glorious chicken tikka masala, delhi style

glorious chicken tikka masala, delhi style
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We’ve lovingly taken the British classic Chicken Tikka back to it’s Delhi Butter Chicken origins, so you can recreate this sumptuous dish easily at home.

India’s capitol city Delhi is the home of Punjabi’s, bling and opulence. It’s hardly surprising that the Mother Dish of all Chicken Tikka Masalas – the Butter Chicken was invented here in this fast living and lavish life setting.

Butter Chicken is among the most popular of Indian dishes around the world. Locally known as the Murg Makhani in Delhi and Punjab, Butter Chicken is usually served along with Kaali Daal (black lentils), Naans and a green salad. It can be made as hot or mild as you like, however its usually a mild to medium sauce and suits most palates.

The Chicken Tikka Masala is a British adaptation of the Murg Makhani, and arguably the most popular dish in the UK. Inspired by our family recipe, we are taking the Chicken Tikka Masala back to its roots.

Our “Delhi Chicken Tikka Masala” recipe has three parts to it:

1. Preparing chicken tikka

2. Cooking the Sauce

3. Bringing the dish together

Step 1: Preparing chicken tikka

This is the longest and hardest part of the recipe. However, you can easily buy Chicken Tikka pieces from the supermarket or your local curry house and skip this step altogether. But if are like me, with an often annoying desire of cooking meat exactly the way you like it, then read on…

Traditionally, we use chicken on the bone for the Murg Makhani. I do believe that adds to the flavour, and if you don’t mind the bones, that is the best way to do it. However with Chicken Tikka Masala, by definition, we use boneless chicken pieces, roughly 4cm cubes (~60gm each). If you do wish to cook the more traditional Murg Makhani on the bone, you can still use this recipe, cooking times for the chicken may vary (and add some butter in the end!). But we digress…

Usually, people tend to use chicken breast pieces to make chicken tikka, but I would reccomend you use chicken thigh (skinless) pieces – there is nothing worse than a dry chicken breast in a curry!

This recipe serves 2 (or 1, if you eat like I do!).  Just double everything if you want to cook for 4.

Here is what you will need to make proper chicken tikka:


  • 400g chicken thigh pieces (skinless & boneless)
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1cm grated ginger
  • A pinch of salt (or as per your taste)
  • 1/4 tsp paprika powder
  • 1/4 tsp of red chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 40ml natural yoghurt
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 1cm stick of cinnamon
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • seeds from 2 pods of cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Place the chicken in a non-metalic bowl with the ginger, garlic, salt, paprika powder, chilli powder and lemon juice. Mix well, cover and allow to marinate for 1 hour.
  2. Make your “garam masala”. If you want the easy way out, use 1/2 tsp of garam masala instead of this step. But if you ask me, making your own garam masala makes a big difference in the end product. This is not difficult. Heat a flat pan on low to medium heat and gently roast the whole spices – cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, and bay leaves, stirring frequently. Till the spices darken slightly, about 2 minutes. Grind these spices along with the cardamom seeds into a coarse powder (I use a coffee grinder, it makes my life so much easier!)
  3. Mix the yogurt, garam masala, coriander powder, turmeric and cumin together and add this mix to the chicken. Make sure that each piece is well coated with the mixture. Cover again and let it marinate for at least 4 hours over even overnight in the refridgerator.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Fan 160ºC/gas mark 4. Place these marinated chicken pieces on a grill. Do not pour the excess marinate on the chicken, the marinate has done its job. Bake the chiken pieces for about 10 mins. Brush the chicken pieces with a little oil and turn them over. Bake for another 10 minutes until just cooked through.

You chicken tikka is ready. The rest of the recipe is quite straight forward.

Step 2: Preparing the sauce

This is relatively simple.

  1. Open your cupboard
  2. Take out 1 packet of Holy Cow!’s delicious Delhi Tikka Masala Curry Sauce
  3. Pour it into a pan on medium heat, and bring it to simmer.

You really didn’t think we would share our family recipe here, did you? Well, maybe some other time…


Step 3: Finishing the dish

Here are a few tricks to give your tikka masala more depth of flavour.


  • Chicken tikka pieces (that you prepared as above, or were clever enouh to buy ready-made!)
  • 1 Delhi Tikka Masala Curry Sauce
  • 50ml chicken stock, or 1 cube of oxo chicken
  • 30g to 60g of cashew nut powder, as per your taste
  • 1 tbsp of chopped fresh coriander leaves.
  • 1 tbsp butter (unsalted)

Prep time – 5 minutes.


  • Pour the sauce in a pan on medium heat, add the cashew powder and the stock. Simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Judge the thickness of the sauce, you can add a little water to bring it to a consistency you that prefer. (When I use the liquid chicken stock, I do not need to add any water)
  • Add the chicken pieces and butter, give it a stir till the butter has melted. (If you are using cold chicken tikka pieces, then I would add the chicken in the beginning with the sauce and let it simmer till the chicken is warm)
  • Have a spoonful, and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
  • Pour it in your serving dish, garnish with coriander leaves.

I would serve this with Naan. And Kaali daal, if possible. Maybe a cold lager.

If you try this recipe, do leave us a comment. What worked well, what didn’t. I would be more than happy to send you further suggestions.


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