Chicken tikka masala

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Chicken tikka masala
Chicken tikka masala.jpg
Chicken tikka masala
Type Main course
Place of origin Disputed - India or United Kingdom[1]
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredient(s) Chicken, yogurt, cream, tomato, onion, garlic, ginger, chili pepper, coconut
Variations Lamb, Fish or Paneer Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala is a dish of roasted chunks (tikka) of chicken in a spicy sauce. The sauce is usually creamy, spiced and orange-coloured. The origin of the dish is unclear.


Chicken tikka masala is chicken tikka, chunks of chicken marinated in spices and yogurt, that is then baked in a tandoor oven, and served in a masala (spice mix) sauce.[2] A tomato and coriander sauce is common, but there is no standard recipe for chicken tikka masala; a survey found that of 48 different recipes, the only common ingredient was chicken[citation needed]. The sauce usually includes tomatoes, frequently as puree; cream and/or coconut cream; and various spices. The sauce or chicken pieces (or both) are coloured orange with food dyes or using foodstuffs such as turmeric powder, paprika powder or tomato purée.[3] Other tikka masala dishes replace chicken with lamb, fish or paneer.


One explanation of the origins of the dish is that it was conceived in an Indian restaurant in the United Kingdom.[4][2] Rahul Verma, an Indian expert on street food from Delhi, has stated that the dish originated, probably by accident with subsequent improvisations, in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh during the last 50 years.[1]

There are also claims that a Pakistani chef Ali Ahmed Aslam, proprietor of the Shish Mahal restaurant in Gibson Street in the west end of Glasgow invented it by improvising a sauce made from yogurt, cream and spices.[5][6] In July 2009 Pakistani-born British MP Mohammad Sarwar tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons asking that Parliament support a campaign for Glasgow to be given European Union protected geographical status for chicken tikka masala.[7] The motion was not chosen for debate nor did Sarwar speak on this subject in Parliament.[8][9] Others lay claim to the origin being Birmingham and Newcastle. Some people have drawn comparisons between chicken tikka masala and butter chicken, another Indian dish including chicken and gravy which was probably invented in Northern India.

Ethnic food historians and authors Peter & Colleen Grove also discuss various origin claims of chicken tikka masala in their article "Is It or Isn't It? (The Chicken Tikka Masala Story)", in which one of their conclusions suggests 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."


In 2001, British foreign secretary Robin Cook declared that "Chicken Tikka Massala 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." He went on to explain that "Chicken Tikka is an Indian dish. The Massala sauce was added to satisfy the desire of British people to have their meat served in gravy." [10][11] [12]

Chicken tikka masala is served in restaurants around the world.[13][14] It is widely served in India. Some restaurants in Pakistan and Bangladesh offer chicken tikka masala. A survey in the United Kingdom claimed that it is that country's second most popular foreign dish to cook, after Chinese Stir Fry.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Nelson, Dean; Andrabi, Jalees (2009-08-04). "Telegraph Online: Chicken tikka masala debate grows as Indian chefs reprimand Scottish MPs over culinary origins". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  2. ^ a b Lloyd, J and Mitchinson, J. The Book of General Ignorance. Faber & Faber, 2006.
  3. ^ Chicken tikka masala with paprika, retrieved 2009-11-05 
  4. ^ Gillan, Audrey (2002-06-21). "From Bangladesh to Brick Lane". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2002-07-21. 
  5. ^ "BBC News Online: Glasgow 'invented' Tikka Masala". London. 2009-07-21. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  6. ^ Agencies (6 August 2009). "Scots lay claim to chicken tikka masala, Indians fume". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 September 2009. 
  7. ^ "UK Parliament Early Day Motions 2008-2009". Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  8. ^ "UK Parliament Archives 2008-9". Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  9. ^ "UK Parliament Archives 2009-10". Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  10. ^ Robin Cook's chicken tikka masala speech: Extracts from a speech by the foreign secretary to the Social Market Foundation in London (April 19, 2001). Guardian.
  11. ^ Anita Mannur, Culinary Fictions: Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture (2009). Temple University Press: p. 3.
  12. ^ E. M. Collingham, Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors (Oxford; NY: Oxford University Press, 2006), 2
  13. ^ "The Hindu: Tastes that travel". Chennai, India. 2007-02-24. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  14. ^ Aravind Adiga (20 March 2006). "The Spice of Life". Time. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  15. ^ "Stir-fry now Britain's most popular foreign dish". The Mirror. 21 Jan 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Curry Club Tandoori and Tikka Dishes, Piatkus, London — ISBN 0-7499-1283-9 (1993)
  • Curry Club 100 Favourite Tandoori Recipes, Piatkus, London — ISBN 07499149 & ISBN 0-7499-1741-5 (1995)
  • India: Food & Cooking, New Holland, London — ISBN 978-1-84537-619-2 (2007)
  • Collingham, Elizabeth M (2006). Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. Oxford University Press. pp. 2–3. ISBN 0-19-517241-8. 

External links[edit]