turkey tikka and butternut squash masala curry

When I first started writing posts in this blog, nearly 15 years ago as I type this, my main aim was to log things I cooked so I didn’t have to go find them again. I’m making good on that promise right now!

We enjoyed watching Rosie Jones and Tom Rosenthal try and eat a massive naan, a challenge where you eat the whole thing for a trip to Barcelona, and that was it. We were having curry and naan the next night.

It turned out delicious and Mrs Spud asked “where did you get this recipe?” When I replied I made it up, she was distraught. She loved it and was concerned I’d never be able to make it again, like George and his Marvellous Medicine. So here it is before I forget:

turkey tikka and butternut squash masala

Gary @ BigSpud
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 people


  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 turkey breasts
  • 500 ml plain yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon tikka paste
  • 2 tbsp ajwar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 leek
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece ginger
  • 400 g tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tandoori powder
  • 2 tablespoons tahini


  • Marinate the turkey breasts for up to 24 hours, but even an hour will do. Combine the yoghurt with the tikka paste, ajwar, the juice of a lemon and add a large pinch of salt. Make 3 or 4 large slashes across the top of the turkey breast and submerge in the yoghurt. Refrigerate until needed.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C. Peel and dice the squash to about 2cm pieces. Coat with a dash of oil, add salt, cumin and coriander and tip into a metal baking tray. Roast for 40 minutes, turning occasionally.
  • Get a large pan over a medium-low heat. Add a tablespoon of oil. Dice the onion and add to the pan. Grate in the garlic and ginger and soften over the heat for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the tandoori powder and continue to stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and raise the heat to bring to a simmer.
  • While this simmers, get another pan or griddle pan over a high heat. When hot, remove the turkey from the marinade and wipe off the excess. Add a small amount of oil to the pan and add the turkey. Sear on both sides until just or nearly cooked (you will finish cooking it in the sauce so don't worry if it's slightly under). This will take 6 - 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the breasts. Try and get some charring on the meat. Leave to rest for 5 minutes while you finish the sauce.
  • Transfer the tomato base to a blender and add the tahini (you can do this with a stick blender or leave it chunky if you prefer). Whizz until smooth then return to the pan over a low heat. Dice the turkey and add to the pan, along with the roast squash and cook together until it's all harmonious and the turkey is cooked through completely. Serve with the largest naan you can find.


This recipe calls for ajwar, a staple in Eastern European larders and a definite odd ingredient in this list. It's made from aubergines, peppers and other summer veg mashed into a paste to preserve over the winter. Check Polish supermarkets, Turkish delis and often Lidl / Aldi stock it in jars. If you can't find this it can be left out. 

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