Chicken ‘cheaters’ masala

Tikka masala. Cheaters masala. Geddit? Here’s a definitely non-authentic but delicious way to achieve some of that classic tikka masala taste in your kitchen at home. No tandor needed!

Serves 4

For the marinade:
700g boneless chicken thighs
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
4 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds
3 cardamom pods, lightly bruised
1 tsp black pepper, ground
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

For the sauce:
60g salted butter
2 small red onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6cm nub of ginger, finely grated
2 tsp tomato puree
400g chopped tomatoes
400g coconut milk
12 curry leaves

Basmati rice
Chopped coriander, to serve

Place the chicken in a large bowl and pour over the oil. Mix the marinade spices together and combine them with the chicken in the bowl. Make sure everything is nicely covered. Leave to marinade for at least 10 minutes but ideally longer.

Fry the chicken in a large saucepan. You shouldn’t need any extra oil. Once it’s browned, remove it from the pan.

To make the sauce melt the butter in the remaining fat (add more vegetable oil if needed) over a medium heat. Add the onions and fry them until they turn translucent. Then add the garlic and the ginger, cook for one minute and stir in the tomato puree. Allow this to cook for a further minute and then pour in the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk.

Simmer for around 30 minutes until the sauce reaches a fairly thick consistency. While the sauce is cooking down, slice the chicken into bitesized pieces and add it back to the sauce once it has thickened up. Stir in the curry leaves, simmer for a further 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and serve with basmati rice and torn coriander.

Photo via Flickr


Curry leaves can prove hard to get hold of but, once you do, they keep very well in the freezer. They have a flavour like nothing else so do use them if you get them.