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Chicken Tikka Masala from Scratch

Make this chicken tikka masala from scratch today. Red or natural… Your choice.

Having been asked on numerous occasions for curry house style recipes that don’t require a base curry sauce, I came up with this chicken tikka masala from scratch.

It tastes just as good as the base sauce method and you can whip this chicken tikka masala up in about 30 minutes. 


Chicken tikka masala from scratch

Make it natural or bright red. Your choice and both are easy to prepare.

What is the difference between this ‘from scratch’ recipe and the base sauce method?

Time. That’s about it as they both taste the same. The curry house base sauce method can be cooked in about 10 minutes with the prepared base sauce.

This chicken tikka masala recipe takes about 30 minutes but you don’t have to have the base sauce on hand. 

Which cut of chicken?

Although chicken breast is what is used at most restaurants, I prefer thigh as it has more flavour. It’s also usually the cheaper option. 

You can used prepared chicken tikka for this recipe. You could also try leftover cooked chicken. For that matter, you could use raw chicken and just cook it through in the sauce but you will need to add a bit more stock or water to help it cook. 

Do I have to use chicken?

If you want chicken tikka masala you do. But if that isn’t important to you, this sauce goes with pretty much any protein. Try beef, lamb, paneer… If it sounds good, it will be. 


Step by step photographs…

Ingredients for chicken tikka masala from scratch

Gather all of your ingredients before you start cooking. It’s easier that way.

Adding chopped onions to frying pan

Pour the oil into a pan over medium high heat. When visibly hot, stir in the chopped onions.

Stirring garlic and ginger paste into the pan

After about 5 minutes, the onions will be soft and translucent. Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and fry for 30 seconds.

Adding spices and tomatoes to the frying pan

Add the ground spices and the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and then stir in 125ml (1/2 cup) water or unsalted chicken stock

Blending chicken tikka masala sauce

Allow the sauce to cool some and then blend until smooth.

Adding blended sauce to pan

Pour the blended sauce back into the pan over medium high heat. It will be too thick so add some water or stock to thin it some.

Adding chicken to the pan

Now add the pre-cooked chicken. You can also add raw chicken but you will need to cook it longer.

adding cream to chicken tikka masala

Stir in the cream and this is how your chicken tikka masala will look. Add salt to taste and a little lemon juice.

How do I make bright red chicken tikka masala?

That’s easy. At many curry houses, the chefs still add red food colouring powder to the chicken tikka masala sauce to make it red.

That’s really all there is to it. There really isn’t any flavour in the red food colouring. It’s simply done for show.

Chicken tikka masala from scratch

Chicken tikka masala with red food colouring added.

Chicken tikka masala from scratch

Dig in! If you like it red, add that food colouring. The preference at my house is a bit of a mix.


If you like this chicken tikka masala recipe, you might like to try some of these too…

Chicken Dopiaza from Scratch
Beef Madras from Scratch
Chicken Vindaloo from Scratch
Rogan Josh from Scratch
Chicken Korma from Scratch
Chicken Chilli Garlic Curry From Scratch

Yield: 4

Chicken Tikka Masala from Scratch

Chicken tikka masala from Scratch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 tbsp ghee or rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk powder
  • 1 tbsp curry powder or garam masala
  • 1 ½ tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp tandoori masala
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 200g tinned (canned) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste stirred into 3 tbsp water
  • 800g (1 ¾ lbs) cooked chicken tikka or cooked or raw chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tsp red food colouring powder (optional)
  • 200ml (scant 1 cup) single cream (more or less to taste)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 4 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro) finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp garam masala


  1. Heat the ghee or oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. When visibly hot, stir in the chopped onions and fry for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. You could even fry them on a lower heat for longer which will bring out their natural sweetness but do not brown them.
  2. Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and fry over medium high heat for about 30 seconds to cook out the rawness.
  3. Now stir in the ground almonds, coconut milk powder, curry powder or garam masala, paprika, tandoori masala, cumin and ground coriander. Stir this around in the pan to coat the onions.
  4. Because of all the spices used, it will look quite dry in the pan. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and about 125ml (1/2 cup) unsalted chicken stock or water. Bring to a simmer and then take off the heat to cool some.
  5. Place the cooled sauce in a blender and blend until really smooth. Pour the blended sauce back into the pan. It will look way to thick right now so add about 250ml (1 cup) unsalted chicken stock or water and bring to a rolling simmer.
  6. Add the cooked chicken. If using raw chicken, you will need to ensure it is cooked through. When the chicken is heated/cooked through, it’s time to fine tune this curry!
  7. If your sauce is too runny, cook it down. If it’s too thick, stir in a little more water or stock until you are happy.
  8. Stir in the cream and add lemon juice. Add the kasoori methi by rubbing it between your fingers into the sauce and season with salt to taste.
  9. Dust with the garam masala and garnish with the chopped coriander (cilantro).

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I hope you enjoy this chicken tikka masala from scratch recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 

Thomas Callan

Tuesday 9th of August 2022

Wow loved this chicken tikka masala Dan. I've made the one from your curry bible. This is so easy. The only thing I did was use raw chicken and cut down on the stock, used 100mls of double cream (heavy)and used 50gms creamed coconut block. Brilliant. Can't wait to try some other curries from scratch.

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 9th of August 2022

Sounds great. Thanks for letting me know. Dan

Will Harrison

Friday 5th of August 2022

This uses coconut milk powder ,but your recipes using base sauce use coconut flour why is it different

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 9th of August 2022

Lately I have been using coconut milk powder but you can definitely use coconut flour for this recipe. Thanks Dan

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