The First Tikka Masala | Recipe Rewind S1E10

We’re ending Series One with a bang – by making the predecessor of Britain’s National Dish: the Tikka Masala.

First printed in 1961, it is asserted that Mrs Balbir Singh’s ‘Shahi Chicken Masala’ is the original Tikka recipe, despite not bearing the ‘tikka’ moniker. It’s certainly as similar as you can get, especially when you consider the other most prominent claimant recalls their serendipitous invention of the Tikka as taking place ten years later.

Recipe Rewind will be back for a new and improved Series 2 this summer.

For reading on the history of the Tikka Masala:

General history of the curry

On the various claims

Mrs Balbir Singh’s website



  • 680g of chicken, or equivalent meat/vegetarian substitute
  • 85g of Ghee
  • 85g of thinly sliced onions
  • 20g of root ginger, roughly chopped
  • 9 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoons of coriander seeds
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 85g tomatoes
  • 4 green cardamoms, bruised/crushed with the blade of a knife
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of chilli powder (how spicy do you like it?)
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons of salt, depending on taste
  • 240ml water
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of cornflour dissolved in 120ml water
  • 150ml cream
  • 45g ground almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped green coriander leaves

Items it is recommended you include if available: 115g khoa, 2 Indian bay leaves

In a pan, brown the onions in the ghee. Remove the onions once done and set aside.

Grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns to a powder, and mix with ginger and garlic. Grind to a fine paste.

Blanch the tomato, peel and chop. Reheat the ghee and add the crushed cardamoms to let the spices absorb, then add the spices paste, onions, and the tomato, and fry for 5 to 7 minutes, adding water every once in a while.

Add chilli powder and stir into the mix, add your meat and salt, then fry for 10 minutes. Add the cornflour/water mix, cream, ground almonds, and garam masala, then let simmer until a desired consistency.

Sprinkle on top green coriander leaves and serve.


Written by Benjamin Daniels


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