Chicken tikka masala
Chicken tikka masala
CourseMain course
Place of originIndian subcontinent
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsChicken, yogurt, cream, tomato, onion, garlic, ginger, chili pepper
VariationsLamb, fish or paneer tikka masala
Chicken tikka masala, served atop rice
Chicken tikka masala, served atop rice
Chicken tikka masala in India, 2012
Chicken tikka masala in India, 2012

Chicken tikka masala is a dish consisting of roasted marinated chicken chunks (chicken tikka) in spiced curry sauce. The curry is usually creamy and orange-coloured. The dish, though popular throughout the western world, was originated in India and has a long culinary history behind it. [1]


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 curry sauce.[2][3] 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.[4][5] 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.

The dish shares some similarity with butter chicken, both in the method of creation and appearance. The main difference is that chicken tikka masala uses a tomato gravy rather than a non-gravy sauce.[6]


The origin of the dish is certainly rooted in India, but many British sources attribute it to the South Asian community in Great Britain.[3]

Chef Zaeemuddin Ahmad of the iconic Karim’s restaurant in Delhi claims that chicken tikka masala is originally Mughal in origin. Karim’s was established by the chef of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. Chef Ahmad asserts that the recipe dates back to the Mughal period and was passed down through the generations in his family. [7]

Many Indian cuisine restaurant like the Shish Mahal in Glasgow claims to be the inventor of the dish, however, their claim to fame doesn't go beyond a story. These claims although have helped such restaurants get a lot of media attention and thereby generate sales in a competitive market. [8]

Rahul Verma, a food critic who writes for The Hindu,[9] said he first tasted the dish in 1971 and that its origins were in Punjab, India. He said, "It's basically a Punjabi dish not more than 40–50 years old and must be an accidental discovery which has had periodical improvisations."[10][11]


Chicken tikka masala is served in restaurants around the world,[12][13] including Indian restaurants in the United Kingdom and North America. 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.[14]

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.[15][16][17][18][19]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Lloyd, J and Mitchinson, J. The Book of General Ignorance. Faber & Faber, 2006
  3. ^ a b Siciliano-Rosen, Laura; Rogers, Kara. "Chicken tikka masala". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Webb, Andrew (2011). Food Britannia. Random House. p. 177. ISBN 978-1847946232. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  6. ^ Irwin, Heather (September 2019). "A Butter Chicken Vs. Tikka Masala Showdown at Cumin in Santa Rosa". Sonoma Magazine. SMI Media. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Author profile: Rahul Verma". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "From Charles Mackintosh's waterproof to Dolly the sheep: 43 innovations Scotland has given the world". The Independent. 30 December 2016.
  12. ^ Kumar, Rakesh (24 February 2007). "Tastes that travel". The Hindu. Chennai, India: Kasturi & Sons Ltd. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  13. ^ Aravind Adiga (20 March 2006). "The Spice of Life". Time. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2007.
  14. ^ "Stir-fry now Britain's most popular foreign dish". Daily Mirror. 21 January 2012.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ Mannur, Anita (2009). Culinary Fictions: Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture. Temple University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-4399-0077-2.
  17. ^ Collingham, E. M. (2006). Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. Oxford; NY: Oxford University Press. p. 2. ISBN 0-19-517241-8.
  18. ^ Jo Monroe, Star of India: The Spicy Adventures of Curry (Wiley: 2005 ISBN 9780470091883) pp. 136-137.
  19. ^ Collingham, Elizabeth M. (2006). Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. Oxford University Press. pp. 2–12. ISBN 0-19-517241-8.

Further reading