Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
November 04th, 2008 66 Comments

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Indian Food: Chicken Tikka Masala RecipeChicken Tikka Masala

As much as I love Indian food and grew up eating lots of Indian dishes, I don’t cook Indian food well. I am honored to have Meeta of What’s for Lunch Honey as a guest writer on Rasa Malaysia. I adore Meeta’s writing skills and droolsome food photography, plus she is such a fine cook. Please welcome What’s for Lunch Honey as she shares the history, origin, and recipe of Chicken Tikka Masala.

The chicken tikka masala is known all around the world as one of the most popular Indian dishes. The irony of the chicken tikka masala, better known as CTM, though is that what is often enjoyed in restaurants as a traditional Indian dish has very little to do with authentic Indian cuisine.

When Rasa Malaysia wrote to me asking me if I would be interested in being a guest writer on her blog I was extremely ecstatic. She wanted me to help her show her readers how to cook a chicken tikka masala. She cracked me up when she referred to me as “a real Indian food expert” – I was flattered but modestly and in all honesty admit that I do not consider myself an expert in Indian food and the irony of this is that I am going to be showing her readers how to cook “Britain’s true national dish.”

It was the British Foreign secretary, Robin Cook who announced the chiken tikka masala as the new national dish of Great Britain. The statement was used to set an example for the British multiculturalism. The chicken tikka masala Mr. Cook was referring to was in actual fact the gravy based dish invented in Britain.

Chicken tikka, on the other hand, is indeed an original Indian dish, prepared by marinating small bite-sized bits of chicken in yogurt and and spices, which are then grilled over a charcoal fire, giving it that lovely, unmistakable smokey flavor.

Indian Food: Chicken Tikka Masala RecipeNo – you cannot have gravy with that!

Apparently that was exactly how the chicken tikka masala was invented. The story of this dish is somewhat amusing to say the least. A British gentleman dining in a restaurant, sometime in the early 1960′s, exclaimed his chicken tikka to be too dry and demanded a gravy with his bits of grilled chicken. The chef, who was exasperated and at his wits ends by the complaint, improvised by opening a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, added a dollop of yogurt and sprinkled some spices on the dry chicken tikka and presented the dinner guest with Chicken Tikka Masala! It was relished by the British gentlemen and that was when the chicken tikka masala was born. Today 18 tons of chicken tikka masala is consumed in Britain – per week!

In her book Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, Lizzie Collingham takes an excellent look at the history of Indian food. She dedicates an entire chapter to the chicken tikka masala. She writes, according to food critics the chicken tikka masala

“was not a shining example of British multiculturalism but a demonstration of the British facility for reducing all foreign foods to their most unappetizing and inedible forms. Rather than the inspired invention of an enterprising Indian chef, this offensive dish was dismissed as the result of an ignorant customer’s complaint that his chicken tikka was too dry. “

There is another theory for the origins for the chicken tikka masala. Some say that the chicken tikka masala originated in British India, when local dishes were bastardized to adapt to the British palate. The Punjabi dish of butter chicken is believed to have been the first prototype for the chicken tikka masala.

What would you call the chicken tikka masala – fusion food or a “mongrel dish”?

For those who belittle the chicken tikka masala for being inauthentic and untraditional to India will want to read Lizzie Collingham’s Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. Collingham researches the true origins of several traditional Indian dishes like biryani, korma and dhanasak and finds surprising answers in the Middle East and Persia.

The chicken tikka masala might very well have been a dish adapted by the British upon their return from British India and today enjoys incomparable popularity. It might also have been the ingenious invention of an Indian chef to satisfy his guest. As an Indian however, I do have to say, I am delighted that it was the desire to experience a flavor of India that made this dish so popular.

The recipe I am sharing with you was not created by my grandmother, mother or my dad. In my family chicken tikka masala was only enjoyed in restaurants, I never remember it ever being made at home. While none of my family members prepared the chicken tikka masala at home they, just like several expatriate Indians living outside India, enjoyed the rich creamy flavor of the tomato based sauce and the combination of spices.

I’ll let you in on a secret: I really love the chicken tikka masala and unlike my grandmother and mother, do prepare it often at home. Over the years I have found my favorite spice blend and flavor combination for my own personal chicken tikka masala. Indian fusion food for everyone to indulge in!


It’s easy to see why this dish might get confused for a typical Indian dish. There certainly is a lot of flavor coming from a typical Indian kitchen. I love the smokey aromas the chicken gets after being grilled on the charcoal and I always do get Tom to throw on the barbecue for this. The oven is a great alternative but that smokey flavor goes missing. It’s also wonderfully distinct it the rich sauce. The incredible orange color appeals to the eyes and the thick creamy texture is just waiting for warn pieces of naan to be dunked and scooped up.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do and thank you for having me over as your guest.

All photographs and written content © Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved Please Ask First.

Click Page 2 for the Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe Recipe
Tagged as:

66 comments... read them below or add one

  1. PC says:

    Realy enjoyed this last night and it looked fantastic but i agree with the comment above it was a little spicey for CTM. Anyhow, It was so nice my OH wants me to make it again tonight!! but this time im going to half all the spice ingredients and im going to whizz the toms first in a blender to see if i can get a smoother sauce. I don’t know what cocktail toms are, i just used an ordinary tin of chopped toms but as i just threw the toms straight in there were lumps at the end in the sauce. I didnt want to blend it then as i find that intensifies spices. A little more cream helped bring the heat out. There was one small piece left and i nibbled it this morning to see what the taste was like and it was even better so i do advise to marinate over night. I didnt have time and only did it for about 4 hours. Try it. I hope you like it.

  2. Bindhya says:

    Chicken tikka masala is an Indian can she says it’s a british dish. Steal something from some country and announcing it’s our new national dish.!!! Ha ha ha Very funny!! Same like kohinoor diamond.!!

    • samuel says:

      I think you’ll find if you actually researched this that chicken tikka is an indian dish but chicken tikka masala is a scottish variation. they found tikka on it’s own to be too dry and so developed the ‘gravy’ to go with it. don’t get offended before you do the research.

    • kazy says:

      Chicken Tikka Masala is a fusion Indian British dish that comes from the UK. Just like Lasagna is not authentically Italian in that it does not come from Italy. It is an Italian American dish. Tikka Masala is an Indian-Brit dish. It most certainly has all the aromas and flavors of Indian cuisine. However the abundance of the tomato sauce is the British contribution to the dish as I don’t believe Indian cuisine uses that much tomato sauce and besides something this good has no replication in dull tasteless British food, as anyone who has sampled UK food can tell you, but it did originate in the UK, inspired by Indian cuisine, possibly to entice the English palette of which there is none. Just kidding. Not. No, really, I am….not.

      • Scouse says:

        ya what…English food has flavour my son. fish and chips, a full english, what about shepperds pie? Silly statement mate.
        Cournish pasties…nuff said I think. In dian food is wonderful, but every country has dishes that are just as wonderful.

    • Simon says:

      Chicken Tikka masala is also considered the “brother” of butter chicken, which originated at the Moti Mahal restaurant. The guy behind it is named Kundan Lala gujral.

      And even if did originate in glashow, it’s still a indian invention.

      Chopsuey is also not invented in china, but it’s still invented by chinese chefs in America.

      So in other words tikka masala originates from the hands of indian chefs. We could go on and argue about the origin and story behind it. But one thing that cannot be argued about is that Tikka masala is a very tasty dish.

  3. Patricio Tomás says:

    Hello Rasa. Thanks for answering always so quickly. This recipe it’s good for three people or it’s too much? Thanks. All the best :)

  4. Really enjoyed reading this – the recipe looks delicious.

  5. What is the equivalency in american measures of 250 grams yoghurt?

  6. Labanca says:

    This is one of the best Indian Recipe, which i love the most… Thanks for Sharing your way of preparing the dish…

  7. Pingback:Chicken Tikka Masala | Oksana K.C.

  8. Katherine Magwene says:

    I’m interested in making this dish, but have never heard of cocktail tomatoes (canned or not). Is there another name for them?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Thanks for visiting Rasa Malaysia, #9 most popular cooking blog. Please like Rasa Malaysia on Facebook, join email or RSS for new recipes!

Facebook  |  Email  |  RSS