How to cook: a ridiculously easy chicken tikka masala

Originally published in October 2013, this recipe has been edited and re-released for the Currys Student Cookbook! 

This recipe has been a long time coming! Us Brits love our curry, and tikka masala is probably still the number one choice for the vast majority. The trouble is, we either buy those pre-made reheat in the microwave or oven ones, or we order in from the local takeaway; and at well over 800 calories with a fair whack of that coming from saturated fats it's pretty scary!

I don't know why making a curry from scratch is so daunting. We are spoilt for choice in supermarkets now, with spice blends already there just ready and waiting to be used. It really is so simple! This recipe can be adapted for a veggie version, or you could use beef or lamb if you wanted.

So let us get our curry on:

What you'll need: 
  • chicken breasts - I used 5, but it was a batch cook operation!
  • tikka masala curry paste - I recommend Pataks.
  • tikka masala spice blend 
  • curry powder
  • olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 vegetable OxO Cubes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • gloves for handling raw meat

Prep/marinade: First of all we need to marinate the chicken. Cover the chicken with 3 teaspoons (tsp) of tikka spice mix, 2 tsp curry powder and some coarse salt. You can do this on frozen chicken in the morning, then leave in the fridge while you go to work or uni. After at least 2 hours, or once the chicken has defrosted, transfer the chicken into a large pyrex bowl and add 2 tablespoons (tbsp) curry paste, season well with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with cling film, put in the fridge for at least an hour.

ThatRedheadSaid : how to cook chicken tikka masala

Let's cook: Get a heavy based pan, and turn the heat on high. Put on your gloves and grab a sharp knife. Cut the chicken into reasonable sized chunks. Add some olive oil into the pan, and once it's hot add the chicken and oxo cubes. Stir well to make sure all the chicken gets coated in the oil. Use the least amount you can of the oil, we're aiming for healthy here! Put some warm water into the pyrex bowl and mix around with your gloved hands to the grab the marinade that is stuck to the sides. Add to the chicken and turn the heat right down. Stir, cover and leave to simmer. Remove your gloves. If your chicken or sauce is catching on the bottom of the pan, or it's just simmering too quickly, add some more water.

ThatRedheadSaid : how to cook chicken tikka masala
apologies for the picture! the light on my extractor is broken! :(

Now it's time to chop the onion. You don't have to be ridiculously talented with a knife, just get your slices as thin as possible without putting your fingers in danger! Once you're done, and you've dried your eyes, grab another frying pan and heat some olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and a generous sprinkling of salt. This will bring out the liquid and help them soften. We're not looking to fry our onions here, just soften them with as little colouring as possible. Keep the heat on low-med to stop them from running away with you. I also like to keep my sautee pan lid ontop of the onions to help them on their way.

Check on your curry. Add a tbsp paste and spice mix, plus a tsp of curry powder and season with salt and pepper. Give it a good mix, taste, re-cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Check on your onions. Turn them over frequently.

Add half a can of coconut milk to the curry. Mix thoroughly and taste. Adjust the heat of your hob to a low-medium to allow the curry to continue to simmer gently. Your onions should now just be starting to catch on the pan, so add them to the curry and mix well. Add the rest of the coconut milk, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Turn the heat down, stir the curry carefully. Taste and adjust the flavour as you wish. Here I added a teaspoon of dried thyme. If you want a hotter curry, go a tsp at a time with the curry powder. What I love about this curry is the depth of flavour rather than spice heat that blows your head off and ruins the experience.

After a final 5 minutes of cooking your curry is ready! I recommend serving with brown rice. Annoyingly I didn't have any in the cupboard so the picture shows white basmati rice. Buy all means go for some naan bread and poppadoms too - but remember to buy the uncooked ones, they're vastly less fatty!

ThatRedheadSaid : how to cook chicken tikka masala

ThatRedheadSaid : how to cook chicken tikka masala

There we have it! One super easy and super yummy chicken tikka masala! The boyfriend said this was my best one yet - which is quite a bold statement to be honest. Give it a whirl, adapt as you like and let me know how you got on!!! :) 

Happy cooking!


  1. This looks SO yummy! :) I don't eat Chicken, but I reckon it would be just as nice with Quorn fillets instead. I'm going to give it a go... thanks for sharing!

    Lyndsay | Fizzy Peaches

    1. My first curry recipe was a vegetable one, so I'll break that one out for my veggie friends :) Quorn was mentioned on twitter and I wasn't sure if the protein could tolerate the cooking, so please let me know if it does work!! Xx


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