Difference Wiki

Tikka vs. Tikka Masala: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 9, 2024
Tikka refers to boneless pieces of meat marinated and grilled. Tikka Masala refers to a dish featuring tikka in a creamy, spiced tomato sauce.

Key Differences

Tikka refers to chunks of meat, like chicken or lamb, marinated in spices and yogurt, then grilled or baked. Tikka masala, on the other hand, takes these grilled meat pieces and cooks them in a creamy, tomato-based sauce rich in spices.
The flavor of tikka is primarily derived from its marinade, consisting of spices like garam masala, ginger, and garlic. In contrast, tikka masala's flavor is heavily influenced by the sauce, which includes ingredients like tomatoes, cream, and a variety of spices.
Traditionally, tikka is cooked in a tandoor, giving it a distinct smoky flavor. Tikka masala, however, is cooked on a stove, where the tikka pieces absorb the flavors of the masala sauce.
Tikka is often served with sides like naan or rice, and sometimes accompanied by mint or yogurt chutneys. Tikka masala is typically a standalone dish, enjoyed with rice or bread, and doesn't usually require additional condiments.
Tikka has its origins in the Indian subcontinent, while tikka masala is said to have been invented in Britain, making it an example of Indian-inspired British cuisine.

Comparison Chart

Base Ingredient

Marinated and grilled meat
Grilled meat in a creamy tomato sauce

Primary Flavors

Spices in marinade (yogurt, garlic, ginger)
Rich sauce (tomatoes, cream, spices)

Cooking Method

Grilled (often in a tandoor)
Cooked on a stove in sauce

Serving Style

Often with naan or rice and chutneys
Served with rice or bread, standalone


Indian subcontinent
British, with Indian influences

Tikka and Tikka Masala Definitions


Traditionally cooked in a tandoor.
The smoky flavor of the tikka came from the tandoor.

Tikka Masala

British-Indian culinary fusion.
Tikka masala is a popular dish in British Indian restaurants.


Meat chunks marinated in yogurt and spices.
He marinated the lamb overnight for the tikka.

Tikka Masala

Curry dish with grilled meat in tomato sauce.
The tikka masala had a perfect balance of spices.


A popular dish in Indian cuisine.
Tikka is a must-try for anyone exploring Indian food.

Tikka Masala

Served as a main course.
For dinner, she ordered chicken tikka masala with naan.


Grilled pieces of marinated meat.
The chicken tikka was perfectly charred and flavorful.

Tikka Masala

Features a creamy, spiced tomato-based sauce.
He enjoyed the rich, creamy sauce of the tikka masala.


Often served as an appetizer or snack.
They ordered chicken tikka as a starter.

Tikka Masala

A hearty and flavorful curry.
The restaurant's tikka masala was exceptionally flavorful.


A pendant attached by a chain so as to hang from the parting of the hair to the middle of the forehead, worn especially by Hindu brides.


A bindi.


A South Asian dish consisting of pieces of chicken or other meat marinated in yogurt and spices and cooked on a skewer.


A marinade made from various aromatic spices usually with a yoghurt base; often used in Indian cuisine prior to grilling in a tandoor.


Is tikka always made with chicken?

No, it can be made with various meats, including lamb.

Is tikka considered a healthy dish?

It can be, depending on the preparation and portion size.

What is tikka?

Marinated, grilled pieces of meat, often cooked in a tandoor.

What makes tikka masala different from tikka?

Tikka masala includes tikka in a creamy, spiced tomato sauce.

Can tikka masala be vegetarian?

Yes, using paneer or vegetables instead of meat.

Is tikka masala a traditional Indian dish?

It's more of a British dish with Indian influences.

Can tikka be eaten alone?

Yes, it's often enjoyed as a snack or appetizer.

How did tikka masala originate?

It's believed to have been created in Britain by Indian chefs.

What are common spices in tikka masala sauce?

Typically, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala.

Is tikka spicy?

It can be, depending on the spices used in the marinade.

Can tikka be baked instead of grilled?

Yes, baking is a common alternative cooking method.

Is tikka suitable for a barbecue?

Absolutely, its grilling method makes it ideal for BBQs.

What's the best way to cook tikka?

Traditionally, it's grilled, often in a tandoor.

What kind of rice pairs well with tikka masala?

Basmati rice is a popular choice.

Is tikka a main dish or a side dish?

It can be either, often served as an appetizer.

What are common sides with tikka?

Naan, rice, and chutneys are popular choices.

Does tikka masala contain nuts?

Some recipes do, but it's not a standard ingredient.

What makes tikka masala's sauce unique?

Its creamy texture and blend of spices with tomato.

Can tikka masala be made without dairy?

Yes, using coconut milk or other dairy alternatives.

Does tikka masala vary in heat level?

Yes, it can range from mild to very spicy.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons