Tikka Masala vs Curry – What’s the Difference? Which is Better?

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If you’ve been wondering about the difference between tikka masala vs curry, you’ve come to the right place. Tikka masala and curry are two different cooking styles. However, they are often thought to be the same Indian food dish. Want to learn more about what makes these two distinctly different? Join in and let’s learn more about tikka masala vs curry cooking styles.

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Tikka Masala Vs Curry – What’s The Difference? Which Is Better?

What Is Difference Between Masala and Curry?

Tikka masala and curry are very similar when it comes to Indian cuisine. Most people think of these two in terms of spice. However, they are actually two different cooking styles.

To put it simply, curry is a dish cooked in curry. Tikka masala is added to curry dishes to make them spicier. In addition, there is also a contrast in the taste, texture, appearance, and consistency between these two. Let’s go a little further to uncover those differences now.

Tikka Masala vs Curry

Difference Between Curry and Tikka Masala

Though many people think that both tikka masala and curry are interchangeable, the reality is that they aren’t.

Let’s take a peek at a few ways that tikka masala and a curry dish may differ when it comes to making certain recipes:


Tikka masala has a spicier dimension to it than curry. It’s a blend of black pepper, ginger, and garlic along with coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, paprika, and turmeric combined to bring consumers out-of-this-world flavor unmatched by any other average blend of seasonings.

Having said that, curry is also a winner in terms of flavorful spices. However, it has different ingredients. It lacks the ginger and garlic notes and instead focuses on turmeric, coriander, cumin, and sometimes chili peppers. The dominant flavor in most curries is turmeric. And thus, curry powder often has a dark yellow shade. Because of the seasonings used, you can expect the taste of curry powder to be mild.

There are also other types of curry, not just Indian, such as Japanese or Thai curry! You can also use curry powder substitutes when making curry, so the flavor can alter depending on the alternative.


The texture of tikka masala is often very smooth. In fact, it is so smooth that many would refer to it as “velvety” or “silky”. Throughout the masala gravy, you’ll see chunks of meat, which is literally what the word “tikka” refers to. Masala refers to the blend of spices used.

Curry dishes tend to be smooth as well, but may not appear quite as silky as tikka masala. In addition, you’ll notice that the sauce on curries tends to be a bit greasy. This is usually because of the oil used in most recipes.


Both tikka masala and curry dishes have different appearances. Depending on the other ingredients used, you may notice many variations in the color scheme.

Still, most tikka masala dishes will appear to be orange or red colored. A curry dish, on the other hand, may appear to be light to medium brown thanks to the ingredients in various curry powders.


Tikka masala can be likened to a creamy or gravy-like consistency. However, since curry contains more oil than tikka masala, it tends to be less smooth and greasy.

Tikka Masala Vs Curry – What’s The Difference? Which Is Better?

Tikka Masala vs. Curry: The Differences

When it comes down to the main difference between masala and curry, I’d have to say it’s the heat and flavors used.

Though both showcase chicken, vegetables, rice, and several similar spices, tikka masala is by far the most playful in terms of flavor.

Having said that, if you’re a person who really enjoys mild and singular tastes, then curry should be your go-to. Just remember that curry is made with oil, and thus it won’t be as smooth in consistency as a tikka masala might be.

Chicken Curry vs Chicken Tikka Masala

If you’re still wondering about which of these might taste best, remember that it really depends on your flavor preferences.

Tikka masala can be added to curry to spruce it up a bit, but curry on its own is the tamer of the two options. If you like a little heat and love serving up colorful exotic dishes, then tikka masala is likely to impress you and anyone you serve it to!

What Is Special About Chicken Curry?

Chicken curry is one of the well-known Indian dishes that even Americans know and enjoy. It is crafted with chicken and a variety of spices, though the curry dish itself usually isn’t very spicy.

The taste of curry powder can often be likened to that of garam masala. It can also be purchased at your local grocery store and sprinkled on virtually savory food for added spice and unique flavor.

Try the Kerala curry recipe the blog featured!

What Is Special About Chicken Tikka Masala?

Tikka masala is known for its incredible flavor and note-worthy appearance. With a fiery red or bright orange hue and silky smooth consistency, chicken tikka masala is one that most people swoon for, especially if you love spice and heat.

The dish got its name from the word “tikka’ meaning bits and pieces, which refers to the flecks of chicken that can be found throughout tikka masala’s silky smooth sauce.

Curry vs Masala

Now that you know the difference between your typical curry and tikka masala, you may be interested in noting the differences between tikka masala and other types of curry. There are indeed a mixture of various types of curry you can cook, all of which bring their own unique flavor to the table. You may wish to compare dishes such as lamb tikka masala vs lamb curry, massaman curry vs tikka masala, or biryani curry vs tikka masala.

Let’s take a look at some of the other types of curry and how they stack up against traditional tikka masala.

Madras Curry vs Tikka Masala

Madras curry is more similar to tikka masala in that it tends to be orange in color and features a spicier taste than traditional curry. It is also often doused with a lot of chili powder, making it a unique and very flavorful version of curry.

Korma Curry vs Tikka Masala

Korma curry originated in South Asia and is a mild yet creamy version of curry. The use of yogurt in korma curry makes its creamy consistency similar to that of tikka masala, though the color is often bright yellow or orange.

Kashmiri Curry vs Tikka Masala

Kashmiri curry is a delicious dish that features chicken, lamb, or prawns. They’re also made with onion in either a creamy coconut or yogurt sauce. It won’t be as spicy as tikka masala, but it will mimic its creaminess.

Tikka Masala vs Curry

Tikka Masala vs Curry: They Are Two Different Styles!

As you can see, although tikka masala and curry are often treated as if they are interchangable, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, both tikka masala vs curry have major differences that can’t be ignored.

From the sauce to the cooking ingredients, and even the overall taste, tikka masala and curry have notable differences that make them unique.

I hope this has helped!

Tikka Masala vs Curry FAQs

Is chicken masala the same as chicken tikka masala?

Yes, they are often the same. Tikka just means bits and pieces which often refers to the flecks of chicken found within the sauce in chicken tikka masala.

What makes tikka masala different?

Tikka masala is spicier and is more of a red-orange color than a traditional curry. Thus, the two can often be distinguished based on these differences alone.

Is tikka masala like curry?

It is similar, but it isn’t the exact same thing.

Is chicken masala same as chicken curry?

The two dishes are somewhat similar. However, they aren’t the same thing.

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind CooksDream.com, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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