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Chicken tikka masala

"Chicken masala" redirects here. For the Italian dish, see Chicken marsala.
Chicken tikka masala
Chicken tikka masala
Course Main course
Place of origin Uncertain; South Asia or Scotland [1]
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredients Chicken, yogurt, cream, tomato, onion, garlic, ginger, chili pepper, coconut
Variations Lamb, Fish or Paneer Tikka Masala
16x16px Cookbook:Chicken tikka masala  16x16px Chicken 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.


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.[3][4] The sauce usually includes tomatoes (frequently as purée), cream, 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.[5] Other tikka masala dishes replace chicken with lamb, fish or paneer.


The origin of the dish is unclear. One explanation claims that it originated in an Indian restaurant in the United Kingdom.[2][6] Rahul Verma, a Delhi expert on street food, speculated in 2009 that the dish may have originated—probably by accident with subsequent improvisations—in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh during the last 50 years.

One claim recounts how a chef, Ali Ahmed Aslam, proprietor of the Shish Mahal restaurant in the west end of Glasgow, invented chicken tikka masala by improvising a sauce made from yogurt, cream and spices.[7][8] His son Asif Ali told the story of its 1971 invention to the BBC's Hairy Bikers TV cookery programme:

On a typical dark, wet Glasgow night a bus driver coming off shift came in and ordered a chicken curry. He sent it back to the waiter saying it's dry. At the time Dad had an ulcer and was enjoying a plate of tomato soup. So he said why not put some tomato soup into the curry with some spices. They sent it back to the table and the bus driver absolutely loved it. He and his friends came back again and again and we put it on the menu.[9]

In July 2009 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.[10] The motion was not chosen for debate, nor did Sarwar speak on this subject in Parliament.[11][12]

Ethnic food historians Peter and Colleen Grove discuss various origin-claims of chicken tikka masala,[13] suggesting 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 Masala sauce was added to satisfy the desire of British people to have their meat served in gravy."[14][15][16]

Chicken tikka masala is served in restaurants around the world, [17][18] including Indian restaurants in the UK and North America. A 2012 survey of 2,000 people in the United Kingdom claimed that it is that country's second most popular foreign dish to cook, after Chinese stir fry.[19][20]

See also

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  1. ^ Nelson, Dean; Andrabi, Jalees (4 August 2009). "Telegraph Online: Chicken tikka masala debate grows as Indian chefs reprimand Scottish MPs over culinary origins". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 28 April 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Lloyd, J and Mitchinson, J. The Book of General Ignorance. Faber & Faber, 2006.
  3. ^ Jackson, Peter (2010). A Cultural Politics of Curry in "Hybrid Cultures, Nervous States: Britain and Germany in a (post)colonial World". Amsterdam: Rodopi BV. p. 172. ISBN 9789042032286. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  4. ^ Webb, Andrew (2011). Food Britannia. Random House. p. 177. ISBN 978-1847946232. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Chicken tikka masala with paprika, retrieved 5 November 2009 
  6. ^ Gillan, Audrey (21 June 2002). "From Bangladesh to Brick Lane". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2002. 
  7. ^ "BBC News Online: Glasgow 'invented' Tikka Masala". London. 21 July 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2009. 
  8. ^ Agencies (6 August 2009). "Scots lay claim to chicken tikka masala, Indians fume". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 September 2009. 
  9. ^ BBC Hairy Bikers' Best of British Series 2: 5. Food and the Empire. First shown: 6.30pm 5 April 2013
  10. ^ "UK Parliament Early Day Motions 2008-2009". Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  11. ^ "UK Parliament Archives 2008-9". Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  12. ^ "UK Parliament Archives 2009-10". Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  13. ^ Is It or Isn't It? (The Chicken Tikka Masala Story)
  14. ^ "Robin Cook's chicken tikka masala speech: Extracts from a speech by the foreign secretary to the Social Market Foundation in London". Guardian. 19 April 2001. 
  15. ^ Mannur, Anita (2009). Culinary Fictions: Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture. Temple University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-4399-0077-2. 
  16. ^ Collingham, E. M. (2006). Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. Oxford; NY: Oxford University Press. p. 2. ISBN 0-19-517241-8. 
  17. ^ "The Hindu: Tastes that travel". Chennai, India. 24 February 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2007. 
  18. ^ Aravind Adiga (20 March 2006). "The Spice of Life". Time. Retrieved 1 June 2007. 
  19. ^ "Stir-fry now Britain's most popular foreign dish". The Mirror. 21 January 2012. 
  20. ^ Hills, Suzannah. "Vindawho? Chicken tikka masala knocked off top spot by Chinese stir-fry as Britain's favourite dish". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 

Further reading

  • Curry Club Tandoori and Tikka Dishes, Piatkus, London — ISBN 0-7499-1283-9 (1993)
  • Curry Club 100 Favourite Tandoori Recipes, Piatkus, London — ISBN 9780749914912 (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

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