Master the art of making restaurant-quality chicken tikka masala at home. This takeaway favourite combines smoky charred chicken and a delicately spiced tomato sauce.
One of the nation's favourite curry dishes, chicken tikka masala is often considered too complicated to replicate in the home kitchen. However, we've come up with a way of creating this Anglo-Indian classic by simplifying the tandoor cooking method and using various flavour tricks inspired by traditional Indian recipes.
10 tips for the perfect chicken tikka masala
1. Use thighs for succulence
2. Fresh spices are most aromatic
3. Marinate the meat
4. Char for tandoori flavour
5. Add the cooking juices
6. Use ghee or butter for richness
7. Passata for a smooth tomato base
8. Choose your shade of red
9. Crème fraiche for acidity and creaminess
10. Seasoning with garam masala
1. Thigh's the limit
In restaurants, tikka masala is usually made with chunks of breast meat, but thighs stay tender and juicy when slow-cooking.
2. New spice
Spices lose their aromatic qualities and taste dull when they're older, so try and use the freshest possible. We’ve used ground spices for convenience, but you can easily toast the whole seeds of the spices we’ve used and grind them yourself for the best flavour.
3. Prime time
Marinating the chicken thigh meat in a citrusy yogurt sauce for around 12 hours will give it a tender texture and a well-rounded flavour.
4. Char away
To replicate the intense heat of a tandoor oven, we’ve used a grill to char the chicken, but you could also use a very hot barbecue.
5. Added flavour
Adding the chicken juices from the grill tray and any leftover marinade adds flavour, so don't throw it away.
6. We say passata
We’ve taken the fuss out of skinning and chopping fresh tomatoes by simply using passata and giving it a tomato flavour boost with a squeeze of tomato puree.
7. Red alert
We achieved a red colour by using passata and tomato puree, but you can add a drop of red food colouring to make it more vibrant.
8. Use ghee
The recipe for tikka masala is based on butter chicken, so don’t be shy when using butter or Indian clarified butter (ghee), to make this dish.
9. Keep it fraiche
Single cream can be added, but we prefer the slight sourness you get from using crème fraiche.
10. Simple seasoning
Garam masala is often used as a seasoning, so it's added at the end, along with some smoked salt to add to the tandoor flavour we’re trying to replicate.
See the full recipe for our next level chicken tikka masala.
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