Indian Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

This Indian Style Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe is all about making England’s national dish. And doing this cross-cultural classic, the Anglo Indian Chicken Tikka Masala recipe the full justice it deserves!

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According to Historic UK, curry first made its way to the UK in the 18th century, featuring in cafes and restaurants as early as 1733.

A symbol of Britain’s willingness to embrace the new and the exciting, welcoming influences from other cultures and adapting to new ideas, the curry became entrenched in British culture, evolving and growing as much here in the UK as it would in its own native country. If not in many ways more.

As a result of our fascination with the dish, we tried our hand at it ourselves. We created, with, one has to assume, varying degrees of success, all manner of curry-like dishes of our very own.

To that period of experimentation, we owe modern classics like the jalfrezi and the balti. The former is said to have been created by the British in India and the latter to have first seen the light of day in Birmingham.

How true those stories is is uncertain. Equally so is the history of the Chicken Tikka Masala, the dish we’ll be making today.


There is a story said to be the origin of the dish, in which a chef is confronted with a customer who wants something more exciting made of his chicken tikka kebab. In response, the chef quickly builds a sauce from tomatoes and yogurt and offers it to the man.

I have read multiple versions of this story. In one the man is Pakistani and his restaurant is in Scotland. In another, he is Bangladeshi and his restaurant in London.

I have even read a version in which both the man and his restaurant are Indian. And the dish he puts forward is a take on the well known classic Murgh Makhani. Or butter chicken, as we more commonly know it here in England. (Just as a side note, you’ll find my Murgh Makhani recipe right here!)

Whatever the origin, the dish quickly gained popularity and is now one of Britain’s most popular curries. More than that, it’s now one of our most popular dishes. So much so that it has overtaken the likes of Shepherd’s Pie and Fish & Chips to become the national dish of our country.

About the dish

Certainly, one element of the above story rings true in the nature of the dish. Marinated chicken forms the protein of the dish, bringing a tender, salty, flavoursome bite, more satisfying than simply cooked chicken.

With that chicken, a sauce made with tomatoes and some form of dairy. As well as an assortment of simple spices that bring flavour and fragrance without overwhelming.

In many ways it’s a very easy going dish. The term comfort food would be very appropriate in this instance.

The creamy, tomato based sauce is familiar and accessible. As well as being especially easy on the tongue.


It screams to our western palates of rich, Italian Ragu, of Bolognese and Lasagne.

The spices are mild, but enough to make it distinct from those dishes. They take the familiar and dare it to be more exotic.

The spices vary from version to version. As the story behind the dish indicates, little detail is there to be held true to in the making of the sauce.

When it is served, the pieces of chicken tikka are stirred into the sauce and a tasty, simple dish is born. One with the necessary depth and complexity to bring excitement, but one warming and safe enough not to push our boundaries too far.

In short, on a painfully self-aware level, it’s wonderfully English.

A quick guide – English / Indian Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

We’ll begin by dicing up the chicken. You want big chunks, satisfying to bite into and big enough to cook crisp on the outside without drying out inside.

We’ll make a marinade from yogurt, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, chilli, turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika and fenugreek. We’ll then coat the chicken in the marinade and leave it in the fridge for a few hours to do its thing.

While it does said thing, we’ll caramelise some onions and cook out some spices. A little more coriander, chilli, fenugreek, cumin and turmeric should do the trick, along with the addition of some cardamom and garam masala.


We’ll also add a little garlic and ginger paste at the end and quickly cook that through before adding the tomatoes and reducing. You can blend the sauce at this stage as well, although it isn’t strictly necessary. I think it works with this dish though.

While that reduces, we’ll cook our chicken. We will do that by either grilling (broiling) the chicken skewers or by barbecuing them, to add to the smoky flavour.

I’ve served them separately, but traditionally, the grilled pieces of meat would then be added and stirred into the sauce at the end, which will also have been combined with a little yogurt or cream for body and smoothness.

English / Indian Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

A few final things to remember

  • The same sauce would work with simple pieces of diced chicken. Or in fact any protein you like.
  • You can use yogurt or cream to soften the dish at the end. Or you could take a leaf out of Murgh Makhani’s book and add an extra dollop of butter.
  • Like I mentioned above, I’ve served it with the chicken tikka skewers on the side, rather than as a whole dish. But it would traditionally come whole, so serve it as you see fit.
  • The marinade time is flexible. As long as you give it a couple of hours or more, you’ll be ok. Although I wouldn’t recommend leaving it for more than 24 hours or so, purely because I don’t know what happens!
English / Indian Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

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Chicken Saag Recipe – Another saag. Not a spinach and paneer curry this time, but a chicken and paneer one. Equally tasty. Extra meaty.

Passanda Sauce Recipe – An Authentic Leftover Chicken Curry – The sexiest, creamiest, butteriest, chickeniest curry I’ve ever made and an absolute personal favourite.

Goan Lamb Curry – Another of Goa’s beautiful curries. This time a delicious vindaloo style lamb dish!

The Best Indian Flatbread Recipe – The best Indian flatbreads you’ve ever seen. Seriously.

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English / Indian Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

English / Indian Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Ed Chef
This Indian Style Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe is all about making England's national dish. And doing this cross-cultural classic, the Anglo Indian Chicken Tikka Masala recipe the full justice it deserves!
Prep Time 6 hrs
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Dinner, main, Main Course
Cuisine English, Fusion, Indian
Servings 2



  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • Yogurt full fat
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2 inches Ginger
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin ideally powder, but whole seeds would suffice
  • 2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Fenugreek Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • Salt


  • 2 tbsp Butter or ghee
  • Oil
  • 1 med Onion
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds or powder
  • 4 Cardamom Pods
  • 1/2 tsp Fenugreek Powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2 inches Ginger
  • 2 tbsp Honey or sugar to taste
  • Yogurt or cream
  • Lemon or Lime optional
  • Fresh Coriander
  • Salt



  • Add some yogurt to a bowl, enough to (very) comfortably coat all of the chicken. To that yogurt, add about a tbsp lemon juice, 3 finely diced cloves of garlic, 2 inches of ginger, peeled and finely diced, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp cumin, 2 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp fenugreek powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and some salt. Stir everything together,
  • Dice the chicken into big, but biteable pieces and add it to the bowl with the marinade, then stir to coat and submerge, then leave to marinade for at least a couple of hours, but ideally 4 – 6.


  • While the chicken marinades, finely dice the onion and set it aside. Do the same with the remaining ginger and garlic. You can mix the latter two together and set them aside together.
  • Toast the cardamom pods and any whole seeds you might be using in a dry pan on a high heat and grind them into a powder with a pestle and mortar. Add the remaining chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and fenugreek powder, and combine.


  • Add some oil and butter to a medium pan and caramelise the onions with some salt. Cook them on a medium heat for about 10 minutes, before adding the dry spices, giving them a good stir and a minute or two on the heat, then the ginger and garlic.
  • After another minute or so cooking the ginger and garlic, add the chopped tomatoes and reduce the whole thing down until you have enough sauce for two portions.
  • Once it’s sufficiently reduced, add some more butter (optional) and some yogurt, then stir together with some honey and any additional salt you require. You can even throw in some lemon or lime juice here if you like.

Grill & Serve

  • Once the sauce is thick enough, skewer the chicken pieces and tap off any surplus marinade. Although not all of it, obviously! Grill them until they’re cooked through and blacken slightly all over, then either serve separately or add them to the sauce.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander and serve.
Keyword authentic thai yellow chicken curry, butter chicken, chicken tikka, chicken tikka masala, english chicken tikka masala, how long to marinade chicken, indian chicken tikka masala, tikka masala

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