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Chicken Tikka Masala

Raj Dishes

(or Chicken Tika Marsala)

Tikka Chicken (baked small pieces of chicken which has been marinated in spices and yoghurt), in a very rich tomato gravy (masala) made using tomato purée or ketchup with cream or coconut cream and minced onion, slightly spiced with paprika. Served with rice or chips.

Chicken Tikka Masala, as now commonly served
Image: Unknown

It is difficult to define the origin of the dish as the words tika, here meaning 'marinated' and masala meaning a spiced sauce, occur in both the Hindi and Urdu languages, so may originate anywhere in Northern India or Pakistan. But in both those areas Chicken Tikka is a dry dish of chargrilled chicken pieces and any accompanying masala sauce is served separately.

Chicken Tikka, without the marsala - a dry dish
Image: www.tandoorihousedirect.co.uk

How the two parts came to be combined in English curry-house practice is not clear. We can find record of 'Chicken Tikka.. with a delicate tandoori sauce' in the 'Kensington Post' of Friday 30 June 1972 (p33), but nothing from a restaurant in England by precisely the CTM name until advertisements by the Silisila Tandoori Restaurant in Reading as late as 1985.

There is a persistent tale that a 1970's diner demanded gravy for his 'too dry' tandoori chicken and the cook responded by adding a tin of tomato soup, while it is also said that CTM originated with Bangladeshi cooks in Birmingham, though a similar spiced tomato gravy is known from the Punjab. Several restaurants, including Glasgow's Shish Mahal, and the Moti Mahal in New Delhi claim to be the source, but the first definitively recorded use of the name we can find was in the American John D. Shelhart's compendium 'Manhattan Menus' in 1975, which describes the dish as 'chicken kebab with chopped tomatoes and butter'. There is, of course, no reason why CDM might not have been invented by more than one innovative cook quite independently.


Whichever town can claim to be the first home of Chicken Tika Masala, it certainly seems to have been somewhere in Britain. From where it has been transported back home. A similar journey to that taken by Kegeree and Vindaloo.

So, here's an authentic Indian receipt from India for an 'authentically British' dish...

Original Receipt from NDTV-India, 2022 (India - Machine translation from Hindi)

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Ingredients of Chicken Tikka Masala
2 tbsp curry or tandoori paste
2 tbsp curd
2 chicken breasts (sliced with skin)
3 tbsp single cream (pure and thick cream)
200 grams tomatoes
2 tsp ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, sliced
2 medium red chilies (seeded and chopped, if you're using birdeye peppers, use only half a chili)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 (crushed) tsp cumin seeds
1/2 (crushed) tsp coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
25 grams green coriander

How to make Chicken Tikka Masala
1. Take curry or tandoori paste in a bowl. Add curd to it and beat it well. Then add chicken pieces to it. Mix again.
2. Keep the bowl in the fridge for about one to two hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 180 degree celcius. Bake the chicken pieces for 10 minutes.
4. In this, put cream, tomato, ginger and garlic in a bowl and grind it. Keep it on the side.
5.Heat oil in a pan. Add bay leaves and onions and fry them. When the onions turn golden-brown in colour, add chilli, turmeric, paprika, salt, cumin, coriander and garam masala.
6.Fry for a minute. Then add chicken pieces to it. Fry for five minutes.
7. After this, add tomato and cream mixture to it.
8. Cover and cook on low flame for five minutes.
9. When the curry turns red and cream, then add 125 ml. Took. Or add five ounces of water and cook for a minute.
10. Keep in mind that the texture of the dish should be thick and soft.
11. The more finely you cut onions, the thicker the gravy will become. Then take the mixture off the flame.
12. Serve garnished with green coriander.

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