Chicken Tikka Masala – Punjab special

I love the Punjabi food ideology – whole milk, full fat, heavy cream. These guys really know how to eat. Tandoori chicken, butter chicken, chicken tikka, kebabs, shahi paneer, Rabri, Batoora, Kulfi – Cream, butter, Ghee, paneer their food is rich and lip-smacking. This is not to say they don’t make healthy everyday stuff which they do, but those don’t interest me as much as these cream and butter loaded goodies do. Most Tandoori dishes originated from the former undivided Punjab. Most restaurants carry many of these Punjabi dishes, proof of their universal appeal. The chicken tikka masala and butter chicken masala are legends. The tandoori roti deserves a life-time achievement award.

Among the most successful of all my state-wise recipe experiments and the most enjoyed one was this Chicken Tikka Masala. Chicken tikka masala has perfectly spiced chicken that is grilled and folded into a creamy, delicious onion-tomato based curry, laced with cream and butter. 

chicken tikka masala, ctm, chicken tikka,

Chicken Tikka Masala is one of the most popular british curries and I forget the number but several tonnes of it are sold every week. CTM as it is fondly called, although a recent adaptation, it is very much a Punjabi dish. I adapted Madhur Jaffrey’s chicken Tikka masala recipe from her book “Curry Nation” using her marinade as is but changing the curry slightly. It is a winner, no doubt. You can safely try this for the first time for a party without worrying about how it’ll turn out. It is perfect. But be mindful while grilling the chicken as it is very easy to overcook them.

chicken tikka masala, ctm, chicken tikka

Vegetarians, just switch paneer for the chicken and you have the wonderful paneer tikka masala. Just as delicious.

Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients – Marinade

Chicken – ½ kilo boneless pieces cut into small chunks
Ginger-Garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Fresh cream – 4 tbsp
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Kashmiri red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Ghee/Melted butter – 2 tsp
Salt as necessary

Ingredients – Curry paste

Onions – 2 medium chopped roughly
Tomatoes – 2 medium chopped roughly
Green chillies – 2 roughly chopped
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Garlic – 4 cloves
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece

Ingredients – Curry

Yogurt – ¼ cup
Kashmiri red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Salt as necessary
Butter – 2 tbsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
Sugar – ½ tsp
Fresh cream – 2 tbsp
Coriander leaves – a handful for garnishing


1.      Clean and rinse chicken well. Pat dry and place in a bowl. Add all ingredients under marinade to the chicken and mix well with your hands. Cover and marinate overnight in the fridge.

2.      Next morning, remove from fridge and let chicken come to room temperature. Meanwhile preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place the rack in the middle and a foil lined tray below to catch any drippings.

3.      Once the chicken is at room temperature, skewer the chicken pieces through grilling rods. Brush a little melted butter over the chicken pieces if desired and place the rods on the middle rack. Choose the grill/broil option on your oven and grill for 20-30 mins turning over at the halfway mark. Make sure not to overcook the chicken or it’ll turn chewy. Chicken need not char all over. Test by cutting into a small piece of chicken. Once done, remove the rods from oven and let cool.

4.      Prepare the curry while he chicken tikka cools. Heat 1 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp butter in a pan. When hot add the cinnamon stick and then the garlic, ginger, green chillies and chopped onions and sauté till the onions turn translucent. Then add the chopped tomatoes and sauté till they turn soft. Dump the sautéed mixture into a blender, let cool slightly and then blitz to a puree. Return this mixture back to the pan.

5.      Add the spice powders – red chilli, cumin powder and salt and mix well.

6.      Whisk yogurt to make it smooth. Add yogurt one tablespoon at a time stirring all the while until it is fully incorporated before adding the next spoon. Once all the yogurt has been added, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or till oil separates.

7.      Uncover, add in the garam masala and stir well until it is incorporated. Add in the sugar. Fold in the grilled chicken pieces and stir in the fresh cream. Switch off. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with roti or rice.



  1. Usha Rao says:

    Chicken tikka masala looks rich, creamy and delicious. Actually I like the tikka more than the masala. The skewer in the first picture is calling out my name. 🙂

Comments are closed.