Tikka (food)

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Paneer Tikka served in a restaurant in Mumbai, India.
CourseHors d'oeuvre
Region or stateIndian Subcontinent
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsMeat, paneer, marinade, yogurt, spices or curry
VariationsChicken Tikka Masala, Paneer Tikka Masala

Tikka (pronounced [ʈɪkkaː]) is a dish consisting of pieces of meat or vegetarian alternatives, with its origins tracing back to the Mughal dynasty. It is made by marinating the pieces in spices and yogurt, and cooking them in a tandoor. Tikka is popular throughout the Indian subcontinent and also in countries such as Great Britain. The preservation of paneer tikka can be enhanced by using vacuum packaging, whilst the physical and textural properties of chicken tikka can be improved by using a marinade of lemon juice and ginger extract.


Tikka is a Punjabi word which has been commonly combined with the Urdu word masala, with the combined word originating from UK English.[1] The word itself is a derivation of the Turkic word tikkü, which means "piece" or "chunk".[2][3]


The precise origin of the dish is uncertain. Recipes for cooked meat enriched with spices and mixed within a sauce date back to 1700 BCE found on cuneiform tablets near Babylon, credited to the Sumerians.[4] During the Mughal dynasty, the Mughals brought "boneless pieces of cooked meat" called Tikka to India.[5]

There are different varieties of the dish, both meat inclusive and vegetarian. Generally, the dish is defined as "an Indian dish of small pieces of meat or vegetables marinated in a spice mixture".[6]


Tikka consists of boneless pieces of meat or vegetarian alternatives such as paneer, which are marinated in spices and yogurt and subsequently strung through a skewer to be cooked.[2] It is generally cooked in a tandoor and served dry.[2]


Indian-subcontinent variations[edit]

The Indian variations of Tikka are the roots of the Western variations, including Chicken tikka and Paneer tikka, which are generally served dry. Variations such as Chicken tikka masala, popular in Britain, have also made their way into the menus of restaurants in the Indian subcontinent.

Cross-cultural variations[edit]

Regular chicken and paneer tikka have been combined with dishes from other cultures such as Mexican cuisine to create hybrid dishes such as Tikka Masala Burritos, which are served with either chicken or paneer as their main ingredient.[7]


In Britain[edit]

A study was undertaken in the 1990s that revealed British interest in foreign food, with chicken tikka being a favourite filling in the British Rail sandwich.[8]

In India[edit]

A study of 670 foreign tourists at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, attempted to show the street food preferences of foreign tourists in the city, along with the reason for their selection. Of the 17 most preferred street foods, chicken tikka was the most favoured, with tourists preferring mildly flavoured foods that are hygienically prepared.[9]

During the cricket World Cup in 2018, restaurants in the host city served dishes named after cricket players using cricket terminology.[10] For instance, paneer tikka was renamed Dhoni da Tikka after former Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and chicken tikka was renamed Virat's Straight Drive after Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli.[10]

Preservation and quality[edit]

Paneer tikka[edit]

Paneer tikka has a shelf-life of 1–2 days, which can be increased up to 28 days using modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) technology.[11] Vacuum packaging is most effective as it is able to limit chemical changes during storage, increasing the refrigerated shelf-life of paneer tikka to 40 days.[12]

Chicken tikka[edit]

The physico-chemical and textural properties of chicken tikka can be improved by using a combined marinade of lemon juice and ginger extract.[13] The marinade also lowers the fat and cholesterol content of chicken tikka.[13] Further, upon sensory evaluation, texture and juiciness are also improved via the use of the marinade.[13] A process called vacuum tumbling can also be used to improve such sensory attributes as appearance, colour, texture, juiciness and overall acceptability.[14]


  1. ^ Kiaer, Jieun (2018). Translingual words : an East Asian lexical encounter with English. Milton: Routledge. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-351-10946-8. OCLC 1076808280.
  2. ^ a b c Ayto, John. (2012). The diner's dictionary : word origins of food & drink. Ayto, John., Ayto, John. (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 371. ISBN 978-0-19-174443-3. OCLC 840919592.
  3. ^ Davidson, Alan, 1924-2003 (2014). The Oxford companion to food. Jaine, Tom,, Vannithone, Soun (3rd ed.). New York, NY. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7. OCLC 890807357.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ A postcolonial people : South Asians in Britain. Ali, N. (Nasreen), 1969–, Kalra, Virinder S., Sayyid, S. (Salman). London: Hurst & Co. 2006. p. 62. ISBN 1-85065-796-3. OCLC 70208358.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Indigenous culture, education and globalization : critical perspectives from Asia. Xing, Jun,, Ng, Pak-sheung. Heidelberg. 23 October 2015. p. 130. ISBN 978-3-662-48159-2. OCLC 926915075.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ Concise Oxford English dictionary. Stevenson, Angus., Waite, Maurice. (12th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2011. p. 1508. ISBN 978-0-19-960108-0. OCLC 692291307.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ Tanyeri, D (September 2018). "Fast-Casual Indian". Restaurant Development + Design. pp. 18–21.
  8. ^ James, A. (2013). Food, Health and Identity. Taylor & Francis. p. 71.
  9. ^ Gupta, Vikas; Khanna, Kavita; Gupta, Raj Kumar (1 January 2019). "Preferential analysis of street food amongst the foreign tourists: a case of Delhi region". International Journal of Tourism Cities. 6 (3): 511–528. doi:10.1108/IJTC-07-2018-0054. ISSN 2056-5607.
  10. ^ a b Tahseen, I. (11 May 2018). "Virat chicken tikka ya Afridi kebab?". The Times of India.
  11. ^ Sharma, M. (June 2016). "Shelf Life Enhancement of Paneer tikka by Modified Atmospheric Packaging". Journal of Pure and Applied Microbiology. 10 (2): 1415–1420.
  12. ^ Ahuja, Kunal K.; Goyal, G. K. (June 2013). "Combined effect of vacuum packaging and refrigerated storage on the chemical quality of paneer tikka". Journal of Food Science and Technology. 50 (3): 620–623. doi:10.1007/s13197-012-0688-x. ISSN 0022-1155. PMC 3602555. PMID 24425964.
  13. ^ a b c Kumar, Yogesh; Singh, Praneeta; Tanwar, Vinay Kumar; Ponnusamy, Prabhakaran; Singh, Pramod Kumar; Shukla, Prateek (13 July 2015). "Augmentation of quality attributes of chicken tikka prepared from spent hen meat with lemon juice and ginger extract marination". Nutrition & Food Science. 45 (4): 606–615. doi:10.1108/NFS-02-2015-0010. ISSN 0034-6659.
  14. ^ Bharti, S. K. (2012). "Effect of Vacuum Tumbling on Sensory and Microbial Quality of Chicken Tikka". Journal of Veterinary Public Health. 10 (2): 119–124.