A popular dish in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, versatile Murgh (Chicken) Tikka reinvents itself in various forms: on skewers, in curries, on sizzling hotplates.

Alvina Rehman

Alvina Rehman prepared her father’s version of chicken tikka using four chicken marylands – cooking it on the stove top rather than over a hot coal BBQ as it was done during her childhood in Karachi, Pakistan. A single piece of burning wood charcoal is placed and sealed in the frying pan with the freshly cooked chicken to add a delicious smokiness and BBQ flavour to the dish.

What is your earliest memory of eating this dish?

I have been eating this dish since childhood.

How did you learn to cook it?

This recipe was taught by my father. He used to invite people especially on Eid celebrations. Lots of chicken, lamb and beef was marinated at night for the next day. He had a big barbeque area. Lots of family and friends used to come and stay till late enjoying the celebration.

Is this a regular “everyday” meal, or something more special?

This recipe fits for all occasions. The dish brings people together because of its aroma and the way it is cooked.

Murgh Tikka Recipe

Serves 4


  • 4 chicken Maryland pieces, skin off
  • 300 g Basmati rice
  • 1 kg plain yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 piece of wood charcoal

Ingredients for marinade

  • 1 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic paste
  • 1 ½ tsp ginger paste
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 ½ tsp roasted and crushed cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala powder (cumin, clove, black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon)
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp rock salt
  • ¼ tsp yellow food colouring
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Ingredients to flavour rice

  • 1 pinch saffron, soaked in ¼ cup of milk prior to preparing the rice
  • 3 to 4 drops Kewra water
  • 3 whole green cardamoms
  • 3 cloves
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp rock salt
  • 1-inch stick of cinnamon

Instructions for dough

  • Wash hands thoroughly.
  • Mix flour, water, salt and yeast together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add water slowly, bit by bit, and mix gently until a kneadable soft but not watery dough is formed. Don’t over knead or consistency will be chewy.
  • Let stand for 30 minutes and allow to rise.

Ingredients for Raita

  • 1 cup plain yogurt, whisked with a small amount of water (don’t add too much or it will be watery)
  • ½ cup finely chopped and seeded cucumber
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped tomato
  • ¼ cup finely chopped mint
  • ¼  tsp ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • Chilli powder to taste, optional


  • Wash hands thoroughly
  • Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towel
  • Put one cup of yoghurt in a bowl. Add garlic, ginger, lemon juice, cumin powder, chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder, salt, food colouring and olive oil to yoghurt. Mix well.
  • Rub the mixture on the chicken pieces, ensuring it enters the cut ends as well.
  • Allow chicken to marinate for 4 hours
  • Heat a large, deep frying pan with lid over low heat. Add oil or butter to heated pan.
  • Transfer marinated chicken pieces into frying pan and cover with lid.
  • Keep turning the chicken intermittently until fully cooked.
  • Once cooked, place the burning piece of wood charcoal, contained in a small vessel, inside the frying pan containing the chicken. Immediately add oil or butter on to the burning charcoal piece, and cover the frying pan with a tight lid, allowing the smoke to infiltrate the chicken pieces.
  • Remove the charcoal after about 5 minutes, or just before serving the chicken

Directions for Rice

  • Prepare the rice according to packet instructions – but drain it once it’s 70% cooked.
  • Put the strainer containing the rice aside.
  • Using the rice pot, add butter, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon and sauté for a few minutes. Transfer the rice into the pot and add the saffron, ½ tsp of garam masala, ¼ tsp of rock salt and the drops of Kewra water.
  • Mix well until heated through and serve.

Directions for Raita

  • Put one cup of yogurt in a container and whisk with a little water – take care not to make it watery.
  • Add the finely chopped cucumber, onion, tomato and mint and mix.
  • Season with cumin, salt and black pepper.
  • Chilli powder is optional.

How do you serve the dish?

  • Lots of garden salad
  • Caramelised onions
  • Raita
  • Red onion rings with coriander
  • Mint chutney
  • Spicy tamarind chutney
  • Garlic naan

Do you have any tips for using leftovers creatively?

Make wraps or sandwiches with left over chicken

Do you have any time saving recipe shortcuts?

Can omit saffron and replace with food colour.

Rice can be prepared beforehand.

Chicken tikka can be prepared and cooked beforehand and warmed up before serving.

Download Recipe here

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