Gluten Free

Is Tikka Masala Gluten Free?

Besides chicken biryani or jerk chicken, another of my favorite chicken dishes is chicken tikka masala paired with some naan bread and basmati rice—heavenly! That moment when you dip the garlic naan bread into that creamy, rich curry, all washed down with a Budweiser beer, should be added to the list of world wonders.

While I still battle the thought of this dish being a UK dish or an Indian dish, I feel we all have a bigger worry, which is the gluten status of tikka masala spices and sauce. There is no chicken tikka masala without the sauce or spice, and here is everything you need to know about tikka masala spice for celiacs or nonceliac gluten sensitivity.

What is Tikka Masala?

Any time we hear tikka masala, the chicken instantly comes to mind. However, tikka masala is independent of the chicken; it is the spice used to make the chicken dish. The term “tikka” is translated as chunks, and the term “masala” is translated as a blend of spices. So, tikka masala is a blend of spices used on chicken or other meat alternatives.

The origin of this spice is highly debated; depending on who you ask or where you ask, you will be told it was invented at Shish Mahal Restaurant in Glasglow, Scotland. Others credit the spice to Bangladeshi migrant chefs in Britain, and some tag Royal Mughal’s chef Zaeemuddin Ahmad.

Irrespective of the originator, there is no particular accepted taste for tikka masala, as numerous chefs infuse their signature with either an omission or inclusion of an ingredient. Typically, you will find a combination of some of the following ingredients: Kashmiri chili powder, cumin, mango powder, coriander seed, and fenugreek. These spices are all toasted before they are ground, giving them that authentic Indian flavor.

Is Tikka Masala Good For You?

The ingredient used in this spice varies highly, as do the health benefits, but you are most likely going to derive the following from using the tikka masala spice blend for your dishes:

  • Anti-inflammatory content: Some tikka masala spices or sauces make use of turmeric, which contains curcumin, a compound rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Fiber: Most of the spices used in making tikka masala are rich in dietary fiber, which could aid regular bowel movements, resolving any digestive issues.
  • Iron: Spices like cumin and paprika contain a great deal of iron, which is important for the production of hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that is tasked with supplying oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body.

Is Tikka Masala Gluten Free?

Typically, tikka masala spices are gluten-free as they are made from ground spices like ginger, turmeric, paprika, cumin, coriander, and fenugreek, which are all gluten-free and safe for celiacs and nonceliac gluten-sensitive individuals to consume.

However, commercial brands may contain gluten in the form of a binder or additive. It is imperative to check through their label list to be sure the particular brand you’re buying is free from gluten. I make my tikka masala spice at home because it gives me the freedom to choose what taste I intend to derive and to ensure it is completely free from gluten. It is what you could make and store in a jar to be used for months.

Possible gluten sources in tikka masala spice and sauce

here’s a table listing possible gluten sources in tikka masala spice and sauce:

Ingredient Gluten Source
Wheat flour Gluten protein found in wheat
Malt vinegar Derived from barley, contains gluten
Soy sauce (if included) Some brands contain wheat
Modified food starch May contain gluten, depends on the source
Barley malt extract Contains gluten from barley

Is Sharwoods Tikka Masala Gluten Free?

Sherwood tikka masala sauce is a flavorful blend of yogurt, tomatoes, and cream. It is the perfect sauce for making any masala dish. This sauce is one of my favorites, and it is my first go-to sauce when I want to enjoy a gluten-free experience without the hassle.

Does Tikka Masala Sauce have gluten? Final Thoughts

Tikka Masala Sauce Gluten-free status is dependent on the brand. Brands like Trader Joe’s contain distilled malt vinegar, making them not gluten-free. While dining out, always check with the chef to ensure they put in extra effort in making your dish gluten-free or go to chains with gluten-free menus, or you could whip your sauce together at home—navigating the possible risk of gluten contamination.

Cortiso Davids

My culinary adventure began at an early age when I would stand on a chair to help my mom stir pancake batter. Over the years, I've honed my skills and knowledge, drawing inspiration from family recipes, celebrated chefs, and the vibrant food cultures that make our world so diverse and fascinating.

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