How To Make Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala recipe

Homemade chicken tikka masala

Chicken tikka masala is my kids’ all time favourite curry. They aren’t into spicy food so this and chicken korma are often on our evening menu. This recipe is the result of many visits to curry house kitchens. I have watched it be made many times and of course made it myself hundreds times more.

If you are a chicken tikka masala fan, this one is probably the best out there. I’ve had some great teachers. Now I would like you to be able to make this hugely popular mild curry too.

Many chicken tikka masalas are very sweet. I don’t personally care for overly sweet curries but if that’s what you like, add more sugar or honey. That will do the job.

Preparing Ahead

All of the authentic Indian restaurant style curry recipes on my site use a base curry sauce. There is a link to my recipe below.

Most restaurants use tandoori style chicken for chicken tikka masala. Here is my recipe.

Making chicken tikka masala

The ingredients you need.

Making chicken tikka masala

Start by melting your ghee.

Making chicken tikka masala

Add the spices and fry for about 20 seconds. Then add the garlic and ginger paste.

Making chicken tikka masala

Pour in the heated base curry sauce.

Making chicken tikka masala

In goes the tandoori chicken. 

Making chicken tikka masala

Stir the chicken into the sauce and then add the tomato paste.

Making chicken tikka masala

Pour in the cream.

Making chicken tikka masala

Add the red food colouring if using.

Chicken tikka masala

Finish by adding a squeeze or two of lemon juice and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken tikka masala recipe

All done! Dig in.



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I recommend serving this chicken tikka masala with plain white rice and another curry such as chicken korma or my mildly spiced pork patia.

5.0 from 15 reviews
How To Make Chicken Tikka Masala Like They Do In The Indian Restaurants
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Curry house
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
I like to marinate the chicken for 48 hours. You could get away with an hour or two but the longer you marinate the chicken the better.
  • 800g Tandoori chicken tikka (A link to my recipe is above)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 700ml heated base curry sauce
  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 tablespoon red food colouring powder (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small bunch fresh chopped coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of one lemon
  1. Heat the ghee/oil in a large pan or wok over medium high heat
  2. When bubbling hot, add the cumin, turmeric, coriander powder, fenugreek leaves and garam masala.
  3. Stir the spices around in the hot oil for about 30 seconds and then add the tomato paste and garlic and ginger paste.
  4. Continue stirring all the ingredients for another 30 seconds and then add the heated curry sauce.
  5. Bring to a simmer and add your chicken tikka.
  6. Simmer for about a minute and pour in the cream and red dye if using.
  7. Add the butter and stir until it melts into the sauce.
  8. Stir in the fresh coriander, season with salt and pepper and finish with a squeeze or two of lemon.



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  1. says

    this looks fantastic – my husband’s favorite…maybe a Valentine’s Day treat!

    Quick question on your curry gravy: The recipe you link to makes “8 main course servings” – would one serving be the 3 c. you call for tikka masala?

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Liz

      Thanks for stopping by.

      I have now corrected that. The sauce makes enough for approximately eight curries. Each of my British Indian restaurant (BIR) curries like this chicken tikka masala serves 3 to 4 people. The leftover curry gravy freezes very well.

      Thanks for trying the recipe. Let me know how it goes. :)

  2. MIchael Gardner says

    I can’t seem to find a garam masala recipe on your site – I have a a couple of versions I bought from Indian Grocers but they all seem to differ somewhat and I’d like to make my own as I’m buying a spice grinder next week (Yessss…) so I can also make your Tandoori mix and Curry Powder. Any hints?

  3. Dave Piggott says

    Hi, I would like to make this recipe as it’s my families favourite, tho some recipes I have seen talk about coconut, perhaps half a cup added at the end?
    Love you site!

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Dave

      Thank you. I have read and tried hundreds of different chicken tikka masala recipes. It seems no two are the same. I love a bit of coconut in this curry. My kids aren’t convinced so I leave it out. If you add 1/2 cup of coconut milk at the end it would taste great.

  4. Jason says

    I try this last night done this and the madras, previously done the gravy the night before, loved it was the best curry I have made, easy to follow steps and I’m beginner cook so must be easy. Thanks.

  5. Erafrey says

    Thank you for taking the time to share this recipe, for the time it takes to develop this whole website, I have cooked this particular recipe and have not tasted better. I am sharing recommending to my family and friends, to come here for recipes and other information. Good on ‘ya mate… well done :-)

    • Dan Toombs says

      Thank you very much Erafrey! It comments like that that make all the blogging worthwhile. I’m really glad you liked the recipe.

  6. Gillian says

    I made your chicken tikka Marsala this evening for the first time. It is absolutely lovely and so easy. Thank you.

  7. says


    Just to say thanks agian for your great recipes. Made Tikka Masala as above at my very first attempt and it was absolutely delicious.

    Just as you’ve said, it tasted like a real British Indian Restaurant Curry.



    • Dan Toombs says

      Thank you very much Jon for your nice words and feedback. I’m really happy you liked the recipes.


    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Remi

      Thanks for your question and leaving a comment.

      The newer of the two chicken tikka masala recipes is closer to what you would find in an Indian restaurant. The other was written about a year ago and is much closer to authentic Indian cooking. Personally I think both are really nice but if you are going for the takeaway look and flavour, go with the latest version.

  8. Michelle says

    Wow – I’m so glad I found your site. I love it. Problem is that the sirloin steak I’ve been looking forward to all day suddenly doesn’t seem so appealing!

    Note to self… Do not look at anything on this website after the dinner’s gone in. Ever! Even if it’s that wonderful, low temperature cooked steak. The one that always cooks to perfection and looks like something out of an M&S food advert. Even if it’s also going to have that amazing mushroom, chili, garlic, bacon and cream sauce! No. Don’t do it. You’ll just want curry instead!

  9. Rosco says

    Hi Dan,

    Once again you are the man. I have been experimenting with cooking Curry for around 15 years now and the recipes on your website are far superior to any others. I cooked the Chicken Tikka Masala tonight and my wife & kids couldn’t get enough.
    Just wondering if you would have a recipe for Indian style Spiced & Grilled fish. An indian friend of mine which I have lost contact with now cooked it for us one night and it was amazing.
    Thanks for sharing all your fantastic recipes, I look forward to future posts.



  10. Metharb says

    Pre cooking chicken is a restaurant time saver and should never be done at home !!

    If you stop trying to be Indian take aways at home your food will enter another dimension.

    Indian restaurant chef Birmingham UK

    • Dan Toombs says

      I agree with you Metharb. I just want to explain how it is done in most Indian restaurants. Many people like that Indian restaurant flavour! I also have a lot of authentic Indian recipes on my site. :-)

    • Dan Toombs says

      Thanks. You don’t have to pre-cook the chicken. Only if you’re in a hurry. I love to cook it in a tandoor oven. Enjoy.

  11. Kev says

    Hi Dan ,just finished base and pre cooked chicken so that I can cook it later ,even at this stage house smells like a Birmingham Balti House.I make a similar base for baltis .One thing though when I liquidised the garlic and ginger I found that 1/2 pint of water was to much to make a paste .We are all looking forward to this one though

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Kev – Thanks for trying the recipe. I do usually use less water when making pastes. I’ve found thought that it works ok in the curry sauce as it is cooked quite long and the water evaporates. That said, I will try less next time. :-)

      Thanks and I hope it all goes well for you.

  12. Nixie says

    oooh this looks good, I cannot wait to try and make it… I will get some ingredients sorted and give it a try – thank you for posting it up, I’m glad I’ve found your website! :) Nixie

  13. Ian Inglis says

    Hi Dan, This dish looks great! One thing though, I’m not a fan of tomato puree as it seems to impart a ‘burnt’ flavour to dishes. Maybe I’m using an inferia type? I’m guessing homemade tomato paste would be ok instead? Could you let us know which brand of tomato puree you use? Many thanks :) Ian.

  14. Annie says

    Hi Dan,
    Just got to tell you that your recipes are fabulous! The only problem is that we now eat so much curry, that my part of Hertfordshire has now moved to India! I want to get a spice grinder and not sure which type to buy. What would you recommend? Kind regards Annie

    • Dan Toombs says

      Thank you very much Annie. Really glad you like the recipes.

      I use a Krupps grinder and it works really well. Any good quality coffee grinder will do the job though. Don’t spend more than about £20.00.


  15. Mick says

    Hi Dan,
    Thanks for all your endeavors mate, great job. Question, do you have the mint yogurt recipe famously served in the Indian restaurant with Shish Kebabs and Popadoms.

    Much appreciated.


  16. Grant says

    Hi Dan,
    Living in New Zealand for 12 yrs, orig. from Zimbabwe, I have found very few C.T.Masalas that I like. I have been following yr blog for the past year and only now have I tried one of yr recipes. I decided to cook it for work last week for my monthly lunch contribution, what can I say, it was very very good, thank you :) Please could you tell be what the cabbage does to it, I love your site and will be cooking much more recipes of yours in the future, thanks again for sharing your cooking skills.


    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Grant

      Thanks very much for that. I’m really glad you tried and liked the recipe. The cabbage idea was given to me by the ex chef of my local tandoori recipe. It adds very little flavour but does thicken the sauce and it’s nice to have the extra vegetables.

      I think is does add to the sauce a little so if you have it on hand, use it. If not, don’t let that stop you from making a batch.


  17. Natalie says

    Hi Dan

    You are a savior! Am a Scot now living in the USA and tried a few other recipes on the net with not a lot of sucess before coming across your site. My husband and my dinner party guests loved this! I am making it this weekend again (currently making your naans as a trial run) but the guests this weekend prefer milder curry – can you tell me how to make it milder if that isn’t a silly question? Less curry powder? Thanks a lot in advance and well done on your fab site.

    • Dan Toombs says

      Thank you Natalie. I’m really glad you liked the recipes. Yes, you’re right… Just cut down on the chilli! :-)


  18. Lottie says

    Hi Dan,
    I’ve been searching for a while and can’t track down fenugreek leaves. Is there anything I can substitute for them?
    Thanks a lot

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Lottie – Just leave them out. They are nice but as long as the other ingredients are there, you won’t miss the fenugreek.


      • Shelj says

        Hi ,
        Just to say Lottie Fenugreek is called Methi in Punjabi so most asian shops will have it listed as that, hope this helps

  19. simon says

    Hi Dan, i have made about 5 different c t mos dishes and none of them have come close to yours, taste texture and presentation were all spot on. 5 stars from the wife too. Thanks.

  20. Euan says

    Thanks so much, I have been living in China for a few years now and curry is my favourite meal but just can’t seem to find a good curry anywhere in the place where I live…so thanks so much for sharing your skills. You’re a legend! Just hope the ingredients will be easy enough to find! Keep up the good work!!! Bless you and your family. Wish you go from success to success!!!

  21. Louise says

    Hey Dan
    Cooked this one today…… a lover of Indian Cuisine and having been praised for my previous curries I am totally in awe of you recipes……I think I may have quite a hot chili powder because it came out much hotter than a takeaway tikka masala….but that was fine for me….I usually ask them to make mine hotter anyway… partner just added more yoghurt….I made it really red like a take away as well which is so pretty…..I know it is a British invention but it is one of my favourites…..Thanks again.

  22. Neil says

    Thanks for this! Tikka Masala in a jar just isn’t right. Just put the chicken chunks in the fridge to marinate. It won’t get 48hrs but it should get a good 16-18. Can’t wait to get the sauce done and give it a try now.

    Only had dried garlic and ginger so it won’t be perfect but should still be tasty. Also didn’t have clove powder but hoping I get away with it. Going to chuck in 1/2 cup of coconut milk at the end as per your suggestion.

    • Neil says

      Update: Beautiful curry. Mild, creamy, perfect for my spiceaphobe mum. The chicken after 14hrs or so marinading was out of this world. My sauce ended up a little bitter. Not sure where I went wrong there, perhaps extra juicy lemons? but a tablespoon extra of sugar brought it around. I need to be more careful next time.

      If I wasn’t cooking for my mum after her foot op I’d have been happy just to use the gorgeous pre-marinade sauce but it was too hot for her. Make sure you give it a try anyone attempting this recipe!

      • Dan Toombs says

        Thanks for that Nell. Great to hear you got the sauce just right in the end. It does take some experimentation from time to time.


  23. says

    We as a family have just finished our first proper tikka masala meal from raw ingredients and not out of a jar! Firstly I would just like to say what a buzz I got from cooking it and my ten year old son helped and loved it too!
    I marinated the chicked over night and it was out of this world and succulent, when removed from the oven it looked amazing, tandoori chicken!
    The flavour was great but could be dabbled with to suit individuals tastes!

    Our local curry house tikka masala is a lot sweeter than this version,
    what would we add to get a sweeter taste?

    sugar?, syrup? coconut?
    I am thinking of throwing all three of them in next time!
    That is what I love about curries, you just cannot be wrong!

    • Dan Toombs says

      So true. Really glad you liked the recipe. Yes, sugar will do the job just fine. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but my kids do and they add sugar when cooking. Some chicken tikka masalas have coconut milk while others don’t. I like to add it sometimes and it will make the curry sweeter.


  24. Adam D says

    Hi Dan
    I tried your chicken tikka masala from your e book last night. I found that curry was over-spiced even though i decreased the spices by 1/3. It differed significantly in taste from the tikka masala in Kris Dillon’s The Curry Secret which I liked a lot (I’m new to BIR cooking). Yours has about five or six times more the quantity of total spices (cumin, coriander, curry powder, garam masala etc) as well as a more flavoured basic curry sauce. My questions:
    Have you since revised this recipe at all?
    Or do you have any advice on how I could amend your ebook tikka masala recipe?

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Adam

      It’s all a personal thing. My recipe was shown to me by a chef whose food I really like. Why not leave all of the chilli out and then sprinkle it in slowly at the end or not at all.


  25. Andrew says

    I loved the recipe, especially how you cook the chicken. I will be doing it this way all the time now.

    The only thing for me was mine was very thick so I wondered if I did something wrong. I did try and cook it on a low heat but it was still thick. I wondered if I would be able to add some water to the tomato to achieve this so it looks a bit more like it does in the picture?

  26. Tony says

    Hi dan love this recipe, tried to make it red as in the picture I’ve put red dye in but I can not get it like yours , I’ve heard beetroot juice is good. Any ideas?

    • Dan Toombs says

      Beetroot juice is a good alternative to red dye. You may want to use a little more. To be honest, I rarely colour it at all. There is no added flavour.


  27. Jensen says

    Looking to try this recipe, just a bit uneasy about adding marinade to the sauce.
    Also can’t find fenugreek leaves, will it matter much?

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Jenson

      Don’t worry about adding marinade to the sauce. Just be sure to cook it at a high temp for a few minutes so that it cooks all the raw chicken juices. If you can’t find fenugreek leaves, try a pinch of fenugreek powder. Not too much though as it is a lot stronger than the leaves. You could leave it out too.


  28. Zoe Hermitage says

    Just made the marinade and put the chicken in and placed in the fridge for 48 hrs ready for my hubby on Wednesday and I’m sure I’ve used way too much fenugreek (only had powdered and used a couple of teaspoons) is there anything I can do to rescue it ! Really don’t want to waste it by binning it.

    • Dan Toombs says

      Sorry Zoe

      It sounds like you did use too much. Fenugreek powder is quite potent. Double or triple the recipe. You may even need to make more than that. It freezes well though.


  29. stacey says

    hi iv’e just made this (this is the first curry iv’e made ) and when it was nearly done i tasted it and it was lovely! left on low heat to keep warm whilst rice finished cooking, and now the taste of lemon is over powering iv’e looked through the recipe again but i cant think what i have done wrong ? is there anyone with a bit of knowledge who can help me please? tanks stacey xx

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Stacey

      If you add a little water or stock and simmer a while longer, the flavour of the lemon will reduce. Hope this helps.


  30. Sophie says

    Hi Dan!

    I just made your chicken tikka and it was the best curry I’ve made so far! I left out the red food colouring and used a vibrant red tandoori spice powder instead, which went on the raw chicken first before the rest of the marinade ingredients and it stained the chicken red. I also added some cardomon pods and a few whole cloves as I didn’t have any ground cloves- just got to take them out at the end. Loved opening the oven to see my chicken looked just like the tandoori chicken from my local curry house!
    Thanks so much for the recipe, I will be checking out your other ones!


    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Craig

      Slow cooker curries aren’t as good but you could mix all these ingredients in the slow cooker. It will still be one heck of a lot better than a ready meal.


  31. Kay says

    Hi Dan, loving the Chesni, Dansak and now want to try CTMarsala, I was wondering if I could use the Curry Gravy Base and just add the spices and butter to that or would you advise not to.

    Kindest Regards Kay

    Ps. Converted my mum to Indian flavours and she even preferred your two Dishes I mentioned above to a shop bought third dish, saying definetly cook them two again for me but that one not keen on at all, I was well chuffed.

    • Kay says

      I’ve just re-read your instructions and silly me you had answered my question in them. Senior moment no doubt.!!

      Thank you for sharing your lovely recipes.

      Regards Kay

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Kay

      I have recently updated my CTM recipe with loads of step by step photos. These should answer all your questions.

      Thank you.


  32. ROSS says

    I am the worst cook in the world , my family almost fainted when they tasted this awesome dish. Complete beginner in the kitchen but I followed the instructions and it turned out amazing. Thanks

    • Dan Toombs says

      Yes. There is quite a lot of sauce anyway so you could probably double the chicken but just make a little more sauce.


  33. John says

    I have been making my own curries for years, using online recipes, but somehow managed to miss yours.
    I haven’t even made any yet yet but I bought your book “How To Make British Indian Restaurant Style Meals” on the kindle, as I can tell just by reading the recipes they are going to be delicious.
    I’ve just finished getting a batch of chicken tikka ready and marinading, will be making my first large batch of curry sauce on the weekend and thought I might try the tikka masala first up.
    I noticed there are some differences between the online recipes and those in the book, which ones are more up to date ?
    Also in the comments someone talks about adding the leftover marinade to the sauce, this step isn’t mentioned in the recipe, so do you recommend this or not ?


    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi John

      Thank you for purchasing my book. I try to update the book with the latest recipe. You can definitely use the leftover marinade to add more flavour. Just ensure that you bring it to a bubble so that any raw chicken is cooked off. I’m going to be updating all of my ebooks shortly with new recipes and photos. As you have already purchased it, the updates are free. :-)

      Thank you.

  34. Pomgolian Jen says

    Thanks for your great website. I am a curry-loving Brit who has been living in Western Australia for the past decade and cannot find a good curry to match the amazing ones back home. I finally found your site yesterday and started out with the curry base gravy made into chicken korma (which was always my control dish for comparing new restaurants in the UK). It came out beautifully, mild, creamy and genuinely flavoursome. We ate far too much, it was so good, but went to bed fat but happy!
    One thing to mention – my gravy and resulting korma sauce was slightly too bitter too. Funnily enough, salt counteracts bitterness, so make sure you add some salt (not just increasing the sugar too much) if anyone experiences this issue.
    Thanks again for all your hard work. Next we will be trying this CTM which the children will LOVE! Jen

    • Dan Toombs says

      Thanks so much Jen. Glad you liked the recipe. Good advice too. People are reading these recipes from all over the world so measure may be different depending on the product used. I really appreciate you feedback.


  35. Darren says

    When you say 4 tbsp garlic and ginger paste do you mean 4 of each or a combination ie say 2 of each?

  36. rob says

    Brilliant recipe and tastes amazing. But how do I now get rid of that curry smell? Been fighting it nearly a week now

  37. John says

    Your site is fantastic, im currently making this recipe over a couple days with my kids for a school project they’re doing. so far so good – I can tell its going to be a pretty special curry this one! Thanks

  38. will says

    You have paprika in the recipe ,but you don’t say when to add it to the curry ,I add it with the other spices,hope its right, taste brilliant anyway cheers

  39. kitty says

    Hi there so interested in making the tikka curry.can you recommend a red dye to make that vibrant red colour with thanks ☺

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Kitty

      Thank you. I use a red food colouring powder by Balah. I’ve used others though with equally good results. Good luck and I hope you enjoy the recipe.


  40. Guillaume Kiefer says

    Hey !

    I tried a lot of BIR CTM from many sources but this one was by far the best I ever tried !!!
    I’m from France and french indian restaurants never use coconut in their recipes..And CTM there is no more sugar than in other curries..I’m now convinced that coconut has not to be used in this recipe…And there is no need to add too many sugar too.

  41. Steve W says

    New to your site. Made the base sauce already and looking forward to trying a Dhansak first although my son wants this CTM! Not sure who will win. Perhaps you could kindly point me in the right direction as I can’t source all the spices from my local supermarket. There are lots of on line companies. Who do you find the best for quality and value?

    Thanks again for the recipes.



    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Steve

      Thank you very much. Try East End Foods. They have an online shop and their spices are excellent quality. There is a link to their shop on the right hand side of my shop. These are the spices I use.


  42. peter ellis says

    im making your chicken tikka masala,and have made the base curry sauce,and am now marinating the chicken..will leave for another 24 hrs before finishing of the meal…as it makes allot of portions,will it be ok to cool and freeze for later dates

    loving the dishes and will be trying many of them


    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Peter

      Thank you. The curry actually gets better if you leave it over night. It also freezes well for up to two months.


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