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Saffron Tikka & the Easiest, Fastest Marinade Ever

  • Author: Alex Kirkwood



Saffron Tikka

  • 1 1/2 lbs of chicken cut into chunks for skewering
  • 1 papaya (you will use 2 tbs of papaya mashed into a paste)
  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 8 green cardamom pods powdered
  • 3 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp  salt
  • A little melted butter or ghee to baste

For the Garnish

  • Leftover marinade (the marinade you did NOT soak the chicken in)
  • 2  Tbs ground almonds
  • 2 Tbs ground walnuts
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro


For the Marinade

  1. Assemble your ingredients.
  2. Blend everything together well.
  3.  Any saffron you get at the market should be dry toasted in a pan for just a few minutes before crumbling into the marinade. I get around this by using powdered saffron I got turned onto by my Friend Judy at Divina Cucina. This stuff is great and I am now using it almost any time saffron is called for. Zafferano Meneghino can be ordered online from Amazon. It’s extremely easy to use and tastes great.
  4. When the marinade is blended, set aside a small amount to be used in the garnish. Never use the marinade after the chicken’s been soaking in it. You wouldn’t drink your bath water, would you? Set the chicken pieces into the marinade, cover and refrigerate for about 6 hours. Don’t forget to save some marinade for the garnish.

For the Garnish

Make this just before you cook the Tikkas so it’s warm and waiting to be served.

  1. Scoop the leftover marinade into a pan.
  2. Add in the ground almonds, walnuts and the chopped cilantro.
  3. Heat the mixture on a low flame and stir until it thickens.
  4. Place it in a bowl and set it aside, now we’re ready to cook.

For the Saffron Tikka

  1. Wash and oil your skewers.
  2. Thread the chunks of chicken onto the skewers. I find a thick slice of potato makes an excellent spacer and stopper so nothing falls off the skewers into the flames.
  3. Place the skewers on a tray and set them aside while you light the tandoor.
  4. When the tandoor has reached about 480 to 500 degrees put the skewers into the fire. Arrange them next to each other so they cook evenly.
  5. Partially cover the tandoor to hold the heat, checking them occasionally and rotating the skewers as needed. Cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Take the skewers out and stand them upright against the tandoor so the drippings don’t fall into the oven.
  7. Baste them with some of the melted ghee or butter, then put them back into the tandoor for another 5 minutes.
  8. Take them out, they’re done!


This chicken dish can be grilled on a BBQ, or even in your oven at home, but a tandoor sure makes it fun!

I served this Tikka upon rice with saffron and golden raisins, almonds and cinnamon.

The garnish was served alongside to be brushed on the chicken before eating. The chicken was tender and flavorful and the garnish added more of the marinade flavor which made the short marinade time work great! Serve this with any western green vegetable dish on the side or go all Indian and try this spinach dish.