naga chicken tikka curry – Indian hotel style

If you want the biggest flavours for dinner tonight make naga chicken tikka curry – Indian hotel style.

This is not one for the korma or butter chicken crowd. It’s for those chasing maximum taste. Those that aren’t scared of a little fire. It doesn’t have to be super spicy. But nobody will ever call it bland either.

Try to imagine. Chicken tikka. Little tandoori chicken bites. The haunting aroma of naga chili. Wrapped up in a crazy tasty sauce spiked with a bit of green chili. Flavour on flavour on flavour.

Naga chicken tikka curry is definitely spicier than most on glebekitchen. Not unbearably hot as written. But it does pack a punch. You’ve been warned.

Naga chicken tikka curry in an Indian styled bowl from above.

Naga chili pickle is the secret ingredient

Naga chili – or naga morich – is one seriously hot chili. Sits at the way high end of the Scoville scale. A superhot. It deserves respect. A little goes a long way.

You may be wondering why anyone sane would cook with them. That’s a reasonable question. I’m glad you asked. Even if you didn’t ask. Pretend. Humour me.

Indians make a pickle with them. Still crazy hot. But with a taste unto itself. And an incredible aroma. If you’ve ever tasted naga pickle you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a bit of magic. For chili heads anyway.

Once you get your jar of naga pickle home resist the urge to taste it. First time I got some I did. I had to.

I’m nuts that way. Naga pickle is really hot. But really delicious. Do as I say. Not as I do. Seriously. Not a good idea. Very hot.

More is better

This recipe is a bit of a catch 22. Which isn’t fair. I know. The recommended amount is quite spicy. But it has that naga flavour.

The high end gets into chili head territory. And you can go higher. If you can take it. The heat builds but that wonderful naga flavour does too.

I start at 1/2 tsp. Just starting to get enough naga flavour. And the heat is well inside my comfort zone. Spicy. For sure. But not insane.

I build from there. A little bit at a time. I push it to the high end of comfortable on any given day. Because I love naga.

Everyone’s different. So start low and creep up on it. And decide whether you want the taste of green chili.

Leave it out and you can add more naga pickle. That one is a tough call. For me anyway. I love green chili.

Close-up of a spoonful of naga chicken tikka curry from the front.

There’s an easy way to make chicken tikka

This is a cheat. An easy way to make chicken tikka. Not up to the flavour of no-holds-barred chicken tikka I usually make.

But much simpler. And it works really well in a curry.

It’s a simple marinade. Just some spices, oil and a bit of naga chili pickle. Yes. More naga pickle. Next time you make chicken tikka try that. It’s a nice touch.

Roast the chicken on a metal baking pan in a 400F oven. That’s pretty much it. No grill. No skewers. And no fuss. Just fast, easy chicken tikka.

I do miss the charcoal smoke though. Nothing beats that grilled flavour.

There’s one little trick that adds even more flavour. When the chicken comes out of the oven put it in a bowl. Drizzle a little of the oil and rendered chicken juices from the pan over it.

Grab a little of that chicken infused spiced oil flavour for your naga chicken tikka curry. Never waste those bits of flavour. The little things matter. They add up.

I’m not going to put this in the recipe. It’s a little bonus for those of you reading this. Our little secret.

And the portion of chicken is generous. Probably 3 thighs is actually about right. But you are going to snack. I know.

I can never help myself either. Not sure anyone can. So there’s a chicken tikka snack buffer built into the recipe. If you can refrain the worst thing that happens is you have lots of chicken in your curry.

Indian restaurant hotel style is a little different

This naga chicken tikka curry is a little different from the regular Indian restaurant style curries on glebekitchen.

Different in a very good way. A whole new way.

The curry gravy is the thing here. It’s not the same as the curry base I usually use. It’s tailor made for big bold curries. Like this naga chicken tikka curry.

You still make it ahead of time. And you can still freeze it in restaurant sized portions. Ready to use on demand.

But hotel gravy is all about deeply browned onions. To deliver that deep, satisfying flavour. Loads of Maillard reaction. Umami galore. That’s why it’s special.

And it’s not messy. Major added bonus. You don’t fry the hotel style curry gravy hard. The onions are pre-browned. No more droplets of clothing destroying curry flying everywhere.

Naga chicken tikka curry, tarka dal, Ceylon chicken curry and chaat masala potatoes with green chilies.

Naga chicken tikka curry is for the chili head in you

I keep things medium spicy on glebekitchen. Almost all the time. I like a nice balance of heat and flavour. It’s always flavour first here.

This one is trickier. To get the flavour you need to add the heat. There’s no way around it.

It doesn’t have to be incendiary. Unless you want it to be. Two teaspoons of naga will light almost anyone’s fire. Seriously hot. If you are a true chilihead, imagine the tastiest chicken tikka masala you’ve never had.

That’s the dilemma here. More heat. More flavour. It’s a tough call. Sorry to do this to you.

But it’s also a matter of degree. Doesn’t really matter how much you add. As long as you add some. After that, it’s just gets more delicious. If you can take the heat, that is.

Naga chicken tikka curry in a carbon steel Indian styled bowl from the front.
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4.96 from 23 votes

Naga chicken tikka curry

Naga chicken tikka curry is a spicy way to get your chicken tikka fix. This one is all about big, bold flavours.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword chicken tikka curry, naga chicken tikka
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 682kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen


Quick naga chicken tikka

  • 4 chicken thighs – boneless, skinless. Cut each thigh into 3 even pieces.
  • 2 tbsp tandoori masala – available from any Indian grocer. Look for a brand that isn't all salt.
  • 1 tsp kasoor methi – dried fenugreek leaves, crumbled between your fingers
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp naga pickle – available from most Indian grocers
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

The spice mix

  • 2 tsp Indian restaurant spice mix – recipe link below
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 tsp kasoor methi – dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tsp tandoori masala – again, look for one that isn't mostly salt
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

naga chicken tikka curry

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil – any neutral oil is fine
  • 1 2 inch cassia bark
  • 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste – recipe link below
  • 1 green chili – finger hot – jwala chili – cut in half and then into 1 inch pieces (for a total of 6-8 pieces). This is optional and for the chiliheads.
  • 1 cup Indian hotel curry gravy – recipe link below. Dilute it with 3 tbsp chicken stock (better) or water.
  • the naga chicken tikka
  • 1/2 tsp naga chili pickle – (see note). You can add more if you can take the heat. More naga pickle. More flavour.
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 tsp sugar – jaggery or brown sugar


Do your prep

  • Make your spice mix. Cut up your green chilies if using. Make your naga chicken tikka.
  • DIlute your curry gravy with 3 tablespoons of water. You need to dilute it because the chicken is going in pre-cooked.

Make your quick naga chicken tikka

  • Combine the tandoori masala, kasoor methi, salt, naga pickle and oil in a bowl large enough to hold all the chicken.
  • Add the chicken and combine with the marinade. Use tongs. This stuff will stain your fingers.
  • Marinate for about an hour. Pre-heat your oven to 400F while this is going on. Place a sturdy baking sheet in the oven to pre-heat.
  • Transfer the chicken (again, use tongs) to that pre-heated, sturdy baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook for about 6 minutes. Flip all the pieces and return to the oven. Cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F. This should take another 4-8 minutes or so. Really depends on how big your chicken thigh pieces are. Set aside.

Make the naga chicken tikka curry

  • Heat the oil in a medium sized frying pan until the oil just starts to shimmer.
  • Add the cassia bark. You should see little bubbles forming around it. Cook for about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the garlic ginger paste and green chilies (optional). Cook until the garlic ginger paste stops sputtering.
  • Turn your heat down to medium low and add your spice mix. This is why you added 3 tablespoons of oil. You want to fry your spices in the oil. If you skimp on the oil you risk your spices sticking or burning. If your spices burn here you are starting over. Cook the spices for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the Indian hotel curry gravy. Stir it really well to get the oil to combine with the curry gravy. You want everything mixed together at this point. Bring to a simmer.
  • Cover loosely and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 tsp of naga chili pickle and the coconut milk and stir. Taste. Decide if you want more naga pickle flavour and heat. Creep up on it. I love the taste of naga pickle but it does get pretty spicy fast so be careful.
  • Decide at this point whether you want the sugar or not. It's optional and it depends whether you like that little hint of sweetness in the background.
  • Add the naga chicken tikka. Continue to cook for about 1 minute to warm the chicken through.
  • Serve to your chili head friends.


Naga pickle is hot stuff. If you are not a hard core chili head tread carefully. Start with 1/4 tsp. It will give you a good hint of naga. 1/2 tsp and you are getting pretty much the full naga experience but your curry will be pretty hot by most anyone’s standard. Still almost in balance but on the hot end of the scale. A full teaspoon and you are in serious chili head territory. More than that and you’d best have an asbestos lining on your tongue.
If you overshoot on the naga pickle, try adding more coconut milk. It won’t be the same but it will be a wonderfully creamy variation.
If you want to minimize the fire and maximize the naga flavour, leave out the green chilies. Naga is more important than the green chili flavour here. That might be the first time I’ve ever said leave out the green chilies. 
Make your Indian hotel curry gravy ahead of time. It takes time to make so think about doing it the day before.
I use this Indian restaurant spice mix in most of my Indian restaurant style curries.
For maximum flavour you should consider making your garlic ginger paste from scratch.
You may notice there’s no tomato paste or passata in this recipe. The tomato comes from the hotel curry gravy. It’s there already.


Serving: 2servings | Calories: 682kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 194mg | Sodium: 1944mg | Potassium: 1000mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 574IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 6mg

48 thoughts on “naga chicken tikka curry – Indian hotel style”

  1. Hi Romain,
    I was really excited to try this recipe I’ve waited for the naga pickle which arrived since I wanted it for the vindaloo wings. This was delicious though 3 other people tried it and loved it, I can’t understand why people are obsessed with using/expecting breast in curries/tikka, the thighs are amazing in both, so round 2 of just the tikka in your dhansak recipe this weekend I think that will be another winner!! Loving all your recipes pal plus I echo many others a book would be amazing, if you have them all in blog form the right person could create that for you, thank you this blog has taken over my Indian cooking techniques.
    All the best

    • If you want a little kick try a little naga pickle in your tandoori marinade.

      I have been on a mission to convince people that dark meat is the best for Indian cooking. Delighted you agree! And I’m not saying there won’t ever be a book – just not now:-)

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve been cooking Indian for a while, I’m now at the stage of eating curry every day for lunch and dinner to the point I have to cook my family seperate meals. Glebe kitchen has levelled my cooking up to the point of skipping to the table when it’s ready. I’ve done all the prep a fridge full of hotel gravy, makhani gravy, marinated chicken, curry house powder, arsenal of herbs and spices etc etc ready to go and I’m whipping up curries of all varieties in 15 minutes max. Proper chuffed! Your recipes, methods and style has massively inspired me. You should write a book! Forever grateful for you taking the time to share your knowledge, big up!

  3. 5 stars
    The taste of this dish is beyond any curry I’ve cooked before. I cooked it for the third time last night and everyone loved it so much. It’s so so tasty every time!

    Theres a fair bit of prep getting the base ready and then all the ingredients for cooking it but the end result more than makes up for the time spent.

    Started using your garlic ginger recipe too and it was definitely worth the switch from store bought stuff.

    Thanks again!

  4. 5 stars
    Hi Romain, I never thought I would say this, but this one is comparable in brilliance to your Vindaloo! Not the same, of course. Very different, in fact. But yet equally good. I feel your site is like the Pink Floyd of cooking: wonderful hit after hit!!

  5. 5 stars
    I tried this with 3x the naga (I’m Korean) and it ended up amazingly deliciously spicy which was actually genuinely incredible (I’ve tried >5 recipes of this dish from other indian food blogs that didn’t even come close), and today I accidentally added 3x that amount (teaspoons vs tablespoons while drunk) and it was just even more deliciously spicy, I don’t understand how…

    Well done!

  6. Romain, you’re a legend! I’ve been cooking Indian food now since 2008 and gradually it gets better and better, but I reached an obvious homecooking limit where my curries were delicious but still nothing compared to the restaurants I frequented here in Luxembourg.
    Thanks to you however I’ve found my passion for cooking again and I’ve been at it nonstop for weeks, making everything with your different base gravy’s.
    Last night I made your Naga Chicken Tikka. It was the first time in a while that the missus and I didn’t watch TV, but talked all the way through dinner about how amazing it was, which is a good thing as we have a 3 month old baby and we’d like to have family dinners instead of staring at a screen from here on out.
    Tonight I’m doing your hotel style chicken tikka masala. Just chopped some wood for the grill (even though it’s raining, I don’t care), prepared the makhani gravy and defrosted one of the hotel gravies. Chicken is marinating, my mum has joined us and I can’t see how the night can get any better. Oh yes, a couple beers!
    Love you and so does my wife!

    • “Found my passion for cooking again”. I can’t think of anything that makes me happier. This is exactly why I do what I do with glebekitchen. Absolutely delighted to hear that.

      Tell your wife and mum I say hi and that I hope they enjoyed dinner!

  7. 5 stars
    Made this for the family last week and it was amazing! No left overs at all!! My daughter is now clamoring to learn how to make it. What else do you use the Gravy for? I now have quite a bit in my freezer and would love to know a few other options?

    • Glad you enjoyed it! There is a whole series of hotel style curries on glebekitchen and more coming all the time. Anything labelled hotel style uses the hotel gravy. Look under the recipes/indian tab.

  8. 5 stars
    By far the best homemade curry I’ve ever made.

    Girlfriend’s dad introduced me to the chicken tikka naga at his local curry shop and now I can’t get enough.

    Great recipes all round!

  9. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! Honestly the tastiest curry I have ever made! Mr was very happy. We had leftovers the next day the flavour was lovely and the spice had mellowed a little but still totally delicious!

  10. Going to marinate my Chicken Thighs at the weekend ready for your next Curry of Naga Chicken Tikka on Monday. I normally Vac Pak whatever I am doing for a few days but previously always with Buttermilk, however very keen to try your method without. Do you ever marinate for longer than 24hrs?

    • Marination is a surface phenomena. Spices etc don’t make it much past the first mm or two. The exception is salt. Salt (brining) travels about an inch a day. So for bits of chicken tikka a day is more than enough to fully brine.

      So, no, I don’t ever go longer than a day. If it doesn’t have any ingredients that denature protein (e.g lemon) then there’s not really any harm in going longer provided general food safety guidelines are followed.

  11. 5 stars
    Ooo I searched high and low for the pickle and finally found it ..I made the mistake of sticking my finger in to taste it on the way home..I was almost crying haha..made the curry and we loved it we do with all the curries..I made sure I wasn’t too heavy handed with the pickle though..could I add it to other curry’s for a bit of a kick or would it spoil them ?..

    • It’s spicy stuff for sure. I love the taste of naga but be warned it will become a dominant flavour in any curry.

  12. Hi Romain thanks for that. We have just devoured our curry it was absolutely delicious delicious I don’t know how you consistently come up with such great curries. I’ll be making the lamb madras on Thursday I’ll let you know what the family thinks of it. Although I could write the review now I sure. ps madras is the wife’s favourite curry.

    • Awesome to hear! I typically work on my recipes quite a bit before I publish them. You don’t see that part:-)

  13. I’m just prepping to make the naga tikka curry, at the end of the method it says add the tomatoes what tomatoes they are not in the recipe list?

    • I suspect you have a cached version of the page. I removed the tomato from the recipe and ingredients shortly after publishing.

  14. 5 stars
    Hi romain
    Cooking a lamb tikka version of this at the moment
    You mention tomatoes in the recipe method but not in the recipe, if there to be added what quantities

    • Naga everywhere:-) Glad you liked it!

      I’m going to do a little naga tikka bites post soon I think. Just tasty on their own!

  15. 5 stars
    Made this last night using Mr. Vikki’s (UK based company from Cumbria) Queen Naga Pickle that contains over 70% Naga Chillies. It’s certainly a hot one and the Naga taste is lovely. Unfortunately it’s a bit too hot for the wife – I could wind back the pickle a bit but that would reduce the Naga taste.
    I did notice that the oil quantity for the Tikka is missing from the recipe so just added enough to make sure everything was coated. Most of it comes off when cooking anyway, so wasn’t an issue.
    My new favourite recipe!

    • That’s exactly the dilemma. Less naga. Less flavour. Glad you liked it!

      Thanks for the catch. Recipe corrected!

  16. 5 stars
    Lamb Naga Ria is my go to curry from our fave restaurant, super hot and full of flavours … would lamb work with this recipe romain? Luv chicken but luv tender buttery lamb more!

    • I expect this will work just fine with lamb although you will need to adapt the tikka method to cook the lamb.

      You have me stumped on naga ria. I have never heard of it and cannot find it anywhere except on menus. I will hunt through my big Indian from India cookbooks to see what I can learn.

      Lamb madras recipe coming soon!

    • Made this Curry this evening but as a lamb tikka naga curry … outstanding! Loving the hotel style sauce, fab flavours! One query Romain, in you method you mention adding tomatoes at the end but can’t see this in the ingredients list, could you advise quantities? Thanks …

    • My bad. When I came up with this recipe I added a few halved cherry tomatoes. Then I cooked it for the pictures and left the tomatoes out. I can’t even follow my own recipes it seems. I liked it without the tomatoes so I updated the recipe without. But if you want a little tang just add in the tomatoes and warm through.

      Thanks for the catch!

    • Hi Romain, just done this recipe again but with pre-cooked lamb rather doing a tikka. Soooo close to the naga ria dish we get locally (just missing a buttery edge, can’t put a finger on what that is … maybe ghee?). Just an awesome flavoursome dish with a nice turn of heat (a heaped teaspoon of naga pickle, heat & massive flavours), nigh on perfect.

    • Awesome to hear. Lamb sounds delicious and I’m glad it’s close to the naga ria because without coming to your local I’d be hard pressed to figure it out. Maybe try using half ghee/half oil to start and work from there?

  17. I love the taste of Naga Chillies. Just ordered some Naga pickle and am really looking forward to trying this as soon as it arrives!


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