15 Things You Need to Know - Alien Recipes (2023)

Anyone familiar with Indian cuisine has surely heard of chicken tikka masala. It's one of the most popular subcontinental dishes in the world. But what is plain chicken masala and how does it compare to chicken tikka masala?

Contents hide

1 Chicken Tikka Masala always uses boneless chicken pieces

2 Chicken Masala is easier to prepare than other Indian curry dishes

3 Chicken Tikka Masala is not a dish of Indian origin

4 Chicken masala is best served with chapati or naan

5 Both chicken dishes go well with salad

6 Both dishes are equally spicy

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8 What you need to make your own chicken masala

8.1 Basic Ingredients

8.2 Marinade

8.3 Paste

8.4 Spices for the curry

9 How does chicken tikka masala taste?

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10 Does Chicken Tikka Masala Have Dairy Products?

11 Is Chicken Tikka Masala Gluten Free?

12 What goes well with chicken tikka masala?

13 Is tikka masala like butter chicken?

14 Can you freeze chicken tikka masala?

15 Is Chicken Tikka Masala Keto?

The presence of tikka pieces is a key difference. Chicken tikka masala can only be made with bite-sized boneless chicken pieces. The same limitation does not apply to chicken masala.

chicken masala vs. chicken tikka masala; Here's everything you need to know.

Chicken Tikka Masala always uses boneless chicken pieces

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"Tikka" refers to boneless chicken pieces. In the context of Indian dishes, it denotes any food served with small, bite-sized meat. It's usually plain boned.

This doesn't apply to all chicken curry dishes, as the divide between chicken tikka and masala demonstrates. While you can make chicken masala with boneless chicken pieces, it's not very common.

If you read our articleOnchicken Makhani against Chicken Tikka Masala, you will see that some other curries are traditionally made from larger chunks of bone-in chicken. It explores the difference between butter chicken (a common name for chicken makhani) and chicken tikka masala.

Chicken masala is easier to prepare than other Indian curries

Chicken masala is one of the easiest Indian dishes to make. It has a short prep time and no restrictions on what type of chicken you can use. So you can use everything that is in your fridge. This makes it a favorite among beginner cooks.

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You can safely store the cooked meal in a fridge or freezer in case you overcook or want to prepare the meal the day before a gathering. The ability to prepare chicken masala ahead of time makes it an excellent option for people who like to cook well in advance.

Read more about how curry and masala dishes differ in our article titled curry vs masala.

Chicken Tikka Masala is not an Indian dish

AThe comparison between chicken masala and chicken tikka masala would be incomplete without considering the origin of the latter.

Although chicken tikka masala has an Indian name, it is actually a British dish. The ingredients and cooking methods are inspired by Indian culinary tradition, but sourced outside of the subcontinent.

The story goes that a customer ordered chicken tikka at an Indian restaurant in Scotland. They sent it back to the kitchen and complained that their food was too dry. The chef made sauce or "masala" for the chicken tikka and the customer loved it.

Continue reading our articleChicken Tikka vs. Chicken Tikka Masalato familiarize yourself with the differences between the two dishes for a better understanding.

This British adaptation of a traditional Indian dish quickly became popular both globally and locally in India. Today it is one of the most well-known foods in subcontinental cuisine worldwide and, ironically, it was not made in India.

Chicken masala is best served with chapati or naan

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Because chicken masala can be made with whole brisket/leg pieces, it's difficult to eat with rice. You can serve it with basmati rice if you like, but chapati is better.

Since you are using your hands when eating with such naan, it is easier to break the chicken into pieces with your hands. You expect to use your forks and spoons when the chicken is served with rice, which makes maneuvering a little tricky.

Both chicken dishes go well with salad

This chicken masala vs chicken tikka masala guide wouldn't be complete without exploring the similarities between these two delicious dishes. The first similarity is that they can both be served with a salad.

A bowl of fresh vegetable salad made with cucumber, onion, tomato and a drizzle of olive oil pairs well with chicken tikka masala and chicken masala.

In fact, the combination of chicken tikka masala with vegetables is a must in Indian households.

Both dishes are equally spicy

Let's continue the comparison between chicken masala and chicken tikka masala by looking at spice values.

Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Masala both use herbs with the same degree of spice. Using more or less amounts of certain spices changes the spice level, but that depends on the chef's desires.

As a rule of thumb: none of the dishes is particularly spicy than the other.

These dishes are generally only slightly spicy compared to other dishes in Indian cuisine. You also need some spice tolerance to eat. But that doesn't mean they're particularly fiery.

Make your own chicken tikka masala

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Chicken tikka masala are essentially marinated boneless chicken chunks served in a creamy tomato puree with lots of spice. It has sweet ingredients like tomato and a small amount of sugar to allow the spice to shine through.

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basic ingredients

Here are all the non-seasoned ingredients you need to cook chicken tikka masala:

  • Cashewkerne
  • Chopped chicken breast pieces
  • Creme
  • Ginger and garlic paste (individually or combined)
  • Onion
  • Tikka-Paste
  • Tomatoes (you can also use tomato puree or tomato paste)
  • vegetable oil
  • Natural yoghurt


The spices you will need include:

  • Black pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Cilantro
  • cumin
  • Garam Masala
  • Salt
  • Turmeric

You can get most of these ingredients at department stores. For others, you'll need to find a store with an extensive collection of spices.

As for the instructions, you can follow this quick guide to prepare the creamy sauce for this delicious Indian cuisine dish in the comfort of your own home.

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What you need to make your own chicken masala

Chicken masala is a broad term that refers to marinated bone-in chicken served in a curry. The curry has multiple spices, making it a bold dish with strong flavors. It also uses a significant amount of tomatoes to make a tomato sauce, making it a signature dish of traditional Indian cuisine.

basic ingredients

  • Chicken (usually cut on the bone)
  • onions
  • oil
  • coriander leaves
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Here's everything you need for the chicken marinade:

  • yogurt
  • Red Chili Powder
  • Coriander powder
  • cumin
  • pepper back
  • Cilantro
  • Cinammon
  • clove
  • Black cardamom
  • Dry mango powder
  • fennel seeds
  • turmeric powder
  • Salt


  • Ginger Garlic Paste (separately or combined)
  • Green chilli
  • Tomato paste or puree

Spices for the curry

The spices you need for the curry are:

  • Red Chili Powder
  • Coriander powder
  • cumin
  • pepper back
  • Cilantro
  • Cinammon
  • clove
  • Black cardamom
  • Dry mango powder
  • fennel seeds
  • turmeric powder
  • Garam Masala Powder

Watch this video to learn how to make your own chicken masala. Note that the various spices (other than salt) listed under the marinade are referred to as "Pav Bhaji Masala".

The term simply refers to a blend of spices commonly used in Indian cuisine. If possible, you can use it to make your job as a chef easier!

What does chicken tikka masala taste like?

Chicken Tikka Masala is creamy and has a bold flavor profile. It has a nice tomato sauce that will make your mouth water. The dish itself is a little spicy, making it ideal for those who love spicy Indian food.

Is Chicken Tikka Masala Dairy?

Yes, chicken tikka masala recipes use yogurt. You can't remove this ingredient as it is critical to the flavor palette and provides a unique input to Chicken Tikka Masala's nutrition.

However, you can use lactose-free yogurt and get the same dish. So if you or someone you know is lactose intolerant, there is no need to worry. However, if you have another problem with dairy, you need to look at other Indian cuisine dishes.

Is Chicken Tikka Masala Gluten Free?

Yes, Chicken Tikka Masala is gluten free. Although it contains garam masala, this spice is perfectly safe for sufferers of gluten-related conditions.

What goes well with chicken tikka masala?

Basmati rice and a drink can be considered chicken tikka masala side dishes. If you don't like rice, you can serve the dish with naan or chapati. Chicken tikka masala with vegetables is a favorite in India, where vegetables are added directly to the dish before serving.

As a wine accompaniment to chicken tikka masala, consider a bold red to complement the strong flavors of this dish.

Note that the calories in Chicken Tikka Masala with Rice (350 calories/meal) are more than calories in chicken tikka masala served without it (146 calories/ Have a good meal).

Is tikka masala like butter chicken?

No, tikka masala is spicier than butter chicken. It uses yogurt and chicken chunks, while butter chicken relies on heavy use of butter and fresh cream for authentic Moti Mahal flavor. In addition, butter chicken can be made from whole bone-in pieces of chicken.

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Can you freeze chicken tikka masala?

Yes, you can freeze chicken tikka masala. Cook and cool the dish completely and place in an airtight container. You can use a box or ziplock bag. Your food will stay safe for consumption for up to 3 months!

Is Chicken Tikka Masala Keto?

Whether or not your chicken tikka masala is keto depends entirely on the restaurant you're ordering from. It's a naturally low-carb dish that can contain as little as 6 grams of carbs per serving.

So you don't usually have to worry about carbohydrates with Chicken Tikka Masala. But that's not always the case, so it's best to ask the chef and look at the recipe as soon as possible.


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