Chicken tikka masala
Chicken tikka masala
CourseMain course
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsChicken, yogurt, cream, tomato, onion, garlic, ginger, chili pepper
VariationsLamb, fish or paneer tikka masala

Chicken tikka masala is a dish consisting of roasted marinated chicken chunks (chicken tikka) in a spiced sauce. The sauce is usually creamy and orange-coloured. The dish was popularised by cooks from India living in Great Britain and is offered at restaurants around the world.


Chicken tikka masala is composed of chicken tikka, boneless chunks of chicken marinated in spices and yogurt that are roasted in an oven, served in a creamy sauce.[1][2] A tomato and coriander sauce is common, but no recipe for chicken tikka masala is standard; a survey found that of 48 different recipes, the only common ingredient was chicken.[3][4] The sauce usually includes tomatoes (frequently as purée), cream, coconut cream and a masala spice mix. The sauce and chicken pieces may be coloured orange using foodstuffs such as turmeric, paprika, tomato purée or with food dye.

Chicken tikka masala is similar to butter chicken, both in the method of creation and appearance.[5]


The origin of the dish is not certain, but many sources attribute it to the South Asian community in Great Britain; some sources also cite Glasgow as the city of origin.[2][6][7][8]

Chicken tikka masala may derive from butter chicken, a popular dish in the northern Indian subcontinent. The Multicultural Handbook of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics credits its creation to Bangladeshi migrant chefs in Britain in the 1960s. They developed and served a number of new inauthentic "Indian" dishes, including chicken tikka masala.[9]

Historians of ethnic food Peter and Colleen Grove discuss multiple claims regarding the origin of chicken tikka masala, concluding that the dish "was most certainly invented in Britain, probably by a Bangladeshi chef."[10] They suggest that "the shape of things to come may have been a recipe for Shahi Chicken Masala in Mrs Balbir Singh’s Indian Cookery published in 1961."[10]

Another explanation claims that it originated in a restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland.[11][1] This version recounts how a British Pakistani chef, Ali Ahmed Aslam, proprietor of a restaurant in Glasgow, invented chicken tikka masala by improvising a sauce made from a tin of condensed tomato soup, and spices.[12][13][7] Peter Grove challenged any claim that Aslam was the creator of the dish as it had already existed for several years before.[14]

Chef Anita Jaisinghani, a correspondent in the Houston Chronicle, wrote that "the most likely story is that the modern version was created during the early ’70s by an enterprising Indian chef near London" who used Campbell's tomato soup.[15] However, restaurant owner Iqbal Wahhab claims that he and Peter Grove fabricated the story of a chef using tomato soup to create chicken tikka masala in order "to entertain journalists".[16][17][18]

Rahul Verma, a food critic who writes for The Hindu,[19] claimed that the dish has its origins in the Punjab region.[20][11]


Chicken tikka masala is served in restaurants around the world.[21][22]

According to a 2012 survey of 2,000 people in Britain, it was the country's second-most popular foreign dish to cook, after Chinese stir fry.[23]

In 2001, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook mentioned the dish in a speech acclaiming the benefits of Britain's multiculturalism, declaring:

Chicken tikka masala is now a true British national dish, not only because it is the most popular, but because it is a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adapts external influences. Chicken tikka is an Indian dish. The masala sauce was added to satisfy the desire of British people to have their meat served in gravy.[24][25][16][26]

See also


  1. ^ a b Lloyd, J and Mitchinson, J. The Book of General Ignorance. Faber & Faber, 2006
  2. ^ a b Siciliano-Rosen, Laura; Rogers, Kara. "Chicken tikka masala". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  3. ^ Jackson, Peter (2010). A Cultural Politics of Curry in "Hybrid Cultures, Nervous States: Britain and Germany in a (post)colonial World". Amsterdam: Rodopi BV. p. 172. ISBN 9789042032286. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  4. ^ Webb, Andrew (2011). Food Britannia. Random House. p. 177. ISBN 978-1847946232. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  5. ^ Irwin, Heather (September 2019). "A Butter Chicken Vs. Tikka Masala Showdown at Cumin in Santa Rosa". Sonoma Magazine. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  6. ^ Dutt, Vijay (21 October 2007). "60 years of Chicken Tikka Masala". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  7. ^ a b Ghosh, Bobby (19 January 2023). "How I Learned to Stop Hating and Respect Chicken Tikka Masala". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 26 February 2023.
  8. ^ Taylor, Emma. "Most people have no clue chicken tikka masala isn't an Indian dish, according to a top Indian chef". Insider. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  9. ^ Thaker, Aruna; Barton, Arlene (2012). Multicultural Handbook of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics. John Wiley & Sons. p. 74. ISBN 9781405173582.
  10. ^ a b Grove, Peter; Grove, Colleen (2008). "Is It or Isn't It? (The Chicken Tikka Masala Story)". Menu Magazine. Grove Publications. Archived from the original on 27 November 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  11. ^ a b "From Charles Mackintosh's waterproof to Dolly the sheep: 43 innovations Scotland has given the world". The Independent. 30 December 2016.
  12. ^ "Glasgow 'invented' Tikka Masala". BBC News. BBC. 21 July 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2017. Mr Sarwar claimed the dish owed its origins to the culinary skills of Ali Ahmed Aslam, proprietor of the Shish Mahal restaurant in Park Road in the west end of the city. He is said to have prepared a sauce using spices soaked in a tin of condensed tomato soup after a customer said his meal was too dry.
  13. ^ Godeau, Lucie (2 August 2009). "Chicken tikka masala claims its origins in Scotland". Sydney Morning Herald. Agence France Presse. Retrieved 19 May 2017. "Chicken tikka masala was invented in this restaurant, we used to make chicken tikka, and one day a customer said, 'I'd take some sauce with that, this is a bit dry'," said Ahmed Aslam Ali, 64, founder of Shish Mahal. "We thought we'd better cook the chicken with some sauce. So from here we cooked chicken tikka with the sauce that contains yogurt, cream, spices.
  14. ^ Hay, Mark (5 May 2014). "Who Owns Chicken Tikka Masala?". Roads & Kingdoms. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  15. ^ "How to make Pondicheri's butter chicken at home". Houston Chronicle. 1 February 2021. Retrieved 15 March 2021. - See at Pressreader
  16. ^ a b Monroe, Jo (September 2005). Star of India: The Spicy Adventures of Curry. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 135–137. ISBN 978-0-470-09188-3. Retrieved 29 November 2021. An enterprising chef then looked around for something to make a sauce from and found a tin of Campbell's condensed tomato soup. Hey presto! A legend had been born. The problem with this story is that — despite its status as a curry legend — it is completely invented. Cinnamon Club founder Iqbal Wahhab to have originated the story to entertain journalists in the days when he handled the marketing for several restaurants. 'That thing about the Campbell's soup was completely made up,' he confessed
  17. ^ "Curry myths". Iqbal Wahhab. 5 December 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  18. ^ Gallacher, Stevie (9 June 2019). "Chicken Faker Masala: Restaurant boss admits inventing Scottish claim to famous dish". The Sunday Post. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  19. ^ "Author profile: Rahul Verma". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  20. ^ Nelson, Dean; Andrabi, Jalees (4 August 2009). "Chicken tikka masala debate grows as Indian chefs reprimand Scottish MPs over culinary origins". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 28 April 2010. Rahul Verma, Delhi's most authoritative expert on street food, said he first tasted the dish in 1971 and that its origins were in Punjab."Its basically a Punjabi dish not more than 40-50 years old and must be an accidental discovery which has had periodical improvisations"
  21. ^ Kumar, Rakesh (24 February 2007). "Tastes that travel". The Hindu. Chennai, India: Kasturi & Sons Ltd. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  22. ^ Aravind Adiga (20 March 2006). "The Spice of Life". Time. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2007.
  23. ^ "Stir-fry now Britain's most popular foreign dish". Daily Mirror. 21 January 2012.
  24. ^ "Robin Cook's chicken tikka masala speech: Extracts from a speech by the foreign secretary to the Social Market Foundation in London". The Guardian. 19 April 2001.
  25. ^ Mannur, Anita (2009). Culinary Fictions: Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture. Temple University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-4399-0077-2.
  26. ^ Collingham, Elizabeth M. (2006). Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. Oxford University Press. pp. 2–12. ISBN 0-19-517241-8.

Further reading