Tikka Masala: History, Flavor, Benefits, Uses

Tikka masala can refer to the famous chicken tikka masala dish, but it’s also the name of the spice blend used to flavor the dish. The word tikka means chunks or pieces; masala means a blend of spices, so tikka masala is a spice blend for a dish consisting of pieces of meat or an alternative. The tikka masala spice blend was invented for the dish, and the dish has many origin stories.

One apocryphal story states that tikka masala was invented by a restaurant owner in Glasgow in the 1970s. According to the story, a customer of the Glaswegian curry house known as Shish Mahal complained that his chicken was dry. The owner of the restaurant smothered the chicken in condensed tomato soup that he flavored with spices before adding a dollop of yogurt. The resulting dish was — according to the owner — the world’s first chicken tikka masala.

The Glasgow origin story would place the chicken tikka masala in the same category as nachos and Mexico’s mole — all (allegedly) the products of emergency improvisations.

These days, the dish chicken tikka masala is one of the most popular dishes served in Indian restaurants around the world. It is particularly popular in Britain with a 2012 poll naming it the nation’s most popular foreign dish to cook.

Many people believe that butter chicken inspired chicken tikka masala and the tikka masala spice blend. Butter chicken was invented at a restaurant in New Delhi and was made with the leftover marinade for tandoori chicken mixed with butter and tomato. Tikka masala could be described as a milder version of tandoori masala.

Tikka masala flavor profile

The ingredients in the tikka masala spice mix vary depending on the cook; there is no such thing as an authentic version. The spices that you see in most blends include coriander seed, black peppercorns and Kashmiri chili powder. Other possible additions include cumin, fenugreek, and mango powder. To give this dish a more authentic Indian flavor, you should toast all the spices before grinding them. Some tikka masala blends get closer to the dish’s butter chicken origins by adding tandoori masala to the mix, which increases the blend’s complexity.

Health benefits

The ingredients of the tikka masala spice blend can vary, but the most popular versions provide nutrients like:

  • Fiber : Many of the spices in tikka masala are good sources of dietary fiber. Combining multiple fiber-rich ingredients in one blend means that you get a relatively high amount of fiber per serving.
  • Iron: Spices like paprika and cumin are known to be exceptional sources of iron and help to make tikka masala a good source of the mineral.

By consuming dishes flavored with tikka masala spices, you may help to reduce your risk of developing conditions like:

  • Constipation: The increased fiber that you get from using tikka masala spices is useful for ensuring regular bowel movements and may help to treat or prevent constipation.
  • Anemia: Increasing the iron in your diet is one of the ways to fight anemia, which is a condition where a person lacks sufficient hemoglobin.

Tikka masala uses

The main way to use tikka masala is in the chicken tikka masala dish or any of its variants. If you want something different, you can try using it as a dry rub or to season a mild version of tandoori chicken.