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Chicken Tikka Kebab: Basic Recipe Plus 7 Colourful Variations

Mallika is a content writer and a foodie who loves her native Indian cuisine. She enjoys exploring the cuisine and sharing it with others.

Traditional tandoori chicken tikka is red

Traditional tandoori chicken tikka is red

Tikka Kebab in a Rainbow of Colors

Chicken tikka kebab is an iconic Indian dish that has become very popular overseas, as well. Originating in the tandoor ovens of Punjabi cuisine, this dish is a staple at Indian parties, gatherings, and restaurant menus.

The word tikka means boneless chicken cubes or chunks. Typically, thighs or breasts are used for this dish, though thighs are generally preferred because they are moister and more flavourful.

I am going to show you seven beautiful chicken tikka kebabs with natural colours. The seven colours presented are red, yellow, green, white, pink, brown and black.

Recipes in This Article

  • Basic Chicken Tikka Kebab (refer to this recipe for technique guidelines)
  • Authentic Chicken Tikka (red)
  • Garlic Chicken Tikka (yellow)
  • Hariyali Chicken Tikka (green)
  • Malai Chicken Tikka (white)
  • Kandhari Chicken Tikka (pink)
  • Mughalai Masala Chicken Tikka (brown)
  • Kaala Chicken Tikka (black)

Side Dish Suggestions

Chicken tikka goes with nearly everything. It may be served with chutneys, butter naan, pita bread, simple biryani rice, simple pulav and any salad. Condiments like mayonnaise, mustard sauce and tomato sauce are also tasty accompaniments.

Why Is Traditional Chicken Tikka Red?

Traditionally, chicken tikka kebab and tandoori chicken are red due to the use of red food colour or natural food colour. The latter is obtained by the use of good quality red chilli powder or red chilli infused oil.

Chicken tikka with flavoured rice

Chicken tikka with flavoured rice

Basic Chicken Tikka Kebab Recipe

Whichever chicken tikka kebab recipe you choose, the technique is the same. There are four basic steps: marination, skewering, grilling and basting.

Meat: Boneless and skinless chicken, thighs preferred

Quantity: 500 grams or half kilogram

Necessary Utensils

  • Cutting board and knife
  • Marination bowl
  • Steel or wood skewers
  • Any grilling equipment like a charcoal grill, open flame, electric grill, pan grill or tawa, griddle etc.
  • Basting brush
  • Steel tongs
  • Grill fork
  • Serving plate

Instructions

Step 1: Marination

  1. On a cutting board, cut the chicken into small to medium cubes or chunks.
  2. Transfer the chicken pieces to a bowl. Wash the chicken two times in running water. Drain and squeeze the water from the chicken and transfer the chicken into a clean, dry marination bowl.
  3. Marinate the chicken pieces with the prescribed marinating ingredients and let the chicken rest for the prescribed time (see recipe variations below). Some recipes in this article use single marination and some double marination. Time for the first marination: 1 hour. Time for the second marination: 1 to 2 hours.
  4. For single marination recipes: Marinate the chicken pieces with the prescribed ingredients and let the chicken rest for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
  5. For double marination recipes: Marinate the chicken with the prescribed ingredients of the first marination and marinate for 15 minutes (refrigeration not needed). Take a wide marination bowl and place all the ingredients for the second marination and mix well. Transfer the second marination into the first marinated chicken and mix well. Marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Step 2: Skewering

  1. Skewer the marinated chicken pieces onto steel or wood skewers and set them aside on a plate for 5 minutes. This is to see if any marination liquid drips from the chicken. (Note: If you are using wood skewers, pre-soak the skewers in water completely for 2 hours to avoid burning the skewers while grilling.)
  2. Prepare the grilling equipment to grill.

Step 3: Grilling

  1. Start the grilling of chicken tikka with your desired grilling equipment and grill the chicken on both sides for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. After this time, check if the chicken is cooked or not.

Step 4: Basting

Basting is a cooking technique in which oil or butter or a sauce is applied to the grilled meat with a basting brush to retain the moisture in the meat and to add colour and flavour to it.

  1. When the chicken is 90 percent cooked, take the basting brush and baste the chicken tikkas with butter or ghee or oil or leftover marination paste and let the chicken cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Make sure the tikkas are lightly charred but do not burn them. Transfer them to a serving plate.
  3. Let the kebabs cool down a little bit and remove the chicken tikka kebabs slowly with the help of a grill fork or tongs. Do not poke the kebabs with the fork but use it to remove the kebabs from the skewers. Take care not to tear the tikkas.
  4. Serve the chicken tikka with a side dish and enjoy.
Authentic chicken tikka kebab in fiery red

Authentic chicken tikka kebab in fiery red

1. Authentic Chicken Tikka Kebab (Red)

Authentic chicken tikka kebab is red due to the use of tandoori masala powder and red food colour.

Colour: Red

Cuisine: Punjabi

There are two different ways to make this kebab: one uses tandoori masala powder and the other does not.

Option 1: With Tandoori Masala Powder

Marination type: Single

Marinade Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 3 tablespoons hung curd or thick yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons tandoori masala powder
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon red food colour
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon mustard oil

Option 2: Without Tandoori Masala Powder

Marination type: Double

Ingredients for First Marinade:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for Second Marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons hung curd
  • 1 tablespoon roasted chickpea flour or besan
  • 2 teaspoons red chilli powder infused oil for red colour (see below)
  • 2 teaspoons mustard oil
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed Kasuri methi
  • 1/2 teaspoon black salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chat masala powder
  • Salt to taste

Red Chilli Powder Infused Oil Ingredients:

This oil is used to impart the natural red colour to the food without any artificial food colour.

  • 1/4 mustard cooking oil or other cooking oil
  • 3 teaspoons good-quality red chilli powder or Kashmiri chilli powder

Red Chilli Powder Infused Oil Instructions:

  1. Take a pan and heat it. Keep the heat low. Pour the cooking oil into the pan and heat the oil on medium heat. The oil should be hot.
  2. Switch off the stove and add the chilli powder. Stir the oil continuously for 1 minute. The mixture should be red.
  3. Cool the oil and store it in a kitchen oil container.

Note: If turmeric powder is used in the place of red chilli powder in the above process, it becomes turmeric powder infused oil and it gives a nice yellow colour to the dishes.

Garlic chicken tikka has a sunny yellow colour

Garlic chicken tikka has a sunny yellow colour

2. Garlic Chicken Tikka Kebab (Yellow)

This bright yellow kebab has the flavours of fresh garlic.

Colour: Yellow

Cuisine: Punjabi

Marination type: Single

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons hung curd
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon roasted chickpea flour or besan
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder infused oil. for yellow colour
  • 2 teaspoons mustard oil
  • 2 teaspoons yellow chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons green chilli paste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed Kasuri methi
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chat masala powder
  • Salt to taste

Note: Homemade yellow chilli powder can be made from the seeds of dry red chillis. Deseed 10 to 20 any dry red chillis and blend the yellow seeds in a mixer jar into a smooth powder.

Hariyali chicken tikka kebab contains loads of healthy greens

Hariyali chicken tikka kebab contains loads of healthy greens

3. Hariyali Chicken Tikka Kebab (Green)

The word hariyali means green, and indeed lots of greens are used in this recipe for their colour. It is a healthier kebab that has the benefits of both veg and non-veg nutrients.

Colour: Green

Cuisine: Punjabi

Marination type: Single

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons green paste (see below)
  • 1 tablespoon hung curd
  • 1 tablespoon roasted chickpea flour or besan
  • 2 teaspoons mustard oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed Kasuri methi
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chat masala powder
  • Salt to taste

Green Paste Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
  • 1/4th cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4th cup chopped spinach
  • 6 to 8 green chillis
  • 4 to 5 garlic pods
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons mustard oil

Green Paste Instructions:

Grind all the ingredients for the green paste in a mixer jar into a smooth paste. Do not add water.

Silky and smooth malai chicken tikka kebab

Silky and smooth malai chicken tikka kebab

4. Malai Chicken Tikka Kebab (White)

Malai is fresh cream. This kebab is a milky white colour with a silky, soft texture.

Colour: White

Cuisine: Mughalai

Marination type: Single

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons hung curd
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cream
  • 1 tablespoon cashew paste
  • 1 tablespoon processed cheese paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon green chilli paste
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper powder
  • 2 teaspoons sunflower oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
Kandhari chicken tikka is pretty in pink

Kandhari chicken tikka is pretty in pink

5. Kandhari Chicken Tikka Kebab (Pink)

A perfect appetizer for a ladies' cocktail party, this kebab has a bright pink hue due to the use of beetroot juice extract and fresh pomegranate seed extract.

Colour: Pink

Cuisine: Mughalai

Marination type: Double

First Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Second Marinade Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons thick beetroot juice extract
  • 2 tablespoons hung curd
  • 1 tablespoon cashew paste
  • 2 teaspoons sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed Kasuri methi
  • Salt to taste
Mughalai masala chicken tikka kebab

Mughalai masala chicken tikka kebab

6. Mughalai Masala Chicken Tikka Kebab (Brown)

Mughalai garam masala powder is one of the unique spice powders of the Mughalai cuisine, and this kebab is infused with those flavours. It is a unique and innovative kebab.

Colour: Brown

Cuisine: Mughalai

Marination type: Double

First Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Second Marinade Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons hung curd
  • 2 tablespoons brown onion paste (lightly fried onions made into a paste)
  • 1 tablespoon green chilli paste
  • 1 tablespoon cashew paste
  • 2 teaspoons Mughalai garam masala (see below)
  • 2 teaspoons sunflower oil
  • Salt to taste

Mughalai Garam Masala Powder Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon star anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder

Mughalai Garam Masala Powder Instructions:

Dry-roast all of the above ingredients and then grind into a smooth powder.

Kaala chicken tikka kebab

Kaala chicken tikka kebab

7. Kaala Chicken Tikka Kebab (Black)

This is the only kebab of its kind; it's a spicy kebab that has the authentic flavours of a unique masala powder called kaala (black) masala powder, which comes from the Maharashtrian cuisine. This kebab would be a perfect addition to a Halloween party.

Colour: Black

Cuisine: Maharashtrian

Marination type: Double

First Marinade Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons hung curd
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coriander paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Second Marinade Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons kaala paste (see below)
  • 1 tablespoon kaala garam masala powder (see below)
  • 2 teaspoons groundnut oil, divided
  • Salt to taste

Kaala Paste Ingredients:

  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 small whole dry coconut
  • 5 green chillis
  • 1 teaspoon groundnut oil

Kaala Paste Instructions:

  1. Cut the ends from the onions. Place the onions on direct heat on a gas stove over low flame and char them on all sides. Do not overburn them.
  2. In the same way, char the dry coconut and green chillis separately and set them aside to cool.
  3. Transfer the three charred items into a mixer grinder and make a smooth paste. Do not add any water. This paste should be black. It is the main ingredient that gives the black colour to the kebab.
  4. Take a pan and add the groundnut oil. Roast the kaala paste for 2 minutes. Switch off the stove and cool.

Kaala Garam Masala Powder Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds
  • 3 dry red chillis
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon triphal
  • 1/2 teaspoon nagkesar or Ceylon ironwood
  • 1/2 teaspoon star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Kaala Garam Masala Powder Instructions:

  1. Dry-roast all of the above ingredients and then cool.
  2. Transfer the cooled ingredients into a mixer and blend into a smooth powder.

Alternative Kaala (Black) Kebab Option

There is another way to prepare kaala (black) kebab—and that is by using the meat of black chicken; i.e., the Kadaknath chicken, also known as the Kali Masi chicken. The meat of this breed is black.

A Tikka for Every Occasion

The next time you have a party or gathering, why not choose a platter of chicken tikka kebabs? Take your pick among these gorgeous colours and mouthwatering flavours—there's something to fit every theme and every mood. Enjoy!

© 2021 Mallika Lotus

Comments

Mallika Lotus (author) from Hyderabad, India on October 06, 2021:

Thank you Rozlin.

Rozlin from UAE on October 06, 2021:

Well written and presented article on chicken Tikka kebab with all the 7 yummy recipes. Thank you for sharing Mallika.

Mallika Lotus (author) from Hyderabad, India on October 06, 2021:

Thank you, Mr Bhatt.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 06, 2021:

Very well presented.

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