chicken tikka masala

Alistair and I have a running joke about "skeevy" Indian. When we first started dating, we drove by an Indian restaurant in a questionable strip center, and I said something along the lines of "Who would ever eat at a skeevy place like that?" to which he responded "well that's the place that catered my wedding reception." An appropriate rejoinder might have been in an apologetic tone rather than my more witty response of "and how'd that work out for ya." Nailed it. Have I mentioned how much I love garlic? Especially this little chunk...



Don't these spices look moody? Cilantro, chives, coriander seeds, garlic, green chillies and habanero peppers. Did you know cilantro and coriander are essentially the same thing? Me neither.

I may be having too much fun styling this food. Putting these spices and ground almond together was a bit like building sand art back when I was a kid. (Is that dating myself - do kids still make sand art??)

Perceived skeeviness aside, I actual do love Indian food and especially Indian spices. I just prefer making it myself so there's no doubt as to the origins of the "chicken."



  • 1 tsp cloves

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 2 teaspoons paprika

  • 2 teaspoons garam masala

  • 3 lemons

  • 6 cloves crushed/finely chopped garlic

  • Knob of fresh ginger – about the size of your thumb

  • 6 tbsp of plain yogurt

  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt

  • 4 chicken breasts

  • 12-15 small green chili peppers


Put the cloves, cumin, paprika and garam masala into a small pan and toast quickly - 1 minute in the toaster oven. Add zest from 1 lemon and squeeze in all its juice. Add garlic, peeled and grated ginger, and top it with yogurt and sea salt. Cut chicken into chunks - roughly 2" each. Take the mixture and dip each chicken chunk into it and rub it up. Skewer up the chicken, lemon wedges and green chillis, leaving some space between each. Place on a tray and cover with plastic wrap. Marinate at least 2 hours (I did for 4) - this is also good for an overnight marinade if you plan better than I do in advance.

If it's not super cold out, then you can throw the kebabs on the grill. I used the oven broiler - it takes about 5 minutes on each side for it to get all nice and sizzle-y.


  • 2 onions

  • 4 cloves crushed/finely chopped garlic

  • 1–2 fresh red chillies or habanero peppers

  • 6 teaspoons fresh coriander

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tbsp ground coriander

  • 2 tsp turmeric

  • 6 tbsp ground almonds

  • 2 - 15 oz tins plum tomatoes

  • 1 tsp chicken stock

  • 100 ml water

For the sauce, saute onions, peppers and garlic cloves in a dutch oven with olive oil. Put on medium high heat and cook for around 20 minutes, or until golden, stirring regularly. Add ground coriander, turmeric, paprika and garam masala. Cook for 2 minutes, then add ground almonds (I just put this in a food processer). Pour in pureed plum tomatoes (I actually like to buy whole tomatoes in a can and then puree them in a blender to get a fresher taste when not using fresh tomatoes) and one cube of chicken stock. Simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in water. Simmer for 40-60 minutes (until thick), stirring occasionally throughout. At the end, take the grilled chicken bits off of the skewers and place them in the tikka masala sauce, squeezing out the lemons as much as possible (the chillies from the skewers can be discarded). After simmering another two minutes with the chicken, remove from the stove and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Serve with home-made naan (click here), jasmine or basmati rice, poppadoms and your favorite relish.

Serves: 6

Time: 2 hours (not including marinating time)