Tandoori chicken masala

Tandoori chicken masala is very popular in the UK like chicken tikka masala. I have prepared this dish with tandoori chicken pieces. The creamy texture blended with aromatic spices and tomato sauce goes well with tandoori chicken pieces. I have pretty much used the same ingredients as for tandoori chicken and butter chicken. The only difference being that I have used tomato passata to prepare the sauce. Tomato passata is basically uncooked tomato puree with the seeds and skin strained. I have used the basic tomato passata, which means only tomatoes – no basil or garlic included in it. You can have a look at the ingredients while buying it from the shops.

To prepare the sauce (butter sauce), I have used tomato passata, cooked with spices, cream and ofcourse butter. The butter will give the sauce a more glossy and buttery look. You can refer to my tandoori chicken recipe for making the tandoori chicken and then use it to prepare the tandoori chicken masala. I am not including the tandoori chicken as part of this recipe as it is a long process and deserves to be on its own. To prepare tandoori chicken masala, you need a good amount of time and patience as it is not a quick dish to make. I have added the spices in stages to make the sauce more tasty and delicious.

If you can prepare a bit in advance – like marinating, cooking tandoori chicken and the basic tomato sauce then it can be prepared a lot easily the next day. Prepare this delicious mouth-watering tandoori chicken masala (you can call it butter chicken or murg makahani as well as per my instruction and enjoy with your family and friends. Tandoori chicken masala (Butter chicken) is best served with naan or roti (chapathi, phulka).

Preparation time: 15 mins (excluding marinating time)

Cooking time: 2 hours (including the basic sauce)

Cuisine: North Indian, Punjab

Serves: 2

Spiciness: Medium and sweet


    For tandoori chicken

  • Chicken – 1 kg
  • First marinade

  • Kashmiri chilli powder – 1 tbsp
  • Ginger and garlic paste – 3 tsp
  • Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
  • Second marinade

  • Yoghurt (hung curd or thick) – 1 cup
  • Kashmiri chilli powder – 2 tsp
  • Ginger and garlic paste – 1 tbsp
  • Tandoori spice powder – 1 tbsp
  • Garam masala – 1 tsp
  • Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt – as per taste
  • Saffron colour (optional) – a pinch
  • Kasoori methi leaves – 2 to 3 tsp
  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Butter – for basting
  • For the basic tomato sauce (curry)

  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Butter – 4 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Bay leaves – 3
  • Big cardamom – 2
  • Green cardamom – 5
  • Cloves – 5
  • Cinnamon stick – 1 inch
  • Mace (flower) – 1
  • Tomato pasatta – 500 gms
  • Kashmiri chilli powder – 2 tsp
  • Amchur (optional) – 1/2 tsp
  • Tomato ketchup – 4 tbsp
  • Ginger – 2 tsp
  • Ginger and garlic paste – 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder (roasted) – 1/2 tsp
  • Remaining marinade – 2 tbsp
  • Water – 1 3/4 cup
  • Kasoori methi leaves – 1 tsp
  • Garam masala – 1 tsp
  • Tandoori masala powder (home-made, refer recipe) – 1 tsp
  • Additional ingredients

  • Single cream – 3/4 cup
  • Kasuri methi – 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Gram masala – 1 tsp
  • Sugar – 2 tsp
  • Ginger julienne (thin strips) – 8 or 1 tbsp
  • Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp or a pinch
  • Honey – 2 tbsp
  • Nutmeg – a pinch
  • Roasted cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Cooked tandoori chicken – 2 to 3 pieces
  • Garnishing

  • Ginger julienne – few
  • Single cream – 1 tbsp


  • Cut Ginger into julienne or very thin strips.
  • For tandoori chicken (refer recipe)

  • I have used 4 chicken leg pieces
  • Marinate the chicken with first marinate and then with the second marinate. Refrigerate for 2 days.
  • Take the chicken out of the fridge about 1/2 hour before cooking to bring it to the room temperature. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes each side at 230 degrees celcius without fan. Baste with butter in between.
  • In the end grill for 3 to 4 minutes each side until the tandoori chicken gets a charred look.
  • Apply some butter on the chicken and wrap in aluminium foil to keep the chicken juicy and moist. Keep aside.
  • I have used only two pieces for the butter chicken based on the quantity of the sauce. I have served the remaininf as a starter.
  • Basic buttery tomato sauce

  • Heat the vessel with 1 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp butter. When warm, add the entire whole spices and let it sizzle for about 30 seconds.
  • Add chopped ginger and sauté for about 20 seconds.
  • Simmer the flame. Add ginger and garlic paste, 2 tbsp of leftover tandoori chicken marinade and 1/2 cup liquid (add 1/2 cup water to clear the marinade attached to the vessel) or just plain water. Mix quickly.
  • Add Kashmiri chilli powder, amchur, 1 tsp kasoori methi leaves, roasted cumin powder, 2 tbsp tomato ketchup. Mix well and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add homemade tandoori masala, garam masala, tomato passata, 2 tbsp tomato ketchup. Mix well. Add 1/3 cup water again and cook for about 8 minutes on a medium flame.
  • Add 1 cup water. Allow it to boil and cook for about 40 minutes on a low flame with the lid closed. Stir occasionally.
  • Strain the cooked tomato base (curry) and keep it ready for the tandoori chicken masala.
  • You can prepare this basic tomato sauce one day before and refrigerate it.
  • For the tandoori chicken masala

  • Heat the vessel and add the cooked basic tomato sauce (curry). When it starts to boil, simmer the flame, add 3/4 cup single cream and 1 tbsp kasoori methi leaves. Stir quickly.
  • Add 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder and mix well. Add the cooked tandoori chicken pieces and cook for 30 minutes with the lid closed on a low flame. Stir occassionally.
  • If the sauce (curry) gets dry or gets reduced, you can add water as per the consistency you desire.
  • Add 2 tsp kasoori methi leaves again, 1 tbsp ginger or few thin strips, 2 tbsp honey, a pinch of nutmeg and 1 tbsp butter. Mix well and cook for 20 minutes on a low flame.
  • You can see that tandoori chicken masala has left nice oil on top and its ready for serving.
  • In the end drizzle 2 tbsp cream on the tandoori chicken masala and serve.
  • Or

  • Serve tandoori chicken masala in a serving bowl with cream, naan or rice.


  • For the colour, I always use the biryani colour – saffron or orange colour. You can use beetroot extract or beetroot powder instead of food colour.
  • I have added spices in stages and cooked on a low flame according to my taste and as per the consistency I like. So always taste while adding the ingredients.
  • Add ginger julienne or thin strips as per your taste. You can avoid if you don’t like.
  • Always taste and add the ingredients in the end as everyone has their own taste.
  • You can reduce butter and cream if you want.

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