Tikka Masala vs Vindaloo

Tikka Masala vs Vindaloo: A Spicy Showdown of Indian Curry Classics

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Indian cuisine is known for its rich flavors, diverse cooking methods, and its ability to create flavorful savory dishes using various spice mixes. It offers a wide range of flavors, from mild and aromatic to hot and spicy. If you are a fan of Indian cuisine, you might like the idea of savoring iconic dishes like tikka masala and vindaloo.

Tikka Masala vs Vindaloo



Tikka masala is believed to have originated in the Indian subcontinent, although its exact origin is a subject of debate. One theory suggests that tikka masala was invented in the United Kingdom. It is believed that Ali Ahmed Aslam invented chicken tikka masala at his Glasgow restaurant in the 1970s.

Origin 1

On the other hand, vindaloo is a dish that originated in the coastal state of Goa in India. Vindaloo is actually a dish that was inspired by the Portuguese dish called “Carne de Vinha d'Alhos", which means meat marinated in wine vinegar and garlic. The Indian version evolved to include a variety of meats and spices.

Differences Between Tikka Masala And Vindaloo

Differences Between Tikka Masala And Vindaloo

Tikka masala and vindaloo are both popular Indian cuisines, which showcase the depth of flavors and spices that make Indian food so beloved around the world. While both these dishes are made using a variety of spices and have a runny texture, there are quite a few differences between the two.



For instance, tikka masala typically has a creamy and velvety texture. The meat is usually marinated, grilled, and then simmered in a rich tomato-based sauce. The sauce is thickened with ingredients like cream or yogurt, resulting in a smooth and luscious texture. The meat in tikka masala is often tender and succulent.

Texture 1

On the other hand, vindaloo has a slightly different texture compared to tikka masala. The sauce in vindaloo tends to be thinner and more tangy due to the inclusion of vinegar or tamarind. The meat is marinated and cooked in the spicy vindaloo sauce, resulting in a moist and flavorful dish. The texture of vindaloo can vary depending on the specific recipe, but it generally has a well-cooked and tender meat texture with a slightly saucier consistency.

Spice Level

Spice Level

In terms of spiciness, tikka masala is usually milder compared to vindaloo. Tikka masala incorporates a balance of aromatic spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala, which provide depth of flavor without overwhelming heat.

Spice Level 1

In contrast, vindaloo is known for its fiery heat. It typically uses a combination of spices such as red chili peppers, black peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon, resulting in a hot and spicy flavor profile. If you can handle spicy food, you might want to try vindaloo.



There are a few differences in terms of flavor and spiciness. On one hand, tikka masala has a very rich and creamy flavor with a mild to moderate level of spiciness. Tikka masala sauce or gravy is mostly just tomatoes blended with a wide range of spices so it does produce a mildly sweet and tangy flavor as well.

On the other hand, vindaloo is usually very hot. The main base is chili paste so it has a very high level of spiciness. The heat may be overwhelming for some so make sure to give your guests a warning before serving. The sauce or gravy has vinegar and tamarind, which makes it tangy and sour.



Tikka masala is originally made with chicken but you may use other meat alternatives. For instance, you can make tikka masala with beef, lamb, mutton, or even pork. The recipe for the thick sauce is the same. The spices and herbs used to make tikka masala are paprika, cumin, ginger, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, and chili among others.

Variations 1

Although tikka masala is usually made with meat, you can turn it into a vegetarian dish. Instead of meat, you can use paneer which is a popular Indian cheese as the main protein. All you have to do is marinate cubes of paneer in a yogurt and spice mixture, grill or pan-fry until golden, and then simmer them in a creamy tomato-based sauce. Paneer Tikka Masala is a must-have for all cheese lovers!

For a vegan twist, try Tofu Tikka Masala. You can marinate the tofu cubes pan-fry or bake them until crispy. Then, add the tofu to the tikka masala sauce for a flavorful vegan option. You can also make Vegetable Tikka Masala using tikka masala sauce with vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, cauliflower, carrots, and peas. 

Variations 2

Like tikka masala, vindaloo can be made with meat alternatives to chicken. You can use beef, lamb, mutton, or pork. The marinade and cooking process remains similar, with the meat of your choice absorbing the flavors of the spices and the tangy vinegar-based sauce.

If you want to avoid meat, you can also make Vegetable Vindaloo using vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, and peas. The vegetables are cooked in the tangy and spicy vindaloo sauce until tender. Paneer Vindaloo is also a delightful variation that uses Indian cottage cheese instead of meat. 

Variations 3

Mushroom Vindaloo is another flavorful vegetarian option. Button mushrooms or any variety of mushrooms are marinated and cooked in the vindaloo sauce. The mushrooms absorb the spices and tanginess, resulting in a savory and satisfying dish.

Serving Style

Serving Style

Tikka masala and vindaloo are both versatile dishes that can be served in a variety of ways. 

If you want a full meal, you can serve tikka masala with basmati rice, which is gluten-free and low in fat, or white rice. If you want to elevate your rice choice, you can serve tikka masala with fragrant pulao or biryani. These rice dishes are cooked with spices, vegetables, and sometimes meat, adding another layer of flavor to the meal. 

Since tikka masala is quite thick, you can also serve it with naan or roti. In that case, you might want to serve your dish with raita on the side. Raita is a yogurt-based side dish that provides a cooling contrast to the spiciness of Tikka Masala. It is made by mixing yogurt with chopped vegetables like cucumber, onion, and tomatoes, along with spices like cumin and mint. 

Moreover, Indian pickles and chutneys are excellent condiments to serve alongside this dish. The pickles and chutneys add a burst of flavor and provide a tangy or spicy kick to the dish. 

On the other hand, vindaloo is fiery and tangy which is best served with steamed rice. You can use basmati rice or shorter-grain rice such as Japonica rice. You can also serve vindaloo with naan or roti. The soft texture of the flatbread allows you to scoop up the rich curry and enjoy the flavors together. 

If you are craving something crunchy, you can have your vindaloo with papads. Papads are thin wafers that are made using lentil flour, chickpea flour, rice flour, or a combination of these flours. Some people use potatoes as well. If you’re serving your vindaloo with papads, you might want to keep some pickles and chutney on the side. Spicy mango pickle, lime pickle, or tamarind chutney can provide an extra burst of tanginess and heat.



Spices and Indian cuisines are inseparable. Whenever you are cooking Indian curries, make sure you have a variety of spices in hand. The spices are what brings out the best flavor of these dishes. 

The recipes for tikka masala and vindaloo are pretty simple, although they require a wide range of spices. The gravy or sauce is the base of the dish so remember to follow all the instructions properly if you want authentic flavors. 

To make tikka masala gravy, you will need butter or ghee, a good amount of onions, garlic, ginger, diced tomatoes, and raw cashews. You will also need spices such as salt, turmeric powder, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder, and cardamom powder. 

The first step is to add butter or ghee to the pan. Once the pan is hot, add the chopped onions and cook them for about 7 minutes over medium heat till they turn golden brown. Then, add the finely grated ginger and garlic into the pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes. In the next step, you will roughly chop around five tomatoes and add them to the pan. Then, put the lid on and cook for about 10-15 minutes on medium to low heat. 

The tomatoes should be properly cooked in order to get a nice, thick sauce. You may also add a few tablespoons of tomato puree to add more thickness to the sauce. Tomatoes are the main base of tikka masala gravy so make sure to add a handful. You may also add a few coriander leaves for added flavor. You can cover the pan with the lid for another 10-15 minutes so that all the flavors mix well. 

After another 10-15 minutes, you should add the spices. You should add salt, turmeric powder, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder, and cardamom powder to the tomato paste in the pan and give it a good mix. You will notice that it turns into a deep, beautiful color and produces a very rich aroma. 

At this point, your tikka masala sauce is ready to be added to the cooked meat, paneer, or tofu. If you are making meat-based tikka masala, it might be best to marinate the meat beforehand and leave it in the marinade for a couple of hours before putting it in the oven or grill. You should make the gravy while the meat cooks.

Recipes 1

On the other hand, vindaloo is a hot and sour dish that requires a lot of chilies. The first step is to soak the dried Kashmiri or red chili overnight in salty water. Then, make a chili paste by blending the soaked chili, water, and garlic cloves together. You should also add coriander seeds and cumin seeds while blending the ingredients. 

When you are done making the chili paste, heat a good amount of oil to cook the mustard seeds over low to medium heat. Then, add curry leaves, chopped onions, and minced ginger to the pan. Once the onions turn golden brown, add the chili paste and give the mixture a good stir. Then, put the lid on and let it boil for around 15 minutes. 

The texture of the vindaloo gravy should not be too runny nor too thick. When the gravy starts to bubble, add a cup of tamarind and vinegar to bring out the sour flavor. Then, add salt to taste. In order to make the sauce more flavorful and thicker, you may add a cup of coconut milk. 

If you want to make your vindaloo gravy even more spicy, you may add 100g of regular dry chili as well as 100g of Kashmiri chili.

If you do not want to go through the trouble of making these dishes from scratch, you can always use ready-mix spices for tikka masala and vindaloo.



Whether you prefer the creamy and mildly spiced tikka masala or the bold and fiery vindaloo, exploring these iconic dishes allows you to experience the authentic taste and complexity of Indian flavors. Both dishes have their unique appeal and can be enjoyed by those who love Indian dishes.

5/5 - (3 votes)

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Bella Howard

Bella Howard is a contributing writer and foodie with a particular love of Mexican, Chinese and Euro...

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