The word tikka means bits, pieces, or chunks in India. Chicken tikka is an easy-to-cook dish in which pieces of chicken are marinated in special spices and then grilled on skewers. This is one of India's most popular dishes. Chicken tikka can also be made into chicken tikka masala, where the grilled chicken pieces are added to a tasty gravy.
Traditionally, chicken tikka is baked in a clay oven called a tandoor, which basically makes this recipe a boneless chicken version of the Indian dish tandoori chicken. Since most of us don't have a tandoor, using a grill or the oven is a good alternative. Enjoy this chicken tikka with warm naan or serve as an appetizer for your next party.
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- 1 cup packed fresh coriander leaves (cilantro; finely chopped), more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons ginger paste
- 3 tablespoons garlic paste
- 3 to 4 tablespoons garam masala
- 6 peppercorns (or 2 dry red chilies)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
- Optional: 1/2 teaspoon orange food coloring
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 1/4 pounds/1 kg chicken breast (skinless, boneless, cut into 2-inch chunks)
- 1 large onion (sliced into thin rings)
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (or lemon juice, freshly squeezed)
- 1 teaspoon chaat masala, more to taste
- Naan or basmati rice for serving
- Garnish: lime or lemon wedges
Gather the ingredients.
Add the coriander, ginger, garlic, garam masala, peppercorns, salt, and food coloring, if using, to the bowl of a food processor. Process into a smooth paste, scraping down the bowl occasionally.
Scrape the mixture into a large bowl with a silicone spatula, add the yogurt, and adjust the seasonings to taste. Add the chicken pieces, tossing to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Thread the chicken onto skewers leaving some space between each piece so the chicken cooks evenly. Preheat a grill to medium-high or position a rack in the top of the oven and preheat to 400 F.
Place the skewers on the grill or in your oven with a tray underneath to catch drippings. Cook until the chicken is browned on all sides and tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Transfer the skewers to a serving plate
Put the onion rings in a separate bowl and squeeze lime juice over them. Sprinkle the chaat masala over and mix well so the onions are fully coated. Top the chicken with the prepared onions, garnish with remaining coriander and serve with naan or Basmati rice.
- You need to plan ahead when making this dish as the chicken should sit in the yogurt and spice marinade overnight.
- If using wooden skewers, make sure to soak them for 10 minutes in water before threading the chicken. This helps keeps the wood from burning.
What's the Difference Between Chicken Tikka and Chicken Tikka Masala?
Chicken tikka is a grilled or roasted dish where the meat is marinated in yogurt and a mix of spices. Chicken tikka masala has the same flavors but includes a sauce or gravy that often also includes tomatoes.
Is Chicken Tikka Spicy?
The level of spice in your chicken tikka will depend on if you use chili peppers or not. Typically, chicken tikka is flavorful but not especially spicy. The yogurt helps to minimize any real spice in the dish.