Tikka (food)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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

Tikka (pronounced [ʈɪkkaː]) is a dish consisting of pieces of meat or vegetarian alternatives such as paneer with its origins tracing back to the Mughal dynasty.[1][2] It is made by marinating the pieces in Spices and yoghurt and cooking them in a tandoor.[3] There are many variations with the most popular being Chicken tikka masala which was allegedly created by Ali Atif Aslam in Glasgow.[3] Tikka is popular in countries such as Great Britain and also throughout the Indian subcontinent. The preservation of paneer tikka can be enhanced from 1–2 days to 40 days by using vacuum packaging,[4] whilst the physico and textural properties of chicken tikka can be improved by using a marinade of lemon juice and ginger extract.[5] Many food houses have been accused of adding illegal levels of food colourings to their chicken tikka masalas.[6] The dish has also been the focus of attempts to gain legal recognition as the "Glasgow Tikka Masala".[7] Chicken tikka masala has also been the main dish in programmes aimed at reducing food waste in companies.[8]


Tikka is a Punjabi word which has been commonly combined with the Urdu word masala, with the combined word originating from UK English.[9] The word itself is a derivation of the Turkic word tikkü, which means "piece" or "chunk".[3][10]


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.[11] During the Mughal dynasty, the Mughals brought "boneless pieces of cooked meat"[1] called Tikka to India.

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".[2] Chicken tikka masala is the most common Western variation, allegedly originating in the mid-1970s by Ali Asif Aslam in Glasgow, who added a sauce to dry Chicken Tikka.[3] By the 1980s, it began to be stocked as a ready-meal in Supermarkets.[3] Paneer tikka masala, a vegetarian variation that is also unknown in origin, has been classified as the vegetarian version of chicken tikka masala,[12] having the same sauce and also originating from Mughal times.[13]


Tikka consists of boneless pieces of meat or vegetarian alternatives such as paneer, which are marinated in Spices and yoghurt and subsequently strung through a skewer to be cooked.[3] It is generally cooked in a tandoor and served dry,[3] whilst variations such as chicken tikka masala are served with additional Sauces such as spiced tomato cream sauce.[1]


Commonly used ingredients for variations such as chicken tikka masala and Paneer tikka masala include meat or paneer, yoghurt, coriander, onion, tomato, red chilli, green chilli, paprika, garam masala, cream, cheese, ginger, garlic, cornflour, mace, cardamom powder, chilli powder, cumin powder, ajwain, black pepper, green pepper and tumeric.[14][15][16]

Example method[edit]

MacDonald (2009) outlines a sample method as follows:

Blitz the chili, garlic, ginger and vegetable oil in a food processor. Add the paprika, garam masala and tomato purée, plus the coriander stalks, and blend again to form a paste. Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl, coat them with the marinade and place in a fridge. Meanwhile heat a little vegetable oil, on a medium heat, in a pan and fry the onion, peppers and Spices. Cook gently for 10 minutes before adding the fresh vine tomatoes and Greek yoghurt. Add the chicken pieces and simmer gently until cooked. Just before serving, stir through the double cream and chopped coriander leaves.


Western variations[edit]

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala[edit]

The British version of tikka that has been popularised is chicken tikka masala, which is alleged to have been created by Ali Atif Aslam in Glasgow, when he added a Campbell's tomato soup based sauce to dry chicken tikka.[3]

Paneer Tikka Masala

Paneer Tikka Masala[edit]

Paneer tikka masala is also the British variation of paneer tikka, with the main difference between paneer tikka masala and chicken tikka masala being the use of paneer as opposed to meat.[12]

Other Variations[edit]

Other variations include sweet potato and Chick Pea Tikka Masala, Butternut squash Tikka Masala, Cauliflower and Chick Pea Tikka Masala, Shrimp/Prawn Tikka Masala and Lamb Tikka, all which can be made with the same sauce as chicken tikka masala, except with a change in the main meat or vegetable ingredient.[17][18] Wild Irish rabbit tikka is also a variation that has been concocted.[19] More generally, the differing variations of tikka masala have common base Ingredients such as yoghurt, Spices and Tomatoes, with the remaining Ingredients left to the chef's discretion, depending on the South Asian geographical origin of the restaurant.[11] The Real Curry Restaurant Guide survey in 1998 found chicken to be the only common ingredient amongst 48 different Recipes of Chicken tikka masala, with both appearance and taste varying from one restaurant to another.[20]

Indian-subcontinent Variations[edit]

The Indian variations of Tikka are the roots of the Western variations, including simpler dishes such as Chicken tikka and Paneer tikka which are generally served dry. Following the introduction of variations such as Chicken tikka masala in foreign countries such as Britain, these variations 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 Burrito’s, which are served with either chicken or paneer as their main ingredient.[21]


A study conducted of 112 Consumers at 8 Restaurants within Hyderabad showed that the most preferred main ingredient was mutton, followed by chicken at 43.14%. Fish ranked near the bottom with 6.86%. Further, 31% of Consumers preferred dishes cooked in a tandoor with 10% preferring tikka/kebab type of dishes.[22]


General popularity[edit]

During the 1990s, Chicken tikka masala came to top the poll as Britain's favourite "curry".[3] In 2001, Robin Cook, a Labour politician, attempted to persuade the nation that Chicken tikka masala had become the UK's national dish in his election speech,[3] expressing that Chicken tikka masala is "a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adopts external influences".[23]

In the UK alone, Chicken tikka masala constitutes 16% of all curries sold, representing the most popular dish sold in Indian Restaurants.[10]

In supermarkets[edit]

Since the 1980s, Chicken tikka masala has been introduced as a ready-made meal in Supermarkets,[3] with companies such as Birds Eye creating and selling their own versions.[24]

In Glasgow[edit]

Glasgow is the home of the Chicken tikka masala and a spokesman for the Glasgow council expressed the long history of curry in Glasgow which provided the breeding ground for the origin of Chicken tikka masala to be part of that legend.[16]

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, and also one of the bestselling dishes in the pre-cooked range of Tesco.[25]

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 by foreign tourists, Chicken tikka was the most favoured, with tourists preferring mildly flavoured Foods that are hygienically prepared.[26]

During the cricket World Cup in 2018, Restaurants in the host city served dishes named after current cricket players using cricket terminology.[27] 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 current Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli.[27]

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.[28] Vacuum packaging named LLDPE/BA/Nylon-6/LDPE is most effective as it is able to limit Chemical changes during storage, increasing the refrigerated shelf-life of Paneer tikka to 40 days.[4]

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.[5] The marinade also lowers the fat and cholesterol content of chicken tikka.[5] Further, upon sensory evaluation, texture and juiciness are also improved via the use of the marinade.[5] A process called vacuum tumbling can also be used to improve such sensory attributes as appearance, colour, texture, juiciness and overall acceptability.[29]


Chicken tikka masala can range in colours from green to vermilion, with a survey by Surrey County Council from south-east Britain finding that 57% of UK Indian Restaurants used in excess of the legally allowed limit of food colouring in their chicken tikka masalas.[20] A different survey found that close to 50% of England curry houses were using twice the legal amount of food colouring to improve the visual appeal of their chicken tikka masalas.[6] A national survey conducted by public analyst Eurofins surveyed Indian restaurants in the country and discovered that 46% of popular dishes including chicken tikka masala had over the legal allowed limit of red food colouring, which is 500 mg per kg.[6] Restaurant that failed to comply with the food colouring rules could face fines of up to 5000 pounds.[6]

It has also been contested that the popularity of the UK-created chicken tikka masala was formed in below-optimal contextual conditions, with the dish arising from the extended opening hours of Indian Restaurants, serving the drunk as they left the pubs and being abused as they provided the service, at prices that were easily affordable by the average worker.[23]


The origins of chicken tikka masala are up for contention, with other cities such as Birmingham and London claiming to be the true originators of the dish.[16] Sultan Ahmed Ansari's family, another restaurateur from Glasgow, claimed he was the true creator whilst others claim New Delhi to be the place of origin during the 1940s.[16]


A campaign – supported by Glasgow Labour MP Mohammed Sarwar and the city council – was initiated to recognise Glasgow as the legal origin of Chicken tikka masala.[16] The legal recognition would require restaurants that sold the dish to acknowledge and refer to Glasgow as the originating city for the dish.[16] The dish itself would be renamed the "Glasgow Tikka Masala".[7] The MP for Glasgow Central, Mohammed Sarwar, had the capacity to "table a motion in the House of Commons calling for chicken tikka masala to have the same legal protection as other regionally designated foods such as Arbroath smokies and Melton Mowbray pork pies.[16] Foodstuffs from a specific geographical area that are produced, processed and prepared using recognised methods could by protected by food producers by application to the European Union for Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).[16] The Arbroath smokie, Cornish clotted cream and Welsh lamb represent British dishes that have received such protection in the past.[16]

Food Waste[edit]

Chicken tikka masala was used as the ready-made dish of choice for a study to determine the amount of food waste produced by a company along with subsequent methods to reduce the waste.[8] Of the approximately 12,000 chicken tikka masala ready meals produced by a company, around 1,400 kg of production waste was produced per week.[8] An electronic food waste tracking system was implemented to more efficiently track the amount of food waste being produced as the previous method of using humans was slow and produced inaccurate results.[8] The new method allowed the company to take prompt actions in response to inefficient waste practices.[8] After the implementation of the food waste tracking system, the food waste for the chicken tikka masala line was reduced by 60.7% from 6,190 kg in January 2017 to 2,428 kg in September 2017.[8] The company managed to save approximately £306,873 on food waste from the previous year.[8]


  1. ^ a b c 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.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ a b 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.CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k 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.
  4. ^ a b 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.
  5. ^ a b c d 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.
  6. ^ a b c d "Too many curry fans seeing red". Caterer & Hotelkeeper. 18 July 2002. |first= missing |last= (help)
  7. ^ a b Majumdar, S (29 May 2010). "Travel: Food: Insider's guide to the best of British grub: Hotpot, jellied eels and, yes, chicken tikka masala – food writer Simon Majumdar spent a year seeking out our culinary treasures. He reveals where to find the best". The Guardian. p. 8.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Jagtap, S.; Rahimifard, S. (March 2019). "The digitisation of food manufacturing to reduce waste – Case study of a ready meal factory". Waste Management. 87: 387–397. doi:10.1016/j.wasman.2019.02.017. ISSN 0956-053X. PMID 31109539.
  9. ^ Kiaer, Jieun (2018). Translingual words : an East Asian lexical encounter with English. Milton: Routledge. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-351-10946-8. OCLC 1076808280.
  10. ^ a b 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.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ a b 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.CS1 maint: others (link)
  12. ^ a b Angarkar, S (2019). The vision palate. power publisher. p. 23. ISBN 9789384337056.
  13. ^ Aggarwal, Uma. (2009). The exquisite world of Indian cuisine. New Delhi: Allied Publishers. p. 54. ISBN 978-81-8424-474-8. OCLC 468726323.
  14. ^ Banerjee, Satarupa. (2004). 101 ways to prepare kababs. Delhi: Pustak Mahal. ISBN 81-223-0697-7. OCLC 862550890.
  15. ^ Conley, Rosemary, 1946- (18 October 2011). 100 great low-fat recipes. London. ISBN 978-1-4464-5960-7. OCLC 936378354.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i MacDonald, S (5 July 2009). "Glasgow stages tikka takeover; Food City seeks legal rights over curry dish, writes Stuart MacDonald". Sunday Times.
  17. ^ Crocker, Betty (18 September 2018). Betty Crocker learn with Betty : techniques and recipes to become a confident cook. Betty Crocker Kitchens. Boston. p. 113. ISBN 978-1-328-50383-1. OCLC 1019838701.
  18. ^ King, Si. (2013). The Hairy Bikers' great curries. Myers, Dave, 1967-. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-86733-3. OCLC 796276868.
  19. ^ "Food Special: Here's to an Indian summer". Sunday Business Post. 3 June 2012. |first= missing |last= (help)
  20. ^ a b Monroe, Jo. (2005) [2004]. Star of India : the spicy adventures of curry. Chichester, England: Wiley. p. 137. ISBN 0-470-09188-6. OCLC 63546755.
  21. ^ Tanyeri, D (September 2018). "Fast-Casual Indian". Restaurant Development + Design. pp. 18–21.
  22. ^ Sen, A. R. (2014). "Consumption Pattern and Quality Characteristics of Tandoor/Tikka Type of Chicken Meat Product". Journal of Meat Science. 9 (1): 6–10.
  23. ^ a b Sardar, Z. (2012). Balti Britain: A Provocative Journey Through Asian Britain. Granta Publications. ISBN 9781847086846.
  24. ^ "Birds Eye announces two new products; Chicken Balti and Chicken Tikka Masala: leading UK food brand Birds Eye breaks new ground for ready meal curries this month with the launch of a delicately spiced 'Chicken Balti' and a rich and creamy 'Chicken Tikka Masala'". Sherwin Publications Ltd. January–February 2014. |first= missing |last= (help)
  25. ^ James, A. (2013). Food, Health and Identity. Taylor & Francis. p. 71.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ a b Tahseen, I. (11 May 2018). "Virat chicken tikka ya Afridi kebab?". The Times of India.
  28. ^ Sharma, M. (June 2016). "Shelf Life Enhancement of Paneer tikka by Modified Atmospheric Packaging". Journal of Pure and Applied Microbiology. 10 (2): 1415–1420.
  29. ^ 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.