Boneless chicken cooked in the Tandoor (the tikka) that can then be simmered in a mild spiced creamy tomato sauce (the masala). You can use this recipe to just make chicken tikka, or take the tikka and simmer in the sauce to make chicken tikka masala.  Fire up your Tandoor about 30-40 minutes in advance of being ready to cook the chicken.

Main ingredients part I- the tikka (enough for 3-4):

1.5 kg skinless chicken thigh fillets or breast

1 teaspoons paprika

4 tablespoons garam masala

8 cloves fresh garlic - roughly chopped

2 teaspoons chilli powder (less if sensitive to chilli)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

0.5 teaspoon tandoori colouring*

250 ml thick set natural yoghurt

2 x 5cm piece fresh ginger - peeled and roughly chopped

1 cup fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves copped                                              

salt to taste  (typically 1-2 teaspoons)

Main ingredients part II- the masala (enough for 5-6):

2 tablespoons garam masala

1 teaspoon chilli powder (less if sensitive to chilli)

0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons oil

300 ml cream

1 medium onion finely grated or pureed

4 green cardamon pods

4 cloves of garlic - crushed

2 tablespoons ground almonds

720 ml passata (tomato puree)                                                    

2 tablespoons soft brown sugar

1 batch of tikka from part I

2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves to serve

salt to taste  (typically 1-2 teaspoons)

Extra ingredients:

1-2 medium potatoes to act as heat shields during cooking the chicken

lemon wedges to serve if using the tikka by itself

* The tandoori colouring agent gives this dish its vibrant orange/red colour.  It can be obtained from most good asian spice sellers.  If you can not obtain tandoori colouring agent, you can substitute it with beetroot powder (this provides more of a red colour). The colouring agent adds little if no taste and leaving it out will not change the excellent flavour of the dish.

Part I - the tikka

Place all the part I ingredients (except the chicken) in a food processor and blend until a smooth paste is formed.  Season the paste with salt to taste (typically 1-2 teaspoons). Cut the chicken into chunks (4-8cm pieces) and mix thoroughly with the tikka paste.  Marinade the coated chicken in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or over night if you can - this will add more depth of flavour.

Slide chicken up the skewers leaving a gap at the top and bottom (see our “using Tandoor skewers” page).  Try leave a small gap between each piece of chicken.  Cut the potato into pieces and slide a piece up each skewer to just under the chicken to act as a heat shield when cooking in the Tandoor (see picture below).  Then place the skewers in the Tandoor and close the lid to be adjacent the skewers  Cooking time of the chicken will vary depending on the temperature of the Tandoor.  As a guide, it will take only about 15 minutes to cook in the Tandoor at about 240oC.  If the Tandoor gets too hot, simply take the lid off for a while.  Try cook the chicken long enough to get a few crunchy dark edges.

If you just want to eat the the tikka without making the masala, simply remove the cooked chicken from the Tandoor and serve with lemon wedges and your favourite accompaniments. Rice and freshly cooked garlic naan go great with chicken tikka. If you want to cook naan bread to accompany the chicken tikka, keep the Tandoor up to temperature so that it is ready to use just before your serve. You can easily cook 6-7 naan bread in a few minutes just before you sit down to eat!

Part II - the masala

Otherwise, to make the masala remove the cooked chicken from the Tandoor and set aside to cool.  If you want to cook naan bread to accompany the chicken tikka masala, again keep the Tandoor up to temperature so that it is ready to use just before your serve.  In the meantime, in a heavy based pot heat the oil over a low heat and fry the finely grated or pureed onion and cardamon pods for about 2-4 minutes or until it the onion starts to slightly brown.  Add the garlic and continue to fry for 1 minute, then add the passata and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  Add the cinnamon, garam masala, chilli powder and sugar and heat for about 1 minute.  Sir in the cream and ground almond and simmer for about 10-15 minutes to form the masala.  Then add the cooked chicken pieces.  If the chicken pieces are quite large, you may wish to cut them up a little before adding to the pot - but try and keep the pieces “chunky” as they present much better on the plate.  Simmer to warm the chicken through and serve. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and almond flakes.

Accompany with freshly cooked garlic naan and rice. You can easily cook 6-7 naan bread in a few minutes just before you sit down to eat!

Chicken tikka cooking in the Tandoor

Chicken tikka masala

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Chicken tikka /masala recipe