The Ultimate Makeover: Chicken tikka masala

The Ultimate Makeover: Chicken tikka masala

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(20 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 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

    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

    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

    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…

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  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)

skilbeckrich's picture

Having read previous reviews I increased the spice level and added some fresh chillies but still found this to be somewhat disappointing. It was ok but a touch watery and lacking depth. I don't think I'll be making it again, there are too many other curry recipes out there to try to give this one a second chance. Average!!

SElisabeth's picture

Agree with the comments regarding the flavour! When I looked at the reviews and saw "lacking flavour" I wondered how that could be with all the spices! But they were right. Had a nice general flavour but could do with a lot more spices.

laurabentley's picture

Loved this!

abcdefghijord's picture

Both myself and my OH absolutely love this! Such a great low fat and low calorie dinner! I have even taken to making two lots of marinade, using one for the curry and one a few days later just griddled with a side dish such as the 10-minute couscous salad also on here. So lovely after being marinated for a few days! Can't wait to use it on the BBQ too! Can't give enough great words to describe how lovely this recipe and marinade is! We have the curry with brown basmati rice but no peas. Not too keen on the idea of a curry with peas! I do not grill the chicken either, I fry it off but without any extra oil as the yogurt goes watery and acts as a barrier between the chicken and the pan. Weekly meal in our house, cannot get enough!!

abcdefghijord's picture

Made this a few times, good healthy take on the curry. I don't add the peas to the rice. I think the marinated grilled chicken would be perfect in a pitta bread with salad in the summer.

suegriff26's picture

Bit of a faff getting all the parts ready but was delish and worth the effort. Left chicken marinading for about 3 hours

liseyloo1972's picture

Found this recipe lacking in flavour.. Ended up doubling up the spices, adding red chilli and a half tsp of caster sugar made a great addition.

twar123's picture

This recipe is delicous! How can people not like it!'s picture

Not impressed. Followed the recipe to the letter, but we found it was bland and "diluted, despite all the spices.'s picture

Very disappointed with this. I followed the recipe to the letter the overall opinion was that it seemed "diluted", and bland, despite all the spices.

caroline1010_3's picture

I love making different types of curry and never buy any sauce in jars so I've got just about every spice going in my cupboard. We tried this last week and absolutely loved it and I'm making it again tonight. Debbie - we used fat free yoghurt as we are both trying to be good in the run up to Christmas, it wont separate if you let the sauce cool down for a while. Much better than the Indian from the take away, I'm not keen on neon red sauce! I have to say that I always use chicken thighs for curries, I find the meat doesn't dry out at all when grilling.

twar123's picture

This recipe is great! I have made it twice now for my family and they loved it! It is really worth the effort!

1irishlassie's picture

sorry forgot the rating !

1irishlassie's picture

Beautiful flavours in this although never seems to be hot enough ! had no fenugreek so put in mustard seeds and cardamon with some cinnamon in the sauce as i run out of garam masala quite fidddly to make finished of cooking chicken off of sticks as they would nt turn properly in the grill but will def make again better then the restaurant !!

10864288's picture

This was absolutely gorgeous. You would never have guessed that it was low fat.
I will definitely be making this recipe again -soon!

lindalu_21's picture

Well worth the effort, the flavour is very authentic but without all the oil and calories. I do add a little salt to the sauce which brings the flavour on just a little more and if you're not on a major health kick the marinade can be made with a little oil instead of yoghurt - gives it just a bit more of an authentic taste.

One of my favourite recipes!

heston's picture

Not very impressed with this recipe. I made it last night and won't be repeating the experience. I was expecting a delicious sauce, after all the preparation, but was sadly disappointed. I used half-fat creme fraiche instead of yoghurt which prevented the curdling appearance of the sauce. Edible, but definately not worth the time and effort!

kateclayton's picture

Debbie -Low fat Greek style yoghurt worked really well for me...I hope you like it too!

fattyno1's picture

Has anyone tried this with low fat yoghurt? I'm tempted but whenever I've used it in cooking I've been disappointed with the texture - low fat yoghurt tastes good but the 'curdled' appearance is off putting.

love2eat's picture

Sorry! Forgot to add a rating to my previous comment - it is, of course, a full 5 stars *****


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