Recipes Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala: A Culinary Journey Through India’s Beloved Dish

Chicken Tikka Masala, a tantalizing blend of succulent chicken, aromatic spices, and a velvety tomato-based sauce, has captivated taste buds worldwide. Originating from the vibrant culinary tapestry of India, this dish has transcended borders to become a beloved staple in kitchens and restaurants across the globe.

The Genesis of a Culinary Masterpiece

The exact origins of Chicken Tikka Masala are shrouded in culinary folklore. Some culinary historians trace its roots to the Punjabi city of Jalandhar, where it is said to have been created by a resourceful chef named Kundan Lal Gujral in the 1950s. Gujral, seeking to cater to the preferences of British patrons, is believed to have improvised a dish by marinating chicken in yogurt and spices, grilling it on skewers (tikkas), and simmering it in a creamy tomato sauce.

A Symphony of Flavors

The allure of Chicken Tikka Masala lies in its harmonious blend of flavors. The marinade, a symphony of aromatic spices, infuses the chicken with a tantalizing depth. The yogurt tenderizes the meat, while the spices, including ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, and turmeric, impart a vibrant warmth.

The tomato-based sauce, a culinary canvas in its own right, adds a rich and tangy dimension. Onions, garlic, and ginger form the aromatic base, while tomatoes, blended into a velvety puree, provide a vibrant hue and a tangy sweetness. The sauce is further enriched with cream or yogurt, lending it a luscious texture and a subtle hint of acidity.

Variations and Adaptations

Over the years, Chicken Tikka Masala has undergone countless variations and adaptations, reflecting the diverse culinary landscapes it has encountered. In India, the dish is often prepared with a fiery red sauce, while in the United Kingdom, it has become synonymous with a creamy orange sauce.

Regional variations also abound. In North India, the sauce may be thickened with cashew nuts or almonds, while in South India, coconut milk is sometimes incorporated. The level of spiciness can vary significantly, catering to different palates.

The Perfect Accompaniments

Chicken Tikka Masala is a versatile dish that pairs well with a variety of accompaniments. Basmati rice, with its fluffy texture and delicate flavor, is a classic choice. Naan bread, a soft and chewy flatbread, provides a perfect vessel for scooping up the flavorful sauce.

Other popular accompaniments include raita, a refreshing yogurt-based condiment, and papadum, crispy lentil crackers. A side of fresh vegetables, such as cucumber or onion, adds a crisp and refreshing contrast.

A Culinary Legacy

Chicken Tikka Masala has transcended its humble origins to become a global culinary icon. It has graced the menus of countless restaurants, from modest curry houses to Michelin-starred establishments. Its popularity has spawned countless variations and interpretations, a testament to its enduring appeal.

The dish has also played a significant role in fostering cultural exchange. It has introduced Indian cuisine to a wider audience, breaking down culinary barriers and promoting understanding between different cultures.

A Recipe for Culinary Delight

To embark on your own culinary journey with Chicken Tikka Masala, here is a detailed recipe:


For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 500g), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 large tomatoes, blended into a puree
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or yogurt
  • Salt to taste


  1. Prepare the Chicken Marinade: In a large bowl, combine the chicken cubes, yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, cumin, coriander, turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala, lemon juice, and salt. Mix well to coat the chicken evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

  2. Grill the Chicken: Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Thread the marinated chicken cubes onto skewers and grill for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until cooked through.

  3. Prepare the Tomato Sauce: In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat some oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and ginger-garlic paste and cook for another minute.

  4. Add the Tomato Puree: Stir in the tomato puree, tomato paste, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red chili powder. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened.

  5. Add the Cream or Yogurt: Stir in the heavy cream or yogurt and season with salt to taste. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until it has reached your desired consistency.

  6. Combine the Chicken and Sauce: Add the grilled chicken to the tomato sauce and stir to coat. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through.

  7. Garnish and Serve: Garnish the Chicken Tikka Masala with fresh cilantro or parsley. Serve hot with basmati rice, naan bread, or your favorite accompaniments.


  • For a more intense flavor, marinate the chicken overnight.
  • Adjust the amount of red chili powder to your desired level of spiciness.
  • If you don’t have a grill, you can pan-fry the chicken instead.
  • To make a vegetarian version, substitute paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or tofu for the chicken.
  • Chicken Tikka Masala can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat over medium heat before serving.


Chicken Tikka Masala, a culinary masterpiece that has captured the hearts and palates of food lovers worldwide, is a testament to the vibrant and diverse culinary traditions of India. Whether enjoyed in its traditional form or adapted to suit different tastes, this dish continues to enchant and inspire, leaving a lasting legacy in the annals of culinary history.


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