Murg Malai Tikka/ Chicken Malai Tikka Recipe

Murg Malai Tikka/ Chicken Malai Tikka

Murg Malai Tikka/ Chicken Malai Tikka

Murg Malai Tikka/ Chicken Malai Tikka is a popular North Indian recipe for marinated chicken pieces, grilled over charcoal resulting in soft, juicy kebabs that will simply melt in your mouth. Tender pieces of boneless chicken are marinated in a unique blend of yogurt, cream, cheese, and spices and cooked on a grill or oven.

Chicken Malai Tikka is perfect for an outdoor barbecue or grilling in the oven. Murg Malai Tikka (murgh – chicken, malai – cream, tikka- bite-size grilled piece of food) is not overwhelmingly spicy, these kebabs are mild and creamy with a rich taste that lingers on long after they have disappeared. Serve with a dollop of mint chutney and your taste buds would definitely be on a dancing spree!

My husband loves Murg Malai tikka! The soft succulent chicken with the with layers of flavour is out of this world. It is important to marinate the chicken for a long period of time to develop deep flavours. My recipe calls for 3 marinates and believe me that it makes a huge difference to the tikka. The layer of marinates not only helps in tenderizing the chicken but also builds layers of flavour.

Tikkas are best cooked on metal skewers. The meat cooks not only from the heat of the coals but also from the hot skewers and that produces tender and juicy pieces of tikka. Murg Malai Tikka can be made on regular pan, on grill pan, in oven or over barbecue. If you plan to make it in the oven or grill pan, I have written some tips on how to give the tikka’s smoky BBQ flavour. This is a remarkably simple recipe that requires very few ingredients and hence easy to prepare.


300 gm chicken thighs (1-inch pieces)
First Marinade
2 tablespoons ginger, garlic paste
Second Marinade
½ lime juice
To grind for Third Marinade
handful cashew nuts
2-3 green chillies (medium to hot)
1 teaspoon roasted cumin seed powder
½ teaspoon cardamon powder
½ teaspoon poppy seeds (khus khus)
To Marinade
2-3 tablespoons plain hung yogurt
2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala
2-3 tablespoons double cream
2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander



Marinate the clean chicken tikka pieces in ginger garlic paste and leave it aside for 10-15 minutes.

Next add lime juice and mix it well coating the chicken with the lime juice and leave it aside for another 10 minutes.


Grind the cashew nuts, green chillies, cardamon powder, poppy seeds, roasted cumin seed powder with some water for the third marinade into a fine paste.


Mix the marinade paste, fenugreek leaves, salt, garam masala, cream, yogurt, coriander, and cheese together. Taste to check the spicing as the marinade needs to be slightly hot.


Add the chicken pieces to the marinate and rub it gently coating all the tikkas. (There might be some excess water while marinating the chicken especially the first and second marinade. Always drain it off otherwise the marinade will become watery)

Cover and keep aside for at least 4-5 hours or preferably overnight.


Light the charcoal until white hot. Skewer the chicken pieces.Gently place the skewered tikkas over the hot coals. Be sure to rotate the skewers regularly so that the chicken chars on the exterior and cooks evenly through. It takes around 6-8 minutes to cook the tikka.  You can baste the chicken with some oil while cooking.

Drizzle with some chaat masala and lime juice and serve hot with some green chutney.

Tips & Variations

  1. Boneless chicken thigh gives a more tender and moist texture to the tikka however you can use chicken breast or drumsticks as well.
  2. While preparing the first marinade I sometimes add some fresh turmeric with the ginger and garlic as that give a mellow earthy flavour to the tikka.
  3. Make sure to adjust the quantity of chilli according to the variety of chilli you use and your taste. Remember you can add more but cannot take it away. You can always grind a couple of green chilies, taste and then add more if needed.
  4. If you do not have cashews, then you can add either some peeled almonds or pine nuts. The taste will be slightly different but still taste delicious.
  5. If you are allergic to nuts, then the marinade paste can be made without adding any nuts. I would suggest using 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds and 1 teaspoon of melon seeds alongside the hung yogurt to give it a rich flavour.
  6. I always use hung curd to marinate any tikkas as there is no excess liquid or water and as a result the tikkas are moist and succulent and absorbs the spices better. For making hung curd the easiest way is to place 3 to 4 tablespoons of yogurt in a strainer for 30 minutes. When most of the water drains out, the yogurt is now ready to be used in the marination. It usually takes 2-3 hours.
  7. Minimum time for marinating is 4-5 hours but it is always better to marinate overnight for the spices to infuse in the chicken.
  8. Cooking in Pan- You can cook tikka skewers on a cast iron grill pan or a normal frying pan. Heat a pan and drizzle some oil. Cook the skewers from all sides until cooked and slightly charred. After cooking, you can smoke the tikka with hot charcoal for the BBQ grilled tikka aroma and flavours.
  9. Cooking in the oven- Spread the marinated chicken tikka on a baking dish and cook for 10-15 minutes in a preheated oven at 250C/230 fan/Gas 9. Flip the tikka after 7 minutes for even baking.
  10. If you are cooking the tikka in oven or pan, then I would highly recommend that you smoke the chicken tikka to elevate the flavours and aroma. Heat a piece of charcoal over direct heat until it is red hot. With the help of tongs, keep on turning the charcoal piece so that it burns evenly. Make a small bowl using aluminium foil and place it on the chicken platter. Place the hot charcoal in the bowl-shaped foil and pour melted ghee/oil on top of the hot charcoal. You will see smoke coming out of charcoal. Immediately cover the platter with an aluminium foil and let it remain like this for 2-3 minutes. After 2-3 minutes, remove the charcoal bowl. The longer you keep the lid closed, the smokier the chicken will infuse. Usually 2 minutes is enough, but you can experiment with it based on your taste.
  11. Do not over smoke the food as it will result in an acrid, overpowering flavour that can destroy all other flavours. It is always better to aim for subtlety and remember that as long as smoke comes into contact with food, it will have at least some smoke flavouring.

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