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Easy Homemade Tandoori Paste Recipe for Curry

A popular Indian paste which is also called tikka or tikka masala. It is traditionally used to marinade chicken, but is also a good marinade for tofu, vegetable or halloumi. 

Bowl of Homemade Tandoori Paste Recipe

Easy Homemade Tandoori Paste Recipe for Curry

Tandoori paste, which is also called tikka or tikka masala is easy to make at home.

Just like what you find in Indian restaurants, but the advantage of making this tandoori masala at home is you know exactly what is in it and you can tweak it to make a hotter curry paste if you like.

It also has none of the additives or preservatives in shop-bought curry paste.

So put the Patak's Tandoori Marinade Paste  (or Patak's Tandoori Paste) back on the shelf and make your own.

It really is a quick curry paste you can make at home.

Homemade Marinade

Tandoori paste is a really popular Indian marinade

It is mostly commonly used in a chicken dish (chicken tikka masala), but of course it's the perfect marinade for veggie dishes too.

Vegetarians could coat halloumi in it before crisping it on the BBQ and vegans can use it to marinade tofu before grilling it. 

You could also use it to marinade onions wedges or vegetables and cook them on a grill or on the BBQ.

What is a Tandoor?

The word tandoori comes from the word tandoor (or tandoor oven) which is the oven a tandoori is cooked in.

Traditional Indian or Pakistan tandoor clay oven

The tandoor is a clay oven (nowadays these can be metal) that is traditionally used in Pakistan and India to cook and bake.

It's an outdoor oven and it's still popular today. It takes very little fuel to heat and stays hot for a long time, so it's very economical.

Cooking in a tandoor

Wood or charcoal is burned in the bottom of these pots and when the optimum temperature is reached (and the flames are out), the food is cooked in the pot above the searing heat.

These outdoor ovens are kept burning for long periods and can reach a temperature of 480c (900f).

Flatbreads are thrown onto the pot walls inside the ovens where the heat helps them to stick to the side. They are peeled of when they are cooked through.

Skewers (kebabs) are propped up and cooked inside the oven or across the mouth of the oven.

Tandoori Paste

Tandoori paste is a popular marinade in India, Pakistan and here in the UK. It is also referred to as tikka or tikka masala.

The main spices in this dish are always the same, but some ingredients will change slightly from recipe to recipe. 

Most recipes include garam masala, but I use the individual flavours in the garam masala. Chilli is also added, but I keep my masala on the milder side as I have a child who doesn't like things too hot. 

When you make it you can add more chilli to suit your taste.

Making tandoori paste

The spices are mixed with oils and yogurt to make this creamy marinade. 

You can use plain yogurt or dairy-free plain yogurt.

I used soy sauce for the salty flavour in my marinade as I use it for marinading tofu, and salt can pull the moisture out of the tofu, but you can use salt, if you are marinating something other than tofu.

Which oil to use?

I also use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, as a healthier alternative, but again you can choose the oil you add to your marinade. 

Just make sure you choose a mild oil, this is not the time to use olive oil, which would overwhelm other flavours and burns too quickly.

Spices in tandoori paste

The aromatic spices in homemade tandoori curry paste vary from recipe to recipe, but they all have a few key spices in common.

For this easy recipe for tandoori spice paste, you need these spices:

  1. Ground turmeric
  2. Ground coriander
  3. Ground cumin
  4. Chilli powder
  5. Fresh ginger - you could use ground ginger or ginger paste
  6. Fresh garlic - or garlic powder
  7. Paprika

What else do you need to make homemade tandoori paste?

Here are the other simple ingredients you need to make this tasty curry paste.

The printable recipe with full ingredient list and method is a the bottom of this page.

  1. Coconut oil - or another mild oil
  2. Tomato puree - tomato paste
  3. Honey - agave nectar or sugar for sweetness
  4. Soy sauce - or salt
  5. Plain Yoghurt - or Greek yoghurt
  6. Water - to thin the paste

Red Tikka Paste

If you prefer the red tikka masala sauce instead of this creamier tandoori paste, add an extra teaspoon of paprika and chilli powder and add a little extra oil to make a paste.

Just skip the yoghurt.

Some people prefer tikka marinade without the yoghurt and it will give you that iconic red tikka masala sauce.

You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice which makes the tikka masala sing.

This way of making tandoori or tikka sauce will last longer in the fridge and can be frozen too

It's up to you which way you prefer it, with or without the yoghurt.

Give it time to rest

As with any good soup, stew or curry, a curry paste will improve if it has time to sit.

This gives the flavours a chance to really develop.

So, if you can try to make it the day before.

Of course, it will still be tasty on the day you make it but it will have an even richer flavour the next day.

Storing homemade tandoori paste

The paste can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for 4-5 days.

You can also freeze it.

Either portion it into ice cube trays, freeze, then pop the cubes of paste into a freezer bag  (labelled zip lock bags) or just freeze in a freezer-friendly airtight container or freezer bag.

To defrost, take out of the fridge the night before you need it and leave it in the fridge to defrost.

It can be frozen for 3-4 months.

Also try Easy Aubergine Balti, if you love a good curry.

For a longer shelf life

If you want to have some tandoori sauce ready to go, but to longer,  you make the mixture and store it in the fridge minus the yoghurt.

Just add the yoghurt before using. 

This spice mix (without the yoghurt and sweetener) will last in the fridge for a week or two.

Alternatively, make up a dry spice mixture with ground turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, chilli powder, ground ginger (instead of fresh), garlic powder (instead of fresh garlic), paprika, sugar (instead of honey or agave nectar) and salt (instead of the soy sauce).

Give this spice blend a good mix and store this dry mix in a jar or airtight container.

Then, when you want to make the paste, just add the tomato puree, oil, yoghurt and water , then mix until you have a smooth paste.

You can store this spice mix for months in a dry, dark cupboard.

Ideas for using tandoori paste

Here are a few more ideas for using tandoori paste, apart from the most obvious.

Crispy Vegetable Bhajis.
  • Tofu - as you can see from the photo above I marinade tofu in it before roasting in the oven or adding to skewers and cooking on the BBQ
  • Halloumi - or dairy-free halloumi roasted, fried or grilled and served with a salad, on wraps or on a pitta
  • Potato wedges - coat wedges of potato in the tandoori paste and roast in the oven
  • Vegetable curry - make a vegetable tikka masala
  • Extra spicy onion bhajis (or vegetable bhajis) - add some tandoori paste to the batter to add extra flavour, try these air fry (or oven-baked) vegetable bhajis, they are so crispy and less fat
  • Samosas - make a cheat version of samosas, using either ready-rolled puff pastry or shortcrust pastry and fill with small dice of onion and veg tossed through some tandoori sauce
  • Sauce for wraps or flatbread - mix some of this tikka sauce with mayo to make a tasty sauce to spread on lunch wraps or flatbread before adding onion bhajis, salad and mango chutney

Skip the Indian restaurant and have a curry night at home

Here are some of my favourite curry night recipes, perfect if you love Indian food and easy Indian recipes.

Indian Sambar Stew.
Serve these on the side:

Easy Homemade Tandoori Paste Recipe for Curry

Easy Homemade Tandoori Paste Recipe for Curry
Yield: 6 servings
Author: Jacqueline Meldrum
Prep time: 3 MinTotal time: 3 Min
A popular Indian paste which is also called tikka or tikka masala. It is traditionally used to marinade chicken, but is also a good marinade for tofu or halloumi.


  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder (more if you like)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 1/2 cm (1 inch) piece of fresh ginger, grated (or 2 teaspoons of ground ginger)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (or 2 teaspoons garlic powder)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or other mild oil)
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar (sugar or honey)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce (or salt)
  • a good grinding of black pepper
  • 200g (just under 1 cup) plain yogurt (or Greek yoghurt)
  • 2-3 tablespoons water


  1. Mix all the ingredients together, except for the yogurt and water. This will make your paste. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
  2. Once you are ready to marinade, add the yogurt to the paste and then enough water to get the right consistency, approximately 2-3 tablespoons.
  3. Mix your tofu, halloumi or vegetables in the marinade, spoon into an air-tight container and leave in the fridge to soak up the flavours for a few hours or overnight. Then cook in a grill pan or on a BBQ.
  4. Enjoy!


  • Recipe time does not include time to marinade, this will vary according to how long you leave it or how quickly you need it.
  • The paste can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. It will last a few days longer without the yoghurt.
  • To store it longer term, you can make up a dry mix, using garlic powder, salt and sugar (instead of the wet/fresh ingredients) as well as the other dry spices (see ingredient list above) and then just add some tomato puree, oil and yoghurt when you are making the marinade.
  • A dry mix kept in a dry glass jar or airtight container in a cool dark cupboard will last for months.
  • For a red tikka paste, skip the yoghurt, add a little extra paprika and chilli powder and some extra oil.
  • You can freeze the paste in portions and defrost in the fridge the night before you need it.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

3.71 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

2.67 g

Carbs (grams)

6.19 g

Fiber (grams)

0.65 g

Net carbs

5.56 g

Sugar (grams)

4.09 g

Protein (grams)

1.62 g

Sodium (milligrams)

79.36 mg

Cholesterol (grams)

4.33 mg
curry paste, tandoori paste, tikka paste, tikka masala paste, tikka marinade, tandoori marinade, tandoori sauce, curry sauce


  1. I love the look of that tandoori oven! Wish I had one too :) Saving your recipe as it's hard to find the tandoori paste where I live.

    1. Feel free to spice it up more if you like things spicy Julia :)

  2. My mouth is watering! I love tandoori - so much flavor. I want that whole container of tofu now!

  3. I love tandoori - this is such a handy sauce to have one hand - thanks so much!!

    1. Yes it can be used with a lot of different things. I am thinking a mushroom curry with it next.

  4. I absolutely need to make this Tandoori paste. I always have the ingredients on hand, so win win! Thanks for sharing such a great recipe!

  5. We love making our own tandoori paste. It's so much cheaper than buying it isn't it.

  6. Didn't have a paste in the cupboard but had all the ingredients for this fantastic recipe will never buy a paste again

  7. I 'm trying this recipe right now. Sounds yummi!


I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x