Smoky and creamy with just enough heat, a traditional chicken tikka masala curry is a takeaway classic. Make it at home with our delicious recipe - this makes a large curry to feed a crowd, so invite everyone round for a weekend feast.
- In a small food processor, blitz the 100g ginger and 5 garlic cloves to a purée. Mix with the yogurt, paprika, 1 tbsp of the garam masala, lemon juice and salt in a non-metallic bowl. Add the chicken and stir thoroughly until evenly coated. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hrs, or overnight.
- To make the sauce, toast the cardomom pods, peppercorns, cinammon stick, remaining tbsp of garam masala and ground fenugreek in a dry frying pan over a low heat, stirring, for 3-4 mins until they become aromatic and slightly darker in colour. Remove and reserve the cinnamon stick, then grind the rest into a fine powder with a pestle and mortar.
- Heat the oil in a large, wide saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 mins. Uncover and cook for 5 mins, or until it starts to caramelise. Add the grated ginger, garlic and half the red chilli and cook, stirring, for 2 mins. Add the ground spices, cinnamon stick and a splash of water. Stir for 1-2 mins until very aromatic, then add the tomatoes, rinsing each can with 200ml water to get all the juice. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 35-40 mins, stirring occasionally, until reduced.
- Preheat the grill to high. Thread the chicken onto 8-10 metal or soaked wooden skewers and put on a large baking tray lined with foil. Grill for 10-15 mins, turning halfway, or until nicely charred and cooked through.
- Remove the cinnamon stick; purée the sauce with a stick blender until smooth. Transfer the chicken from the skewers to the sauce and heat gently for 5 mins. Stir in the cream and sugar; season. To serve, top with the coriander, nigella seeds (if using) and the remaining chilli.
Balance the spice: For more spice, swap the red chilli for 2- green finger chillies (remove before puréeing). Don't skimp on the smoked paprika as it gives the chicken some of the smoky flavour of a tandoor.
Top up the texture: Toasted nigella seeds add a lovely crunch, but you can leave them out or use crispy fried onions instead.
Make it veggie: For a vegetarian alternative, use a mix of cubed paneer and chunks of red pepper. Marinate and cook as you would the chicken.
Create a creamy sauce: A splash of cream balances the flavours and makes the sauce more luxurious. For a lower-fat option, use 6 tbsp yogurt instead. Make sure to blend the sauce - it creates the characteristic smooth texture.
Get ahead: The flavour of curry improves overnight so, if you have time, marinate the chicken and make the sauce the day before. Reheat the sauce gently with a splash of water before adding the grilled chicken. Use ready-made garlic and ginger pastes and ready-diced chicken to make it even quicker.
For top tips on protecting you and your family when preparing raw meat and poultry, visit Food Safety in the Home and view the full Food safety at home video.
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