News | 16 November 2022
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How to make Chicken Tikka from Chaiwalla

Behind the Stalls is back! This time round we have gone behind the scenes with some of the vibrant characters of Wellington waterfront’s Harbourside Market as they show us how to make their most popular products. In the first of six stories, we meet Rahul dev singh Minhas of Chaiwalla and learn how to make his famous 24-hour marinated Chicken Tikka.

Man smiling from a food truck.

When Rahul looks back on his life, he reflects on how he has spent it in two halves, one in Delhi and the other in New Zealand.

Something that has stuck with him through the years is his true love for food and cooking, Rahul says. 

“I’ve always worked in hospitality. When I moved to New Zealand, I studied cooking and baking. I was a young man who wanted to go out with friends, but I used to wake up at 2am to make pastries!” he laughs.

After a few years, he decided that he needed a break from cooking and took up work in a corporate job. 

Though he was uncertain about his new career path, life had bigger plans for him and he ended up meeting his future wife at work. 

They had twin boys, and this flung him back into the world of cooking.

“We started Chaiwalla six years ago because I wanted to be home and look after our boys. You’ve got to have a good work and life balance. Otherwise, what are you living for?” says Rahul.

“I started with a small trailer, and a small amount of money. I really struggled at the start but we did it. Starting a small business and believing in it takes a lot of courage.” 

Man chopping coriander

The concept for Chaiwalla came from Rahul’s roots and not seeing the same level of authenticity in the products in New Zealand.

“I’m a tea drinker and I love chai but I was getting disappointed at what I was getting in cafes. They didn’t taste like they should. There were no tea leaves. I wanted to make it more traditional.”

He began with making chai, and then started branching out with other products – all using recipes his family taught him growing up.

“When you’re not born in the country you live in, there’s nothing better than sharing what you’ve grown up with and feeling proud of what you make," says Rahul.

As a popular figure in the Harbourside market, people love going to Chaiwalla for their famous chai, but also for their delicious 24-hour marinated Chicken Tikka. Rahul even has a fan club at home.

“Our kids love our cooking. Their favourite is Chicken Tikka! You can give it to them any day of the week and they love it.”

How to make 24-hour marinated Chicken Tikka (Rahul’s way):

Chicken on a paper plate
Image from Chaiwalla.

Rahul wants to share his love of cooking with others, and has shared the key ingredients for his Chicken Tikka. It's a favourite at the Harbourside Market and has helped grow his business. He says that this recipe comes with a twist.

“I don’t work with measurements, I work with the weather and what I feel like. Cooking has to be from the heart. Make this dish in bulk and play around with the amount you put in every time you make it. Enjoy!”


  • Chicken breast (diced)
  • Minced ginger and garlic
  • Spices – Salt, ground chilli, tikka spices, cumin, coriander, fenugreek
  • Mustard oil (this is a key ingredient, don’t substitute it!)
  • Chickpea flour
  • Plain yoghurt
  • Lemon juice

1. Mix the minced ginger and garlic with the diced chicken

2. Once mixed, add all the spices – there is no wrong amount, the more, the better!

3. Pour in your mustard oil and then mix it all evenly

4. Add in some plain yoghurt until the chicken is coated

5. Add a sprinkle of chickpea flour

6. Pop in the fridge and let the chicken marinade for a few hours, then squeeze fresh lemon juice on top

7. Leave to marinate again until it’s been 24 hours, then grill the chicken! 

8. Enjoy! 

Find out more about Chaiwalla, or check them out at the Harbourside Market