The flavorful tikka masala blend is an asset to our spice counter since we can use this powder to flavor many dishes. Therefore, we thought of sharing some effective substitutes for tikka masala blend when you don’t have it.
The best options you can use in place of the original tikka masala blend include the following:
- Homemade tikka masala spice blend
- Tikka masala paste
- Chaat masala
- Tandoori masala
- Garam Masala
- Curry powder
- Vindaloo curry powder
So, let’s take you to the rest of this article and explain how to use each of these substitutes along with their pros and cons.
The Best 07 Substitutes For Tikka Masala Blend
Indian cuisine is world-renowned for its special spice blends, popularly known as “masalas”. If you have visited an Indian home or a restaurant, you must have enjoyed their famous chicken tikka masala dish.
The base of this creamy and decadent dish is built up with its key flavoring, the tikka masala spice blend. This spice blend also has many other uses apart from its primary usage. It helps you to create flavor-packed Asian-inspired dishes with a distinctive spicy touch. The tikka masala spice blend usually comes together with ingredients such as:
- Green cardamoms
- Black cardamoms
- Coriander seeds
- Cumin seeds
- Black peppercorns
- Kashmiri red chile powder
- Turmeric powder
- Dry mango powder
Although this blend is widely consumed, made, and found across India, some might have trouble finding it in local stores outside of India. Or else, you may not have time to restock it if you need to make a quick Indian meal that requires the tikka masala blend.
In that case, you can use several other spice powders and blends to replicate the flavor and effect you get from the original blend. We have listed them below and you can choose what is best for you from the substitutes we have mentioned here.
01- Homemade Tikka Masala Spice Blend
Tikka masala spice blend requires some basic spices that you can easily get from the supermarket’s spice aisle. Thus, when you don’t have your shop-bought jar of tikka masala blend, the best thing is to make your own flavorful batch at home.
This is, in fact, the best possible substitute you can use to get the same effect as what you get from any store-bought product. You can use your homemade tikka masala spice blend simply with anything that requires our topic leader.
The best thing is, you can make this blend with the basic spices you have at home and skip anything you don’t have. Simply substitute your homemade tikka masala in a 1:1 ratio in any dish you prefer.
Pros of using Homemade Tikka Masala Spice Blend:
- The ability to get the exact flavor profile, color, quality, and texture.
- You have the sole power to control the things that go into your spice blend- increase, decrease, or skip the spices depending on your choice.
- No artificial preservatives, colors, or flavor enhancers are included so the homemade recipe can be more healthy.
Cons of Homemade Tikka Masala Spice Blend:
- It may take time and effort to find and grind the spices, which you might not always have.
- Buying individual spices may cost more than buying spice powder from the store.
- Shelf life can be lesser since no preservatives are added.
If you like to try making the tikka masala spice blend at home and looking for a place to start, we are happy to announce that we have shared a simple yet delicious recipe here. Click on this link to get the step-by-step instructions.
02- Tikka Masala Paste
Our next pick is another interesting substitute that will give a similar flavor to our topic leader. Tikka Masala Paste also comes as tikka masala curry paste or tikka masala sauce is a product you can buy from leading supermarkets, online sellers, or Asian stores, introduced to make the tikka masala-making process easier.
This is a fine, liquid paste made with ground spices and several other ingredients to add an instant flavor to any tikka masala dish. If you don’t have the tikka masala powdered blend at home, you can easily switch places with this paste to make any tikka masala dish.
This paste is also a great flavoring to marinate meat and seafood, mix with curry sauces or add to gravies and dips. This option typically contains standard tikka masala spices like black peppercorns, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, etc., along with additional ingredients like oil, fenugreek leaves, coriander leaves, flour, and more.
Therefore, this will give this alternative a more concentrated flavor than the spice powder and you may have to use a little less than the tikka masala spice powder when swapping in recipes. Feel free to adjust the amounts depending on your preference.
Pros of using Tikka Masala Paste:
- Can be used in any tikka masala recipe.
- More flavorful due to the additional ingredients.
- The pasty consistency is easily blendable with liquid-based dishes.
Cons of Tikka Masala Paste:
- Sometimes you may not find it in ordinary shops outside of India.
- The concentrated flavor might not suit your palate if you’re used to the less-intense flavor of the tikka masala spice powder.
- Might include traces of nuts, so this is not a good option for those with nut allergies.
- May contain more additives and preservatives than the tikka masala spice powder.
Although tikka masala paste is one of the closest substitutes for tikka masala powder, did you know that they have many differences? Follow up on this link and refer to our comprehensive post to learn what they are!
03- Chaat Masala
Chaat masala is among the most unique spice blends in many Indian street foods. It is spicy, tangy, and full of flavors to match the flavor profile of our topic leader.
Chaat masala is mainly made with cumin, black pepper, coriander seeds, dry mango powder, and several other ingredients to be used as an ideal substitute for the tikka masala blend. In addition to these flavor elements, it also contains, asafoetida, dried mint, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, etc., which creates its distinctive taste.
This option might not be as spicy as the tikka masala since the flavor is balanced with a souring agent, sweetener, and salt. However, this can be used in dishes that call for tikka masala as a subordinate ingredient, such as salads, salad dressings, rubs, and soups.
Pros in using Chaat Masala:
- Gives a more balanced flavor with an interesting taste.
- Can be easily found even outside of India.
- The heat and spiciness are not overwhelming.
- Contains the standard ingredients in tikka masala to compare with the basic flavor profile.
Cons in using Chaat Masala:
- The flavor can hold more sweetness and saltiness than the tikka masala spice blend.
- Most store-bought options contain various types of additives so you will not get the same quality.
- Is not a very good option to be used in tikka masala recipes.
04- Tandoori Masala
The next best tikka masala substitute on our list is the well-known tandoori masala powder. This is one of the zestiest spice blends in Indian cuisine primarily used to make the famous tandoori chicken. Tandoori masala shares many common ingredients with our topic leader such as:
- Green Cardamom
- Black Cardamom
- Black pepper
- Kashmiri Red Chiles
In addition to these ingredients, tandoori masala contains extra spices like ginger, garlic, mace, and dried fenugreek leaves. This substitute might also be a little intense in heat and sometimes contain coloring agents like artificial food coloring or beetroot powder.
Depending on the ingredients used to create the basic flavor profile, this is an excellent alternative to replicate the flavor of tikka masala powder in dishes that require our topic leader as a primary ingredient. Due to the heat, you can start from a small amount and then increase the amount as you develop the taste of the dish.
Pros of using Tandoori Masala:
- Can obtain a similar flavor thanks to the many common ingredients.
- Is widely available even outside of India.
- Comes with the versatility to use in most recipes that initially called for the tikka masala blend.
Cons of using Tandoori Masala:
- This might lack the tanginess of dry mango powder
- The heat can be too intense for those who love the right amount of heat in the tikka masala blend.
- Gives a vibrant reddish hue to the dishes if colorings are included.
05- Garam Masala
How can we forget the king of Indian masala powders when discussing a substitution? Well, the complex, flavorful, and universal Garam Masala is one of the perfect matches to be used instead of tikka masala when you can’t get hold of the original blend.
The blending recipe of Garam Masala typically changes depending on the region. But, we can see that almost every garam masala version has most of the ingredients used in the tikka masala blend. Some recipes might even contain exotic spices and herbs inherent to Indian cuisine.
Therefore, you might have to check the list of ingredients and ensure that it will give the best flavor replication before using it with your dishes. You can simply use Garam Masala in a 1:1 ratio. Or else, start with a small amount and adjust depending on the dish and your preference.
Pros of using Garam Masala:
- Garam masala is easy to find in local stores and many other places outside India.
- You can have a flavor similar to the tikka masala spice blend.
- This substitute can even be used in traditional tikka masala curries when you don’t have the original blend. You may have to do a few alterations in the dish to get a closer flavor replication.
Cons of using Garam Masala:
- Some Garam Masala variations might be slightly intense in flavor and spiciness.
- You may have to fix the tanginess of dried mango powder if you don’t find this ingredient in your Garam Masala powder.
06- Curry Powder
Ubiquitous curry powder is a simple blend of dry spices that makes delicious Asian-inspired curries. Interestingly, this alternative also shares many common ingredients such as:
- Cumin Seeds
- Coriander Seeds
- Black Pepper
- Red chiles
You can find many versions of curry powder in the store, ranging from mild to intense in spiciness. Mild curry powder is turmeric powder-based and contains small amounts of spices while there are robust curry powder types with more spices.
The ingredients used in each type would differ accordingly. Due to the extensive variety, you can choose the product that suits your requirement. Curry powder is an excellent substitute to be used instead of tikka masala in many instances for a closer flavor replication.
You can effectively use the curry powder in the same amount as the tikka masala blend. If not, start with a small amount and increase the quantity as you develop the taste.
Pros of using Curry Powder:
- Is readily available in many places even outside of India.
- Available in many variations to choose from to match your requirement.
- The bulk of common ingredients will give a very similar flavor to that of the Tikka masala blend.
- Can be even used to make authentic tikka masala dishes.
Cons of using Curry Powder:
- Some variations of curry powder may have a milder flavor than the tikka masala blend.
- Dry mango powder is not typically used in this alternative so you might have to adjust the flavor by adding a pinch of this ingredient.
07- Vindaloo Curry Powder
As the last option on our list, we chose the very special vindaloo curry powder, which is a unique curry powder type coming from Goan cuisine. This robust spice powder carries a very similar characteristic, containing the basic ingredients that you can find in a tikka masala spice blend. These ingredients include the following:
- Red chiles
- Coriander seeds
- Cumin seeds
- Black pepper
Apart from the standard spices, this alternative also contains a decent amount of black mustard seeds, fenugreek, Indian bay leaves, and curry leaves, making it more powerful in flavor and texture.
The spiciness can be compared to that of the tikka masala spice blend so that it will pair well with coconut milk-based dishes. So, you can use this with most recipes that initially called for our topic leader, especially in gravies, curries, curry sauces, and with meat, fish, and seafood.
Start by substituting a small quantity at the beginning if you’re not about using replacements for tikka masala. If you’re comfortable with the flavor, you can adjust the amount as you make the dish.
Pros of using Vindaloo Curry Powder:
- A similar flavor and color can be obtained.
- The dishes can come out more flavorful due to the bulk of spices.,
- Gives a characteristic spiciness to any dish.
- Can be even used in tikka masala dishes when the flavor is adjusted with a few easy steps.
Cons of using Vindaloo Curry Powder:
- The heat of vindaloo can be a bit too intense for those who love the mild nature of tikka masala blend.
- May not be available in every store outside of India.
- The spiciness can be somewhat overwhelming if too many spices are included.
- The flavor of dry mango powder could not be found in vindaloo curry powder.
Cooking Without Tikka Masala Spice Blend Is Still Possible If You Have These Substitutes Around!
A hassle-free cooking experience is what all of us crave each day. Sometimes, cooking can be a bit of a serious matter when we find out that the ingredients are missing. If you’re a serious Indian spicy food lover, you must be using the tikka masala spice blend quite often.
But if this ingredient goes missing in your kitchen, the substitutes we have discussed above will come to your rescue. While homemade tikka masala spice blend and tikka masala paste are exact matches to replicate the flavor of your store-bought tikka masala spice blend, other alternatives will also help you big time!