The Ultimate Makeover: Chicken tikka masala

The Ultimate Makeover: Chicken tikka masala

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(21 ratings)

Prep: 35 mins Cook: 30 mins Plus at least 30 mins marinating


Serves 4
You'll love Angela Nilsen's version of this classic Indian favourite - it tastes authentic but is far lighter and healthier

Nutrition and extra info

  • Sauce can be frozen
  • Healthy

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal396
  • fat10g
  • saturates2g
  • carbs33g
  • sugars8g
  • fibre4g
  • protein45g
  • salt1.05g
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    For the marinade

    • 4-5cm piece ginger, peeled



      Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

    • 4 plump garlic cloves
    • 3 tbsp natural yogurt
    • 2 tsp lime juice
    • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
    • ½ tsp each hot chilli powder, garam masala and paprika (use ¼ tsp of each if you prefer a milder flavour)
    • ¼ tsp turmeric
    • 1 tsp each cumin and coriander seeds
      Coriander seeds

      Coriander seed

      kor-ee-and-er seed

      The small, creamy brown seeds of the coriander plant give dishes a warm, aromatic and slightly…

    • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
      Fenugreek seed

      Fenugreek seed

      fenn-you-greek seed

      A popular seed in Indian cookery, in which it's termed methi, this small, hard, mustard…

    • 600g skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 4cm chunks

    For the sauce

    • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
      Rapeseed oil

      Rapeseed oil

      If you want a light alternative to other cooking oils, rapeseed is a great choice and has…

    • 2 onions, halved lengthways, sliced into rough, thin wedges



      Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

    • ½ tsp each paprika, turmeric and garam masala
      Garam masala

      Garam masala

      gar-am mah-sarl-ah

      Meaning 'warming spice mix', garam masala is the main spice blend used in North Indian…

    • ¼ tsp hot chilli powder (leave this out if you'd prefer a milder flavour)
    • 2 tbsp tomato purée
    • 2 tbsp natural yogurt

    For the rice

    • 250g basmati rice
    • 200g frozen peas



      A type of legume, peas grow inside long, plump pods. As is the case with all types of legume,…

    To serve

    • handful coriander leaves, chopped
    • lime wedges



      The same shape, but smaller than…


    1. For the marinade, finely grate the ginger and garlic (you should have 1 rounded tbsp of each), then mix them together. Put half of this mix into a medium bowl, then stir in the yogurt, lime juice, chopped coriander, chilli, garam masala, paprika and turmeric. Heat a small heavy-based dry pan, tip in the cumin, coriander and fenugreek seeds, then heat briefly until toasted and smelling fragrant (they will start to jump in the pan). Remove and grind to a powder using a pestle and mortar. Stir half into the yogurt mix (save the rest for the sauce). Stir the chicken chunks into the spiced yogurt until well coated. Cover and leave to marinate for at least 30 mins, or overnight if you like.

    2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onions, then fry over a medium heat for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until softened and turning brown. Stir in the remaining ginger and garlic, and stir-fry for 2 mins. Mix in the paprika, turmeric, garam masala, chilli and the rest of the toasted cumin, coriander and fenugreek. Cook for 1 min, stirring to scrape up the bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomato purée, then 150ml water. Cook for 1 min. Carefully transfer to a food processor or blender. Process to a thick, fairly smooth sauce. Return to the pan, pour in another 150ml water, then set aside. Can be made a day ahead. Soak the rice in cold water for up to 30 mins.

    3. Heat the grill to high. Thread the chicken onto 8 wooden skewers (soaked first), then balance them across a baking tray lined with foil, so they are slightly raised over it. Grill for 12-15 mins until cooked and slightly charred around the edges. Meanwhile, drain the rice, then tip into a pan with 375ml water. Bring to a boil, then cook over a low heat, covered, for 8 mins. Remove from the heat but leave covered for 5 mins. Cook the peas in boiling water for 3 mins, drain. Fluff up the rice with a fork, then toss in the peas.

    4. When ready to serve, reheat the sauce, stirring in any juices from the chicken and a drop more water to thin if necessary (it should be quite thick). Remove from the heat, stir in the yogurt, then season with a pinch of salt. Serve the chicken skewers with the rice, a scattering of coriander and lime wedges.

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    Comments (31)

    love2eat's picture

    A hit with the whole family, and the leftover sauce was good over pasta the next day.
    Definitely worth the effort, and even if you don't do the whole yoghurt marinade, then the tomato sauce part is quick and easy, and could easily be adapted with different herbs for different dishes. If there's one thing I would do differently, though, it would be to cook the garlic in with the tomato sauce, rather than putting it in the marinade - just to mellow the flavour a little.

    grimer's picture

    I have to disagree with the cooking method - add the tumeric *after* you have used the food processor, otherwise it will stain the plastic yellow.

    Other than that, not a bad recipe - although it is very similar to 'The curry secret'.

    nixie1's picture

    this was beautiful :)
    even nicer than the takeaway and worth the faff

    louvan's picture

    We weren't very keen on this; would rather have the full fat version less often.

    annmucc's picture

    I was first introduced to Chicken Tikka Masala via the premade sauces you find in supermarkets. I agree, not the most auspicious introduction, but I liked it. However, those sauces are totally unhealthy so we have looked at maybe making it ourselves at home. So far most of our efforts have been disappointing at best, particularly on flavour. This recipe was the first time a homemade tikka masala recipe satisfied me on all counts. It was also not as greasy as the bought sauces, which is great. The only negative would be that it is not as quick and easy as most of the other recipes I have followed on here. A definite keeper though!

    sallsgaskell's picture

    This is one of the best lighter versions of this recipe I have tried, it was delicious. The kids tasted it too and it is now on the menu for Saturday nights as they loved it too!

    michelle-macdougall's picture

    I made this on Saturday, and was very impressed it was gorgeous, I've made a few different recipes of chicken tikka masala but I'd have to say this was the best one I've tried and the rice went perfectly.

    kingussie's picture

    Made this tonight. Flavours were really lovely and much healthier than takeaway. Def make this again and again.

    shirls1's picture

    I made this last night for the whole family and they loved it. You would never guess that it is superhealthy. The flavours were amazing and well worth the effort of preparing all the ingredients. A lot of it could be done in advance (even the day before) so it would be ideal for entertaining.

    rosie72's picture

    If you've got a bit of time on your hands and want something that is seriously good to make it worth your while, then this is it! Delicious and well worth making your own marinade, you really can taste the difference.
    Am going to attempt a veggie option for a new housemate using sweet potato, squash and anything else anyone can volunteer!

    starkusr's picture

    very involved but absolutely delicious! full of flavour, really enjoyed it as did the rest of the family! good chance to brush up on skills too as i have never make my own spice mix from seeds before...


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