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Malai Chicken Tikka

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Malai chicken is the posh option. Very easy to make and so good!

There are many different chicken tikka recipes out there. I have quite a few of my favourites here on the blog. Malai chicken is one I make all the time.

The flavours of cream, cream cheese, saffron and black cumin make malai chicken tikka one that stands out from the crowd in a mouthwatering way.

malai chicken

Char grilled malai chicken just plain gets it!

About this malai chicken recipe…

I learned to make malai chicken at a restaurant called Scarfs Bar at the Rosewood Hotel in London.


The head chef at the time, Palash Mitra took me through all the steps to make what was one of his signature dishes. He mixed the marinade ingredients together completely by hand ensure there were not lumps in the marinade.

Then he added the chicken and placed it in the fridge to marinate for 48 hours. I was beginning to think I wouldn’t be able to try this delicious malai chicken but then he brought out a batch that had been marinating for two days and cooked it up.

Do you need to marinate the meat for 48 hours?

For best results, yes. That said, this is a recipe I taught every week in my curry classes and we only had time to marinate the meat for about 40 minutes.

It was still amazing, though if you do have time to marinate longer, it will be even better. 

Do I have to use chicken for this malai chicken recipe?

The marinade works well with many different proteins, from lamb and beef to paneer. So if chicken is not your thing, go ahead and make the marinade anyway.

Use it on the meat or vegetables of your choice. Chicken is by far the most popular option with this marinade though. 

Does the malai chicken need to be cut into tikka as in the photos?

No. Malai chicken tikka is very good but you could use this same marinade on bone in cuts such as chicken legs, thighs or even a whole chicken.

Step by step photographs of malai chicken tikka…

Infusing black cumin seeds into the ghee

Heat the ghee over medium heat and pour in the black cumin seeds. Infuse their flavour in the ghee for 40 seconds and then take off the heat t cool some.


Preparing first marinade for malai chicken

Mix the first marinade ingredients together and then add the chicken.


Marinating the meat

Mix the meat in and let in marinate while you prepare the rest of the marinade.


Adding cream cheese, cream and yoghurt to the mixing bowl

Add the cream cheese, cream and yoghurt. I like to use a large enough dish so this can all be done in the same work place.

Marinating the meat

Using your hands or a whisk to make the dairy ingredients really smooth. Then pour the cooled cumin infused ghee over the meat. 

The meat marinating in finished marinade.

Mix it all together, cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to two days.

Malai chicken on skewers

Thread onto skewers when ready to start cooking.

Malai chicken on the barbecue

Cook over direct heat on skewers. You could also baste it with more melted ghee for additional flavour.

Malai chicken tikka

Or you can cook the malai chicken tikka in a tandoor.

Ready to serve! This malai chicken is good on its own or stirred into a curry.

Malai chicken

Dig in!

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


Afghan Chicken
Pakistani Chicken Kebab
Soola Chicken Tikka

Yield: 6

Malai Chicken

Malai Chicken
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 5 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 - 4 green bird's eye chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 kg (2 1/4 lbs) chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite sized tikka
  • 250ml (1 cup) double (heavy) cream
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tsp royal (black) cumin
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese
  • 4 tbsp coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
  • 100g (1/2 cup) Greek yoghurt


  1. Heat the ghee in a small pan over a low heat, add the royal (black) cumin seeds and let them splutter. Set aside and allwo to cool to room temperature.
  2. Now pour the oil into a deep tray and add the garlic and ginger paste, salt, turmeric, chopped chillies, lemon juice and saffron. Add the chicken tikka and half the cream. Rub this into the chicken, cover and marinate while you prepare the rest of the marinade or over night.
  3. Push the marinating chicken to one side of the tray and spoon in the rest of the cream, the cream cheese, chopped coriander (cilantro) and yoghurt to the other side of the tray.
  4. Work these ingredients together with your hands until they are completely emulsified. This takes about 5 minutes. Pour the cumin and ghee mixture over the chicken and then mix the chicken into the creamy marinade. You could start cooking immediately but if you can allow at least 30 minutes or 24 hours to marinate it will be even better.
  5. To cook the chicken, thread the pieces onto skewers and grill over direct heat until charred on the outside. Alternatively, bake in an oven at 200c (444f) for 6 - 8 minutes or until cooked through.


This Malai chicken recipe is in my cookbooks 'The Curry Guy' and 'The Curry Guy Bible'.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 157Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 752mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 8g

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