Chicken tikka masala

Chicken tikka is one of the most popular food dishes in South Africa and you can purchase countless delicious variations of 

this grilled or oven baked (Tandoori) chicken dish all over Cape Town, Durban and many other places in the Country

The dish consists usually of skinless bitesized chicken pieces that have been marinated in a spicy yoghurt dressing and are first grilled and finally fried to become the integral part of an Indian style curry. Although the tandoori (oven) grilled Tikka chicken originates in India the masala version is regarded as an English food dish and has been voted to be one if not the most favorite food in England. However due to a large contingent of South Africans with Indian heritage the dish is as well very popular here.

Preparation time: 30 minutes 
Cooking time: at least 75 minutes
Resting time: 4 to 12 hours
Total time needed: at least 5 H 45 minutes
Grade of Difficulty: standard

This recipe was inspired by Aarti Sequeira you can find her recipe here

A bunny chow (hollowed bread) filled with tikka masala is a true South African food dish that originated in Durban.

A bunny chow (hollowed bread) filled with Chicken tikka masala is a true South African food dish that originated in Durban.

Chicken tikka masala

Ingredients for the Tikka marinadeIngredients for the Tikka marinade
  • 3 chicken breasts, skinned and cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 cup of double cream yoghurt, whipped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5cm / 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, ground
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
Ingredients for the Tikka masalaIngredients for the Tikka masala
  • 3 tbs. of olive oil
  • 8 small to medium ripe tomatoes, quartered
  • 60 ml / 2 oz of ginger-garlic paste, or 5 large cloves of garlic, minced and 5 cm / 2 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 3 bishops crown or Kashmiri peppers, chopped fine, (If they are not available use chilis of similar strength)
  • 50 ml / 1.7 oz tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1. heaped tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. garum masala
  • 1 tbs. crushed and dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 120 ml / 4 oz fresh cream
  • 1/2 handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 handful of fresh parsley, chopped 
  • 2 handful of fresh spinach roughly chopped



  • Add chicken pieces and all other ingredients for marinade to a crock pot or large glas bowl, mix well and  place in the fridge
  • Let chicken rest in marinade for at least 3 hours but preferably over night
Chicken tikka in marinadeChicken pieces in marinade

Tikka masala

  • Add oil to a large pan and braise garlic-ginger paste, bay leaf and chili peppers, stirring them continuously for a few minutes till the paste starts to brown
  • Mix in tomato paste and braise for about 2 minutes
  • Mix in paprika powder, braise for 1 minute
  • Next add tomatoes and salt, switch stove to low heat, cover with lid and simmer all for 30 minutes, stirring it once or twice
  • Remove chicken pieces from the marinade and either place them on a grid above a charcoal fire or on a grid in your oven and let them barbecue / grill / braai for a few minutes on all sides
  • Don't grill them for to long. You just want them to get a nice golden brown color. Take them off the heat, cover and put aside
  • Once the tikka masala has been simmering for 30 minutes add the chicken and fenugreek leaves, cover again, and simmer all for another 30 minutes, stirring the masala a few times. You want the excess liquids to reduce and the tikka masala to thicken and get a nice consistency. 
  • Depending on the amount of liquid that your tomatoes contained you might have to simmer the sauce a few minutes longer or shorter
  • Once masala has a good consistency, add fresh cream and garum masala, mix well, cover with lid and let the sauce gently simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add coriander leaves, parsley and spinach, stir one last time, cover and simmer for 5 more minutes

Take of the heat and serve Chicken tikka masala hot with steamed rice, naan bread or in a typical South African bunny chow

Check out more Indian Recipes

Durban Chicken Curry 

Dhal with Sweet potato and Chard

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