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Richly spiced and creamy with tender meat, this Lamb Tikka Masala will have you making Indian food at home on the regular!

overhead view close up of plate of tikka masala lamb with basmati rice and shirazi salad

The first time I had Indian food was in college; one of my best friends was Indian.

She had a real thing for chicken finger subs, so on the rare occasion when we ventured off campus for a meal, she insisted on going to a local sub shop every time. One night when we were going out to dinner I just couldn’t look at another sub. It was then that she suggested Indian food and I happily agreed.

top view of serving bowl with tikka masala lamb curry

We were there with a few other people and my friend ended up ordering for the table. None of the rest of us had any idea what anything was! One of the dishes she ordered was Chicken Tikka Masala, which instantly stole my heart. After that my friend taught me (after a bit of pleading on my part) how to make a basic Tikka Masala, along with a few other Indian dishes.

You can use any kind of meat you like in this dish. Chicken Tikka Masala is my favorite, but lamb is Mike’s so that’s what I usually end up making. I’ve also made it with paneer cheese, beef, and bison, and they’re also delicious.

front view of serving of lamb tikka masala with basmati rice and shirazi salad

What is Tikka Masala?

Alright, so first things first. If you’re new to Indian cuisine, let’s tackle what this dish is. Tikka Masala is a type of Indian curry consisting of a richly spiced, creamy tomato sauce or gravy.

Lamb Tikka Masala adds lamb, Chicken Tikka Masala adds chicken, and so forth. The meat for this dish is usually marinated in a spiced yogurt mixture, and then skewered and grilled, usually in a tandoor oven (aka a tandoor grill). This type of grill is traditionally made out of clay, and uses an internal wood or charcoal fire.

The smoky char-grilled flavor of the grilled meat adds another layer of complexity to this dish. However, no worries if you don’t have a grill; I also give instructions on how to cook the meat in the oven.

Tikka Masala has a well-balanced flavor profile with a blend of warm and cool spices, a hint of sweetness, a touch of tartness, and creaminess to cool it down. This dish isn’t usually overly spicy-hot, but you can add more jalapenos and/or crushed red pepper flakes to bump up the heat level if you prefer.

front view of lamb tikka masala in serving bowl

Restaurant-Quality Lamb Tikka Masala Recipe

Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list; many of the items are spices. I recommend reading through the whole recipe before starting, and then prepping all your ingredients. You’ll find that this recipe is quite approachable!

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas. For the full recipe (including ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

Lamb and Marinade Ingredients

lamb tandoori ingredients
  • Lamb – trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes (I like loin or sirloin meat for this)
  • Plain unsweetened yogurt – using yogurt as a marinade acts as a meat tenderizer
  • Garlic – adds flavor and aroma
  • Garam masala spice mix – this Indian spice mix adds tons of flavor
  • Salt – this seasoning ensures our meat isn’t bland

Tikka Masala Gravy (Sauce) Ingredients

tikka masala ingredients
  • Clarified butter – also called ghee; this is to cook the vegetables
  • Onion and green bell peppers – these are classic vegetables in Tikka Masala; you can use any color of bell peppers you like
  • Salt and black pepper – to season the dish
  • Jalapeno, garlic, and ginger – these aromatic ingredients add depth of flavor and a touch of spice
  • Bay leaf – a bay leaf is one of those things if you don’t have, you can just skip
  • Garam masala spice mix – an aromatic Indian spice mix used in many curry recipes
  • Coriander and cumin – earthy spices
  • Crushed red pepper flakes – this amount of crushed red pepper flakes adds just a touch of spicy heat, feel free to add more if you like hot food
  • Fenugreek – this classic Indian spice adds incredible depth of flavor with caramel-like notes and an aroma similar to maple syrup
  • Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg – warm spices
  • Cardamom – a cool spice
  • Beef broth – you can use water instead and your curry won’t really suffer for it
  • Tomato sauce and tomato paste – adds tomato flavor and helps thicken our Tikka Masala gravy
  • Coconut sugar – for a touch of sweetness; or you can use light brown sugar
  • Fresh lemon juice – we need a little acid to balance the flavor profile
  • Heavy whipping cream – for rich flavor and creamy texture; if you want to reduce the fat and calories a little bit in this dish, you can reduce the amount of heavy whipping cream to 1/2 cup without sacrificing the flavor or texture
  • Fresh cilantro – adds fresh, bright flavor and pretty green color; if you aren’t a fan of cilantro, you can substitute with fresh parsley

Instructions

You’ll be surprised at how easy this recipe is to make. The cooking methods used are all beginner-friendly.

Step 1: Marinade the Lamb

how to marinate lamb for tandoori

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. 

Step 2: Make the Tikka Masala Gravy

making gravy for lamb tikka masala
  1. Heat the ghee over medium heat in a large, deep-sided pan with a lid. Once hot, add the onion, bell pepper, salt, and black pepper, and sauté (uncovered) until starting to soften but not brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Add the jalapeno, garlic, and ginger, and sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the bay leaf, 2 1/2 teaspoons garam masala, coriander, cumin, and crushed red pepper flakes, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and fenugreek, and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. 
  3. Stir in the broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring up to a boil, cover the pan, turn heat down to low, and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is thickened, 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Step 3: Cook the Lamb

how to make lamb tikka without tandoor oven

While the gravy simmers, skewer meat and fully cook on a grill or in a hot oven (see the Notes in the recipe card below for instructions on how to cook it in the oven).

Step 4: Add the Finishing Touches to the Sauce

adding cream and lamb tikka to tikka masala gravy

Turn the heat off and stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, cream, cilantro, and cooked lamb. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Storage and Reheating

Storage: Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Reheating: Cook over medium-low heat on the stovetop until warm throughout, making sure it doesn’t come to a boil (to prevent cream from curdling).

What to Serve with Tikka Masala

If you’re wondering what to eat with Tikka Masala, there are tons of options! Many of these choices are gluten free (such as rice), and some are low carb (like salad). There’s something for everyone.

Here are a few ideas for what to eat with Tikka Masala:

overhead view portion of lamb tikka masala with rice and chopped salad on plate

Lamb Tikka Masala Meal Prep

People ask me a lot about what meals I keep stocked in my freezer – this one is a staple!

I freeze individual servings and then when we need a quick meal I can defrost however many servings we need. Then come dinnertime, I just whip up a quick pot of rice and dinner is on the table.

But here’s a little secret: while most people enjoy this dish eaten over rice, I actually prefer it eaten on its own, like stew, with a dollop of yogurt on top. Either way you can’t go wrong.

More Lamb Recipes to Try

close up of lamb tandoori with tikka masala sauce in serving dish

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Lamb Tikka Masala

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Other Time2 hours
Yields: 8 servings
Richly spiced and creamy with tender meat, this Lamb Tikka Masala will have you making Indian food at home on the regular!

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Ingredients
 

Lamb and Marinade:

  • 1 1/2 pounds lamb trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes (I like loin or sirloin meat for this; 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of meat is fine; see Note below)
  • 1/2 cup plain unsweetened yogurt
  • 3 large cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala spice mix
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Tikka Masala Gravy:

For serving:

Instructions
 

For the Lamb and Marinade:

  • Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
  • While the gravy simmers, skewer meat and fully cook on a grill or in a hot oven (see Notes for instructions on how to cook it in the oven).

For the Gravy:

  • Heat the ghee over medium heat in a large, deep-sided pan with a lid. Once hot, add the onion, bell pepper, salt, and black pepper, and sauté (uncovered) until starting to soften but not brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the jalapeno, garlic, and ginger, and sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add the bay leaf, 2 1/2 teaspoons garam masala, coriander, cumin, and crushed red pepper flakes, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and fenugreek, and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  • Stir in the broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, and lemon juice.
  • Bring up to a boil, cover the pan, turn heat down to low, and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is thickened, 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Turn the heat off and stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, cream, cilantro, and cooked lamb. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

To Serve:

  • Serve the lamb tikka masala topped with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro if desired, alongside prepared basmati rice.

Notes

  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Reheating: Cook over medium-low heat on the stovetop until warm throughout, making sure it doesn’t come to a boil (to prevent cream from curdling).
  • Meat Options: Instead of lamb, sometimes I also make this dish with chicken, beef, or bison. If you make it with chicken, use chicken broth instead of beef broth; the other ingredients and cooking methods are the same.
  • To Cook the Meat in the Oven: If you have large metal skewers, skewer the meat and place it so meat is suspended and the metal skewers hang over the sides. If you don’t have large metal skewers, place the meat on a foil-lined baking tray. Cook the meat in a 500F oven for 15 minutes, and then broil it for 5 minutes (flipping halfway through broiling) to brown it.

Nutrition

Calories: 417kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 99mg | Sodium: 1194mg | Potassium: 702mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1057IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Lamb Masala, Lamb Tikka Masala, Lamb Tikka Masala Recipe

Share it with me on Instagram and leave a comment to let me know your thoughts!

lamb tikka masala pin

This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on March 4, 2011 and updated on October 6, 2023. As a point of comparison to show how much my photography has evolved, I kept one of my original photos (below).

IMG_9916(small)
Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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Recipe Rating




34 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is the 5th recipe I’ve tried and I am so happy! Tried my best to match a local restaurant to save on ordering out. This is perfect and buy far the most addictive!

  2. Barbara Barry says:

    I just tried this recipe. It turned out great, but the ginger was a little overpowering. I think I’m going to try it again but with a 1/3 less ginger. Could just be my taste though. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Look delicious. Never seen tikka masala with lamb before.

  4. I imagine how muc fun u guys must have had.
    We love tikka masala too and this recipe is sure absolutely fantastic.
    AM sure ur having a wonderful trip and lods of fun.

  5. I love Indian food…esp tikka masala! I’d use chicken, too.

  6. This has a lot more going on than the recipe I’ve been using. I think I need to try it!

  7. I can’t believe you only just tried Indian food? I’m impressed you stuck with the chicken finger subs for as long as you did, Indian food is wonderful, bet you were kicking yourself after that? :) Im not a big lamb fan, but it is better in Indian food as you can mask the taste of the meat more easily. LOL. I know… Weird right?!

  8. chicken finger subs? no no no! this is the way to go, for sure. :)

  9. I love Indian food but the ease of buying it stops me making it often, which is bad! Your delicious tikka masala looks like just the inspiration to get back to the kitchen :)

  10. Yum! I love tikka masala! Since a lovey friend sent me some delicious spices I can give this a try at home…yum!

  11. I have never tried this dish. It sounds wonderful with all of those spices and flavors. Thanks for sharing it:)

  12. I don’t eat lamb, but hubby does and he loves lamb tikka masala. I really need to learn to make this for him. Yours looks so wonderful and authentic. Someone I know would be drooling over this. Hope you guys are having a great vacation.

  13. This looks even better than what I order at my favorite Indian restaurant here in Austin. I need to make this as soon as I can! Thanks for sharing with me tonight. Enjoy your weekend…take time to rest, laugh and eat some great food!

  14. i love indian food … but i need to take a class in indian food terminology! i just can’t remember what means what. cheers!

  15. Tikka Masala is one of my favorite curries. Never tried it with lamb, but sounds really good.

  16. I think I’ve told you this before, but I had a bad experience with Indian food and have been afraid to try it since! This looks totally interesting and do-able though! Hope your trip is going well :)

  17. Heavenly Housewife says:

    Tikka Masala is a great intro to Indian food, not to spicy, but super flavorful and delicious.
    *kisses* HH

  18. This dish is haunting me. I want to make it only with this and that I haven’t got the chance yet. it looks delicious Faith!

  19. I LOVE Indian food! My roommate freshman year was Indian too, and her parents owned a restaurant in NYC so when they came to visit they brought tupperwares of food for us – yummm! I will definitely try this recipe, I’ve been meaning to stock up on Indian spices.

    Thanks for sharing!

  20. I haven’t experimented much with Indian food, but this looks like a good recipe to get me going.
    Mimi

  21. That dish looks really good! Delicious flavors.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  22. i cant eat lammy poo but i’m sure as hell making that gravy to douse my chickpeas with! <3 deeelish girl!

    I made chickpea tikka masala last night and can't get enough! <3

    have a great weekend!

  23. I love indian food! I haven’t made anything like this, but I really should—it looks awesome!

  24. Have a fantastic time, Faith! I can’t wait to see your pictures and hear all about the trip. Bon voyage! :-)

  25. I like chicken tikka masala n paneer tikka masala and this looks so yum..love the pic and I must be coming after a long to your space Faith dear …love the new look ..looks awesome ..and hope you are enjoying your holiday …hav fun

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