Quick Chicken Tikka Masala

I made a tikka masala once before from scratch and all I really remember was it taking a long time to make and it didn’t have quite as much flavour as I would have liked. I also hate using jar sauces so I had to have another go! For Christmas I was given some Indian serving dishes by my mum, along with a book called ‘Indian Made Simple’ which you can find an older edition of here.

I followed the structure of the sauce recipe from the book, with a couple of adaptations. I don’t do a lot of Indian cooking so I haven’t bought a tub of ghee as I imagine it would join the collection of rarely used jars at the back of my fridge… I used a little vegetable oil in this recipe and it worked just fine. Secondly, the recipe used cream which I substituted for the lighter creme fraiche option and this worked out great.

For the chicken I used a marinade that my mum taught me when I was at University – it has the best flavour and the tikka spice powder is better than anything I have made from a recipe (see picture below of this). I love chicken thighs as they keep their moisture when cooked, but I like to serve it off the bone for ease of eating.

Sadly we were so hungry that I totally forgot to take a picture of the final dish as it was served! You should get the idea though! It had a super rich flavour and a nice level of spice, and I love the tandoori chicken flavour. Will definitely make again and very achievable on a weekday if you prepare the marinade in advance. The sauce can also be made in advance and reheated if you want even less to do in the evening!

Ingredients – serves two (also include your choice of sides not listed below)

Marinated Tandoori Chicken

  • Half a tub of plain yogurt (about 250-300g)
  • One lime – juice and zest
  • 4 tablespoons of tandoori tikka powder (see pic below) – you can get this in an oriental supermarket or maybe in a larger supermarket
  • one tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3-4 bone in chicken thighs (or any other type of joint that you like)


  • One tablespoon of vegetable oil (or ghee if you have it)
  • One garlic clove, minced/grated
  • Half a red chilli, finely chopped (I don’t like my food too spicy but if you can take the heat use a whole chilli!)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground paprika (I used Spanish paprika which made the sauce extra smoky but probably less Indian in flavour!)
  • one tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 250-300ml creme fraiche (I use a half fat version to keep it even skinnier or you could use double cream for the luxury version!)

Method – 45 minutes (plus marinating)

Prepare the marinade in the morning or the night before. Simply stir the ingredients together in a shallow dish until well mixed. Score the chicken thighs deeply on the skin side, then nestle the chicken in the marinade spooning the mixture all over until totally covered. Cover with clingfilm and keep in the fridge until you want to cook. The longer you leave it the deeper the flavour goes into the chicken.

Scoop the chicken out of the marinade using tongs, but keep the leftover marinade for later (don’t scrape it off the chicken, it still wants to be covered in a nice layer for cooking). Lay the chicken (skin side up) on an oiled (greased) rack inside a roasting tin lined with foil. You can either cook the chicken in the oven or under the grill. I sometimes find grilling chicken on the bone overdoes the outside so I did this one in the oven, but it takes longer. If you choose to use the oven like me, get it in before you start the sauce at 180 degrees (fan).

To make the sauce fry the garlic and chilli in a frying pan with the oil for a minute. Add the spices and season well with salt and pepper, stirring for another 30 seconds.

This is the time to get your rice on the go too as it will be ready in 10-15 minutes. I like to use brown rice which takes that long to cook (and has more of a bite to it which I like) but if you are using white rice it may be less cooking time to vary accordingly.

Add the tinned tomatoes and the creme fraiche, stirring slowly. Put in less creme fraiche (or cream of course if you prefer it) to start with and add more to taste. Let the sauce simmer for ten minutes to thicken. If you are grilling your chicken, now it the time to get it in – keep an eye on it and keep turning it.

Once the chicken is cooked you can remove it from the oven. You could blast it under the grill to give it a little more colour if you cooked it in the oven – it gets a nice charred texture which gives a great flavour. It should look something like the picture below.


Once the sauce has thickened a little, you can add in the leftover marinade to give it even more flavour. This is optional as it cane quite strong but I love it! Let it simmer again for a few minutes, and it is good to go!


When everything is ready, you can serve the chicken as it is with the sauce and rice. I like to cut the chicken off the bone and into large chunks which I then layer over the top of the sauce and rice. Sorry again for the lack of picture of the finished article!

Sprinkle some chopped coriander for a stylish garnish and serve alongside some warm naan bread or my preferred side of poppadum and mango chutney. Yum!


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