Skip to content
Back Back to Insurance menu Go to Insurance
Back Back to Saga Money Go to Saga Money
Back Back to Saga Magazine menu Go to Magazine
Search Magazine

The Hairy Bikers' chicken tikka masala

The Hairy Bikers / 06 November 2018

The Hairy Bikers share their recipe for classic chicken tikka masala - a recipe that uses Indian spices but satisfies the British love of gravy and sauces.

The Hairy Bikers' chicken tikka masala
The Hairy Bikers' chicken tikka masala

Marinating time

A few hours or overnight

Cooking time

40 minutes




For the spice mix

  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder*
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
  • Pinch of cloves

For the chicken tikka

  • 1 tbsp spice mix or 1 tbsp tandoori masala powder
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 20g fresh root ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, skinned and diced fresh coriander, to serve

For the curry sauce

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 25g fresh root ginger, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp spice mix
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1/2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt

*Or two tablespoons of sweet paprika mixed with one teaspoon of medium chilli powder


Once voted Britain’s favourite curry, this dish might actually have been invented in Britain by mixing proper Indian chicken tikka with a curry sauce to satisfy our love of gravy. As well as having fab flavour, this is a great prepare-ahead dish – the chicken can be marinated ahead of time and the sauce can be made and stored, as it is only after the chicken has been grilled that it is added to the sauce. If you don’t have any Kashmiri chilli powder, you could use two tablespoons of sweet paprika mixed with a teaspoon of medium chilli powder.

If making the spice mix from scratch, simply mix the ground spices together until they are completely combined into a rich ochre mixture.

Next marinade the chicken. Combine the spice mix with the garlic, ginger and yoghurt.

Put the chicken in a bowl and season it well with salt. Add the lemon juice and toss the chicken pieces in it so it is well coated, then pour over the spice and yoghurt mix. Mix thoroughly, then cover and put it in the fridge for several hours, or preferably overnight.

Next make the sauce. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions, garlic and ginger.

Cover and cook over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly until the onion has softened. Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes over a slightly higher heat to allow the onions to take on some colour.

Add the spices and stir for another minute or so, then add the tomato purée and sugar.

Season with salt and pepper, then stir for a few minutes. Add 400ml of water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently for a further 5 minutes.

Blitz the contents of the saucepan with either a stick blender or by transferring the mixture to a jug blender. The sauce should be completely smooth. Stir in the yoghurt.

If using the sauce straight away, keep it warm while you cook the chicken. Otherwise it can be stored in the fridge for several days until you need it.

To cook the chicken, heat a griddle until it is too hot to hold your hand over. Remove the chicken from the marinade, wiping off any excess, then place it on the griddle.

Cook for several minutes or until char lines appear and the pieces lift off the griddle easily. Cook them on the other side until just cooked through. You may have to do this in a couple of batches. Alternatively, heat up your grill to its highest setting and grill the chicken for 4–5 minutes on each side.

Transfer the chicken to the sauce and simmer until everything is piping hot. Serve sprinkled with coriander and with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

For more delicious curry recipes from the Hairy Bikers try their recipes for chicken jalfrezi or lamb and spinach curry. We also have lots more curry dishes and sides in our Indian recipes section.

British Classics The Hairy Bikers

The Hairy Bikers’ British Classics by Si King and Dave Myers is published by Seven Dials in hardback at £22


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.