Next-level tikka masala

Next level tikka masala

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(41 ratings)

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 3 hrs - 4 hrs Plus up to 24 hrs marinating

More effort

Serves 4

Who can resist the combination of smoky tandoor-charred chicken in a delicately spiced tomato-based sauce? Master the tikka masala with our ultimate version

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: Per serving

  • kcal646
  • fat45g
  • saturates22g
  • carbs21g
  • sugars17g
  • fibre4g
  • protein36g
  • salt1.31g
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  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs



    While it's the traditional Christmas bird, turkey is good to eat all year round, though…

  • 1 lime, juiced



    The same shape, but smaller than…

For the marinade

  • 2 large pieces ginger



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

  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 400ml Greek yogurt
  • pinch chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin



    An aromatic spice native to eastern Mediteranean countries and Upper Egypt. This warm,…

  • 1 tsp 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…

  • 1 tsp turmeric



    Turmeric is a fragrant, bright golden-yellow root that is most commonly seen and used dried and…

  • 1 small green chilli
  • red food colouring (optional)

For the sauce

  • 3 tbsp butter or ghee



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped



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

  • 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp powdered fenugreek
  • ½ tsp powdered paprika



    A spice that's central to Hungarian cuisine, paprika is made by drying a particular type of…

  • 4 cardamom pods, lightly bashed
  • 1 large piece cinnamon



    A fragrant spice which comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree. When dried, it curls into…

  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 50g ground almonds
  • pinch soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp malt vinegar
  • 680ml passata
  • 100ml crème fraîche or double cream
  • fresh coriander leaves, flaked almonds, garam masala and smoked salt (optional), to serve


  1. Remove the skin from the chicken and slash each thigh two or three times. Put into a bowl or plastic container and toss with the lime juice and 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside while you make the marinade.

  2. In a small food processor, blitz the ginger and garlic to make a paste, adding a splash of water if needed. Set aside half of the paste for the sauce. Tip the remaining marinade ingredients into the food processor, then blitz to a smooth paste. Pour the paste over the chicken and marinate for at least 4 hrs (overnight or 24 hrs is even better).

  3. To make the sauce, heat 2 tbsp of the ghee or butter in a large shallow pan with a lid. Cook the onions for 15 mins over a medium heat until starting to brown. Add the spices and remaining garlic and ginger paste, and cook for 2 mins. Stir in the tomato purée, ground almonds, a pinch of sugar and vinegar. Cook for about 1 min. Pour in the passata, then fill the jar or carton halfway up with water and add this too. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for 2-3 hrs until you have a thick, red sauce. Can be kept chilled in the fridge for up to 48 hrs while you marinate the chicken.

  4. Set the grill to its highest setting. Lift the chicken from the marinade, wiping off any excess back into the dish and reserve for the sauce. Arrange the chicken on a large baking tray cut-side up. Put under the grill for 10-15 mins until charred and starting to blacken. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside with the cooking juices. Reheat the sauce, adding the reserved marinade, then tip the chicken and any pan juices with the crème fraîche or cream into the curry sauce. Cook for 40 mins until the chicken is completely tender. Stir the remaining butter or ghee in at the end.

  5. Leave the curry to sit for a few mins, then season with the garam masala and smoked salt, if using. Sprinkle with coriander and flaked almonds, then serve with naan bread and rice, if you like.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Teresa21's picture
14th Apr, 2020
I've never been successful with making my own curry but this was tasty. I think the long cooking time is essential as the flavours develop but saying that I didn't have that much time so only cooked for about an hour. I didn't have fenugreek powder so left it out but have managed to get some for next time. I'd recommend making more than you need as leftovers are always welcomed and taste better.
2nd Apr, 2020
Delicious recipe! We used about 850gr of boneless skinless chicken thighs and marinated for about 5 hours. The simmering down of the sauce in step 3 took little less than an hour even though we had it at lowest heat with the lid slightly open (used a cast iron pan). Did not use food colouring find it very strange that that is in the recipe. Was a little bit more generous with the spices. Did not have a red chilli so used a teaspoon of sambal which is red chilli paste. I learned in a cooking course in India that you should chop the onion extremely fine so did that. My passata was a little less 540 ml, used a bit more water and even added a little later on to loosen the sauce a little bit. Used almond flour. What you actually need to do in this recipe does not take a lot of time and is very easy. It is just the marinating and simmering that takes long. Great recipe to make ahead
1st Apr, 2020
Delicious curry! What you need to doesn’t really take a lot of time it’s just the marinating and simmering. Great recipe to prepare ahead. I used about 850 gram of boneless skinless chicken thigh. I learned in a cooking class in India that the onion needs to be super super fine so did that here as well. I didn’t have a chilli so instead used a teaspoon of sambal (Indonesian red chilli paste). And I was slightly more generous with the spices. For me the simmering down of the sauce in step 3 was done in little less than an hour definitely did not need longer. Served with rice fresh coriander and flaked almonds. Next time will do some naan breads and raita as well.
Kevin White's picture
Kevin White
10th Jan, 2020
Great depth of flavour. Worth the time preparation. Would definitely make again.
Mike Shepherd's picture
Mike Shepherd
17th May, 2019
Very time-intensive but oh so worth it. I'll definitely be making this again.
25th Apr, 2018
Just made this exactly as the recipe but substituted olive oil for butter and used a cream substitute, but no food colouring. Was lovely. Only problem was that it was cooking all day and made us very hungry!!!!! Very easy to make, but time consuming.
Frantic Flapjack
24th Apr, 2018
My husband loved this. I used boneless chicken thighs but other than that followed the recipe exactly. The spices married really well and the end result was very enjoyable with a good clean flavour. You really don't need the food colouring! I left it out and my curry looked just the same as the picture above. Highly recommended.
11th Sep, 2019
I am wondering how spicy this recipe is.? My sister does not like spicy curries so want the flavour without too much heat. She usually orders this if we eat in an indian restaurant so wanted to have a go at making one for her at home...
2nd Apr, 2020
it is not a spicy curry and you could even leave out the one chilli that is in the recipe
ben.hall703's picture
23rd May, 2019
Possibly a foolish question, but when cooking for 40 minutes in Step 4 - is that just returning the pan to a gentle simmer on the hob for that time?
18th May, 2019
How can this be made veggie please?
goodfoodteam's picture
20th May, 2019
Thanks for your question. You can make the sauce as in step 3 and towards the end of the cooking time add vegetables of your choice, canned chickpeas or both. Alternatively, take a look at our veggie curry recipe for more suggestions:
Hayley Berry's picture
Hayley Berry
31st Mar, 2019
The recipe says 2tbs of light brown sugar but I can't see a mention of this in the instructions. It does mention a pinch of sugar. Please can you let me know where it goes. Thanks, Hayley
goodfoodteam's picture
16th Apr, 2019
Thanks for your question. The recipe only needs a pinch. We have amended the ingredients to reflect this. Thanks for pointing this out.
Heather mcc
29th Sep, 2018
Can you freeze this?
goodfoodteam's picture
3rd Oct, 2018
Thanks for your question. Yes, you can freeze this. All our freezable recipes are marked with a blue star above the nutritional information at the top of the recipe.
Chloe Beniston's picture
Chloe Beniston
18th Jan, 2020
I've found in a pinch that coconut milk works in lieu of the other dairy products in this recipe and adds natural sweetness which means that no added sugar is needed, similarly desiccated coconut can work in the place of ground almonds but does add a bitty texture which I enjoy but others may not, overall the main benefit is that these substitutes are cheaper and coconut milk is generally canned so it can be stored easier, either way an incredibly tasty recipe, however, I personally like to at least double the spices and add some chilli paste during cooking for a bit of extra kick
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