Dairy-Free Tikka Masala


The exact origins of tikka masala are unknown. However, it is now labeled as the “true national dish of Britain”. Apparently, one in seven curries sold in the UK is tikka masala! 

Chicken tikka masala is one of those dishes that most carnivorous Brits enjoy. That includes me! It’s a curry dish where roasted chunks of chicken (tikka) are served in a creamily rich, lightly spiced, tomato-based sauce. Although chicken is relatively popular, there are other varieties including lamb. 

Indian cuisine is a cuisine that we’ve enjoyed for many years. This used to mean that we had to go out for dinner. Cooking Indian-style food at home is a relatively new project for me. And although I’ve been potentially sitting on this tikka masala recipe for so long, I’ve never been able to make it this good! 

I only looked up this recipe when I heard Chris Moyles ranting about it on Radio 1. It’s one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes, and although I am not a fan of Jamie Oliver, this recipe hits the nail on the head. I can’t believe the only difference in my curries and this curry, was that I didn’t add coconut milk! Ok, you could add yoghurt or cream, but since we’ve omitted American dairy from our diet, it’s pretty difficult… so coconut milk it is!!!

The first really good tikka masala I made, was on Valentine’s Day this year. It was going to be lamb tikka masala. I pre-braised the lamb to ensure that it was soft and tender. It worked well, REALLY well! It was simple and truly delicious and I’ll make it again and again. Since then, I’ve repeated the recipe with chicken thighs, again it was really good! Who would have thought that I would be using a Jamie Oliver’s recipe? Ok, it’s not really a Jamie Oliver recipe, it’s more of my recipe with the addition of the missing ingredient – coconut milk! 

Once again, coconut milk saves the day! Coconut milk is a dairy-free person’s dream come true!



Serves 2 with plain basmati rice

Adapted from “Jamie’s Ministry of Food: Anyone Can Learn to Cook in 24 Hours”, by Jamie Oliver



  • 1 t oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Small bunch of coriander (cilantro), separated into finely chopped stalks and leaves
  • 1 fresh chili, finely chopped (optional)
  • 300 g (⅔ lb) meat, tofu, fish of your choice, cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 70 g (2 ½ oz) or ¼ jar of Patak’s Tikka Masala Paste
  • 200 g (7 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 165 ml (5.6 oz) coconut milk



1. Heat the oil in a large lidded frying pan (skillet), add the onions, ginger, garlic, coriander stalks and chili (if using), stir and cook until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes

2. Add the meat and brown.

3. Add the curry paste and stir for a minute or two.

4. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir, then add the coconut milk.

5. Heat until the curry starts to boil, turn down the heat, put the lid on and simmer for 20 minutes.

6. Serve over basmati rice and/or naan bread. Scatter over the coriander (cilantro) leaves on top and enjoy!

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