Trying to figure out chicken tikka masala seasoning

After eating chicken tikka masala for years, I've finally decided to try to make it from scratch myself. I've never cooked Indian food before and my biggest hesitation is every recipe I see has a different blend of spices that goes along with the garam masala. Most times those spices are already part of the garam masala spice mix. My particular version has coriander, clove, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper. If I use 2 tsp of this garam masala, what else should I include? I was thinking equal parts turmeric and chili powder, but would love to hear suggestions from people who know how to cook Indian food. Thanks in advance.

  • Posted by: mrrizzo
  • January 20, 2021


mrrizzo January 22, 2021
Thank you for the info. This is the garam masala I have if it helps with additional comments and advice.
Kristen W. January 22, 2021
Just want to add a brief word to the wise about turmeric; it can skew very bitter so I would be carful about adding it in the same proportion as many other spices. I agree with some of the other comments that it’s a good idea for your first time to find a good recipe and follow it, but for future reference, when I improvise I tend to start with just a little turmeric and add a bit at a time. I’ve gone overboard with it in the past and ruined dishes. Anyway, best of luck!
Meera B. January 21, 2021
Every household, restaurants have a different recipe for the garam masala. But doesn’t matter the recipe the ingredients remain the same it’s the proportions that change. This is a basic small batch garam masala recipe that I often use.
Ingredients -
2 gm Cinnamon
2 gm Cloves
7 gm Green Cardamom
1 piece Black Cardamom
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1 pinch Mace
1 gm Dried Bay leaves
1 gm Dried Red Chillies
2 gm Black Peppercorns
* Heat a heavy bottom pan on medium flame, add all the measured spices.
* Dry roast them, stirring continuously for about 5 mins or till nice & fragrant.
* Blend it all using a spice grinder or mortar & pestle.
* Store in a air container.

There’s no coriander or cumin in this recipe so it’s more intense in its flavor. You can start the recipe by adding 1/2 tspn of this masala, along with coriander & cumin powder (I would highly recommend grinding the coriander & cumin at home then the readymade powders.)
Turmeric if added too much can taste bitter so start by adding 1 tspn.
You can add chili powder according to the level of spice you can handle. It’s always good to start by adding a little as garam masala has peppercorns which do add a little heat to the final dish.
Nancy January 20, 2021
Your reaction to the different recipes is natural - it reflects the reality that almost every household, cook and restaurant has its own version (see some history in Wikipedia article linked below).
Adding a tablespoon each of turmeric and chili powder at the start seems risky to me.
Rather, I would a recipe of chicken tikka masala you like or are used to (by chef, restaurant, whatever). Use that and start cooking. Taste as you go and then, or after left a day in the fridge for flavors to blend, add more spice if you see the need. Add gradually - a teaspoon at a time, cook some more, taste.
Or, if you like turmeric, consider this recipe - not chicken tikka masala, but very good.
Nancy January 21, 2021
PS Here's a recipe for this dish from one of my favorite Indian cooks/teachers, Madhur Jaffrey.
Aside from being very good, this recipe uses - as did your other recipes - both an already mixed garam masala and other individual spices.
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