I think it’s funny that restaurant style chicken tikka masala isn’t an Indian dish at all. It was invented in the UK some time in the early 1970s. The best story around this dish is that it was invented in Glasgow when a bus driver complained that his curry wasn’t saucy enough. The chef, who was eating tomato soup at the time, tossed some of his soup back in the curry and the rest is history.

It’s a mild curry. One suitable for the most timid palates. You can make restaurant style chicken tikka masala for your kids.

Layering flavours is key. The chicken is first cooked in tandoori spice and then finished in a tomato cream sauce. Hints of coconut and almond and a bit of sugar round it out.

Make Indian restaurant chicken tikka masala at home.

Chicken tikka masala is pretty straightforward and follows the Indian restaurant technique exactly. Do yourself a favour and read that post first. There are pictures to help you understand.

Do your prep before you get started. Make your curry base and have some heated and ready to go. Pre-cook your meat. Measure out your ingredients. Put on some old clothes – the curry sputters.

Most of the curries I post can be made with just about anything – lamb, chicken, beef or even vegetables. Restaurant style chicken tikka masala – well, it’s a chicken dish so…



Restaurant style chicken tikka masala is probably the most famous curry dish in the world.

4 from 3 votes
Restaurant style chicken tikka masala is probably the most famous curry dish in the world.
restaurant style chicken tikka masala
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
55 mins
Restaurant style chicken tikka masala is a mild, tangy curry with a hint of coconut and almond.
Course: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 2
The chicken
  • 4-5 boneless chicken thighs or two chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp tandoori masala powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3-4 Tbsp vegetable oil
Chicken tikka masala
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp garlic ginger paste - recipe link below
  • 2 tsp Indian restaurant spice mix - recipe link below
  • 1 Tbsp tandoori masala powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste diluted in 2 Tbsp water
  • 15 oz curry base - recipe link below
  • 3 Tbsp coconut powder
  • 1 Tbsp almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream 35%
  • juice of 1/6 lemon
The chicken
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400F.
  2. Combine 2 Tbsp tandoori masala powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 3-4 Tbsp vegetable oil in a bowl that won't stain. Cut the chicken into big bite size pieces and combine with marinade. Let stand briefly.- or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Transfer chicken to a sturdy cookie sheet and roast until it reaches an internal temperature of about 165F, about 15 minutes.
Chicken Tikka Masala
  1. Combine curry powder, tandoori masala and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Combine the almond and coconut powder with enough water to get to the texture of coconut milk or heavy cream.
  3. Dilute the tomato paste with enough water to get to the consistency of passata.
  4. Heat your frying pan (don't use non-stick) briefly over medium heat. Add 3 Tbsp vegetable oil. Use all the oil specified. It's important.
  5. When the oil starts to shimmer add the garlic ginger paste. Cook it, stirring constantly, until it stops sputtering.
  6. Turn down the heat and add the spice mix. This is the critical step. Stir it constantly for 30 seconds. If it starts to darken lift the pan off the heat. You want the spice mix to cook in the oil but not burn.
  7. Turn the heat up to medium high. Add the diluted tomato paste and stir until bubbles form (the oil will likely separate). This takes around 30 seconds to one minute depending on the heat.
  8. Add 3 oz of curry base. Stir until bubbles form (little craters really), around 30 seconds. Watch the edges of the pan. The curry can stick here.
  9. Now add 6 oz of curry base and stir briefly. Let it cook until the bubbles form again. This takes 1-2 minutes.
  10. Add the rest of the curry base and let cook until the bubbles form. Turn the heat down to low and add the pre-cooked chicken, coconut almond mixture and sugar.
  11. Let the curry simmer for about 5 minutes. If it gets too thick add a bit more curry base. Don't add water.
  12. Add the cream and stir. Mix in the lemon juice, garnish with a bit of chopped fresh coriander if you like and serve.
Recipe Notes

Tandoori masala powder is available in any Indian grocery.

The recipe for curry base is here.


The recipe for indian restaurant spice mix is here


The recipe for garlic ginger paste is here.


If you haven't read about Indian restaurant technique yet, do that before you start cooking.

Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go.

If you are making multiple curries, have your curry base warming in a pot on the stove. If you are just making one, microwave it to warm it up right before you start cooking.


6 thoughts on “restaurant style chicken tikka masala

  1. I don’t even want to admit right now that I thought I’d made this before. After reading your recipe, and already knowing that you are THE expert in curry/meat EVERYTHING, I know this is the recipe I’ve got to do to get it right. Recipe by recipe, you are educating the midwest/me haha. Thank you!

    • I’d take a lesson in Kansas City BBQ as a trade any day:-) I’m so glad you are learning from my posts. That’s why I do it!

  2. Hi, Thanks for the post, one quick question, are you making the british version of indian curries? I am not sure if we use onion based curry in chicken tikka masala. Based on my knowledge, tikka masala only has tomato based curry. Please advise. Thanks

    • There is a mix of restaurant style and home style Indian curries on this site. This one (and all the recipes that use curry base) is restaurant style.

  3. Wow! This is amazing! I’ve been on a “quest” to duplicate my favorite restaurant chicken tikka masala (Mela in SF), and this is really close! Mela’s has a bit more buttery mouth-feel and a deeper tomato “layer.” But this is the closest I’ve ever come to ANY restaurant tikka masala! AWESOME. AND…thanks for the HOW to cook it. That seems half the challenge!

    I do have a few questions: a.) I couldn’t find “coconut powder” but I did find “coconut flour”. Is that the same thing? I had a difficult time getting the almond/coconut to become a “creamy” consistency….more like oatmeal. b.) do you ever use ghee in this? I was wanting more buttery/fatty taste and c.) is there a way to up the tomato flavor layer?

    These are all novice questions from someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing!!! I just found your website and am loving it! There’s so much more for me to explore here!

    • So glad you found me and delighted you like the recipe. Coconut flour is not the same as coconut powder. Using canned coconut milk would be much closer and take care of your problems with consistency. I use Maggi brand coconut powder. Look for that. You should be able to find it in San Francisco. Down in the Bay for sure…

      You are absolutely right – if you want more buttery use ghee instead of vegetable oil. It will be richer and perhaps the flavours will be a bit muted but the buttery taste will be there for sure. Maybe start half ghee, half oil and go from there.

      If you want more tomato flavour in your chicken tikka masala maybe up the amount of tomato paste? You might be able to get some tips from Mela as well if you ask nicely. I find restaurants usually willing to share if you show a sincere interest…

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