Chicken Korma vs Tikka Masala: What Makes Them Different?

chicken korma vs tikka masala

If you’re new to Indian food, you might be clueless and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of sauces.

Chicken Korma and Tikka Masala are two of the most popular Indian dishes, and knowing the difference between the two will help you go a long way in the world of Indian cuisines.

We know the feeling you get when you’re at a restaurant with so many options and can’t decide the best one. 

Many sauces with various ingredients exist in Indian cuisine, and the names aren’t exactly self-explanatory. The inability to decide is apparent with Korma and Tikka Masalas.

Don’t worry; we’ll help you here by finding the primary differences: in ingredients, spices, and cooking method variations. Here we come.

What is Chicken Korma Masala?

To know about Korma masala, we must understand Chicken Korma and it’s a creamy and mild southern Indian dish. We braise the chicken in the creamy sauce until it’s juicy and tender. We sear the chicken beforehand, which gives it a crisp golden texture before braising.

They make the sauce from yogurt and spices such as poppy seeds, coconut, cashews, blended almonds, garlic, and ginger. It results in a creamy and nutty-flavored dish. We serve chicken korma with naan bread or steamed rice.

Store-bought Chicken Korma Masala helps you recreate the original taste of Chicken Korma without going through the trouble of making the sauce yourself. The dish is pretty aromatic, and the color ranges from being yellowish to being a pale orange.

What is Chicken Tikka Masala?

Chicken Tikka Masala is a spicier complex made from Indian spices, cream, curd, tangy flavor, onions, and tomatoes. The dish begins with tandoori chicken and a skinless bird marinated in a spiced yogurt sauce. It’s then put in the oven and cooked until it’s smoky and juicy.

Chicken Tikka Masala takes tandoori chicken a step ahead by simmering it in another sauce of tomatoes, cream and onions. When cooked, the dish gets an orange color, thanks to turmeric and paprika.

Though some restaurants use lamb or beef, we mainly used chicken for the dish. Chicken is cut up into bite-sized boneless chunks by chefs and then marinated with the sauce. 

Suppose you can’t get into the complicated process of preparing Chicken Tikka Masala sauce/gravy. In that case, the store-bought Chicken Tikka Masala can help you achieve the original taste right in your kitchen!

Chicken Korma vs Chicken Tikka Masala: What’s the Difference?

Both Chicken Korma and Tikka Masala seem pretty similar to the untrained eye. If you don’t know the two and the ingredient list, it’s easy to mistake one for the other.

They have the exact origin; in India, they’re similar in some aspects, making you confused between the two. 

We cook them in the same way, and they serve both Chicken Korma and Tikka masala traditionally with naan or steamed rice.

Now let’s go over the differences between the two.


Compared to Tikka masala, Chicken Korma is less spicy. It has a mildly nutty, sweet, and earthy taste. It contains coconut, coriander, and nuts. If you opt for a memorable Indian or Pakistani Korma Masala recipe, Indian food enthusiasts advise you to add some almonds too.

Tikka Masala, in contrast,  is creamier and spicier thanks to the main ingredients: tomato cream, garam masala (a mixture of ground spices), and yogurt. Thanks to turmeric and coriander, it also has a slightly sweet taste, though this sweetness isn’t like korma and is acidic. Additionally, you also get a bit of a smokey flavor.


Despite looking similar, the texture of the two is also different compared to each other; Chicken Tikka masala is drier than korma. 

Chicken Tikka Masala can serve as an appetizer, whereas Korma is the main course. The reason is that we braise Korma, unlike Chicken tikka masala.

Although they look almost identical, there is a subtle taste and flavor difference between them. As chicken tikka masala is spicier, it works well with plain white rice or cheese naan. Being milder and earthier, Korma works better with something like coconut rice, and can we serve it with “nan,” “Roti” Pratha, or tortillas if it has some more hot flavors despite having a more potent and sweeter taste.

Meat Cut 

Though this can be a difference, it isn’t always followed by most cooks. Usually, chefs make tikka masala with smaller boneless chicken pieces, while they make korma with more significant cuts of meat, like chicken legs. 

Chicken Cooking Variations

To make Chicken Tikka, We sear them beforehand either in the oven or directly on a grill. It helps to improve the taste and make it epic.

Traditionally, in korma, chefs boiled the meat with the sauce together, but nowadays, they add the meat later on. It doesn’t change the taste much, but it’s not 100% authentic.

Usage Variations

Chefs use chicken tikka masala to make curry or as a rub. We also use it to make curry vegetables for a vegetarian dish. We can also use it as a marinade to make chicken tikka.

As its name indicates, they use Korma masala mainly to make chicken korma, though it can cause other Mughlai cuisine. Korma has several variations, the most famous ones being Vegetable korma and Navratan Korma ( named after nine courtiers of Akbar, the Mughal emperor.)

Chicken Tikka vs. Korma Masala: Nutritional Information

If we use the serving size as 1 cup for both Chicken Tikka Masala and Korma Masala, we get the following nutritional values.

Chicken Tikka Masala

It has 353 calories per serving, of which 33% are from fats (60% saturated fats). 56% are from Cholesterol. 86% sodium, 21% potassium. Carbohydrate content is 3%, while protein content is 7%.

Korma Masala

Korma masala has 322.7 calories per serving size. 36% are from fats (38% saturated). 25% cholesterol levels, 15% sodium, 11% potassium and 4% carbohydrates. It also has a 6% protein content.

Similarities Chicken Korma vs. Tikka Masala

As you already know, both these dishes are of Indian origin. Thus, they have many similarities, making it hard to distinguish between them. Let’s go over them below.

Origin story

Pork and beef are forbidden in Muslim and Hindu communities in most of India. Therefore, chicken and meat have become the most common meats. Many dishes have these as their main ingredients.

Cooking styles

We cook both these dishes similarly to each other. Chicken is first marinated. Then we cook. We may fry them in a pan or grill them until it’s golden and crisp. Then we throw the chicken into a creamy sauce, resulting in a curry.

The cooking time is also similar. You need about 45-60 minutes to prepare both dishes. Though the cooking time is impacted by factors such as the sauce and its thickness, usually, it’s a pretty accurate estimation of the time needed to cook them.

Side dishes

They serve chicken korma and chicken tikka masala with similar side dishes, mainly naan bread or steamed rice. People also consume them in surrounding countries such as Pakistan and Nepal.

Therefore, chicken korma and chicken tikka masala are both creamy and tasty. The main difference is that the latter is spicier thanks to garam masala, while the former has an earthy and nutty taste.

Sauce vs. dry Masala

If you’re in the market, you may have come across two Chicken Korma and Tikka masala; sauce and dry masala. First, let’s look at the dry masala and how chefs use it to make the dishes.

Dry Korma Masala

If you use dry korma masala, you need to make the sauce yourself. The masala acts as the spices in the sauce. First, you need to put some oil in the pan and let it heat up. Then add ginger, garlic, onions, and some yogurt.

Then we add the dry masala, which gives it the taste required. Shan Masala is the best quality imported masala with no added preservatives or food coloring, which provides it with the best flavor and makes it healthy!

Dry Tikka Masala

Dry tikka masala will give you the Indian touch it needs to be complete, and it’s an entirely traditional way of making Chicken Tikka Masala. We can use it as a rub and for curry (as in our case). 

As was the case with dry korma masala, you’ll need to make the sauce from scratch. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onions. Then you add ginger and garlic until you smell the aroma. Then instead of individual spices, we add the tikka masala into the mix.

Pataks Korma Cooking Sauce

It’s also gluten-free and gives your easy korma the taste it needs to compete even with the best restaurant that serves kormas! All you need is one jar and one pack of chicken breast, and you’ll be ready to cook the best korma you’ve ever had!

Maya Kaimal Tikka Masala Sauce

This tikka masala sauce is a rich blend of tomato and Indian spices such as cumin, clove, and cinnamon, which give it a fantastic flavor that’ll be hard to distinguish from the real thing. Just grill or cook chicken in the oven and cook it in the sauce. Your Chicken Tikka Masala is ready to serve.

Chefs have thoroughly tested this recipe to provide you with the best flavor – and without any hassle!

Is Chicken Korma Masala gluten-free?

Chicken Korma Masala is entirely gluten-free. It being gluten-free primarily depends on the ingredients used in the recipes. Let’s look at what these are and whether they’re gluten-free.

Coconut FlourGluten-free
Tapioca Starch (used in Store-Bought) MasalaGluten-free
Herbs and SpicesGluten-free

Is Chicken Tikka Masala gluten-free?

Chicken Tikka Masala is gluten-free. Like any other recipe, the gluten status depends on the recipe ingredients. Below are the details about all the ingredients. 

Corn starch (used in Store-Bought Masala)Gluten-free
Herbs and SpicesGluten-free

If you’re gluten-sensitive, you can get a gluten-free option too.

Is chicken korma masala spicy?

No, Chicken Korma Masala isn’t spicy. Despite the pungency of chilis and spices, the heat level is pretty mild, and you can tolerate it easily. The reason is cream, milk, almonds, and nuts add to the overall sweetness of the curry. Chicken Korma Masala is considered close to butter chicken for being a balanced mix of spicy and sweet flavors, which sometimes leads to confusion.

Is chicken korma masala keto?

You can have chicken korma masala on keto as it is keto-friendly for being protein and fat-rich, and low-carb. Yet, make sure you’re counting on your macros, or you can make a special keto recipe to balance the proportion of fats and proteins in your dish. 

For example, the Keto diet demands 70-80 percent fats, 5-10% carbs, and 20 percent protein from your total calorie intake.

The calorie count in Chicken Tikka Masala, per serving of 245 grams, can vary from 590 to 600 calories. Out of which:

  • 33 grams of protein make 132 calories =  33% of total Calories intake
  • 9.4 grams of carbs makes 37 calories= 9.5% of total calorie intake
  • 22-gram fats make 220 calories= 56% of total calorie intake.

If you opt for regular Chicken Tikka Masala, you can eat it on keto, but not on a complementing carb-rich dish like rice. You’ll have to compensate for the fat deficit of about 200 calories by consuming 20 more grams of fat that give you 200 fat calories.

The calories in this Keto Chicken Tikka Masala, per serving of 225 grams, can vary from 390-to 400 calories. Out of which:

  • 33 grams of protein make132 calories =  22% of total Calories intake
  • 9.4 grams of carbs makes 37 calories= 6.5% of total calorie intake
  • 42-gram fats make 420 calories= 71% of total calorie intake.

Thus, your macros will eventually be 71% fat, 22% protein, and about 5% carbs.

You don’t need to worry a lot if you have mainly been looking for keto chicken tikka masala recipes. You can follow the traditional recipe by adding about 75% more fat to the total quantity, as the recipe describes. And you’ll have a Keto Chicken Tikka Masala with 590 calories per serving of 245 grams.

Your recipe would entirely be a Keto Chicken Tikka Masala. Honestly, no rocket science has been involved in it! 

Final Thoughts

Most people who try Indian foods tell them apart by their ingredients. But those with little prior knowledge are usually not able to detect subtle taste changes between the two dishes. They end up back to where they started and keep scratching their heads about the differences between the two.

Hopefully, after reading through the article, you have developed an understanding of the differences between the two. Let us know how helpful this article has been for you and what you want to know more about using the comment section below.

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