Basic Tikka Masala Sauce

Pressure Cooker Tikka Masala Sauce Recipe- Basic Recipe for Indian style Tikka Masala Curries

Make Vegan Friendly Basic Tikka Masala Masala sauce for various curries in INSTANT POT AND STOVE-TOP PRESSURE COOKER

Gluten-free, Soy Free Tikka Masala Sauce, for Indian Curries with Chickpeas, Veggies(Cauliflower) Tofu or Paneer. Easy to make Tikka Sauce, recipe in which you can add even preferred meat( chicken/fish tikka), Koftas/Meatballs.

This Restaurant Style can be made in pressure cooker or open sauce pan, is freezer-friendly and can be used in so many variations. Curries, Biryani or even use as a pizza sauce.

I see so many brands for Indian Tikka Masala Sauce in the aisles but to take the store bought one when we can make at home, just under 15 mins.

Here I bring you the basic recipe, much better than the store bought one. FRESH, HOMEMADE, FREEZER FRIENDLY.

What is Tikka Masala Sauce

Tikka Masala Sauce is Onion Tomato Sauce in tangy spicy flavours with hint of sweetness.A common curry served in Indian Restaurants with Paneer, Chicken, Chickpeas or Veggies(Mixed/Cauliflower). Many people confuse it with Makhani Sauce but there is a difference between the two.

Difference between Makhani ,Tikka Masala Sauce, Bhuna Masala

Though all the 3 sauces are onion and tomato based but these are so much different in the spices used, and the ratio of onion and tomato.

Bhuna Masala(Instant Pot) is basic Onion and Tomato Masala that one can add to lentils(Ma Chane Di Dal), everyday curries like Aloo Matar, Lauki Ke Kofte,  Matar Mushroom and others. Bhuna Masala Recipe in open Pan on stove-top.

Makhani and Tikka Masala sauces have creamy texture, and we add either cream or nuts(for vegan friendly) for richness.

I make Makhani Sauce without or very less onions, and has a creamy tomato base(cashews/almonds or dairy cream) and more of silky texture. Checkout my Paneer Makhani recipe for the same. You can substitute tofu, mixed veggies, mushrooms and grilled chicken and koftas(both vegetarian and nonvegetarian).

Tikka Masala Sauce that I make has more spices(Whole Spices) with a bit more onions .I use spices like cloves, black pepper, cinnamon and bay leaf. Makhani Sauce is toward the sweeter side,Tikka Masala Sauce is more on spicy side. Also, we use good amount of butter to make Makhani Sauce. Makhani word is from Makhan(butter), and is translated as buttery sauce. Both sauces can be used as a base for varied no. of curries dishes.

Indian Base Sauces and Curries

Curries are a major part of Cuisine of Indian Sub Continent (including Pakistan and Bangladesh). When we talk about Curry it is a whole dish, with vegetables or meat added and cooked in  a particular sauce.Do you know in Indian Cuisine there are over 15 lakh, documented and undocumented curries!!??

Sauce  for the curries can be either onion tomato based majority of North Indian, it can be a coconut based curry from South Indian States or Coastal parts of India, or Curd/Yogurt based curry from Rajasthan, Gujarat regions.The choice of ingredients mainly depends on the availability of local ingredients.

While making curries from base sauces with different veggies and meats, one should sensibly select the combos. Some food combinations can go wrong.. Like adding vegetable koftas or simple paneer in Yogurt gravy.

Quick  and Fresh meals everyday with Base Sauces

A bottle of any base sauce in refrigerator, helps to cut down the extra cooking time.Add base sauce, add veggies/legumes/meat of choice and serve yourself and loved ones a nice comforting meal every evening. Who doesn’t move a freshly cooked meal? You can make ahead these base sauces 2-3 days ahead your get together and parties.

Other kinds of base sauces which are used to make wide variety of dishes are.. Greens based(mainly Spinach).. like my Spinach and Kale Saag or Palak Paneer(Spinach based)

Do Pyaza Masala Sauce for Curries like Paneer Do Pyaaza, Bhindi Do Pyaaza

Nuts based without any Tomatoes for making different Korma/Kurma or Methi Matar Malai curry

Coconut based Curry Masala Like this Traditional Maharashtrian Onion Coconut Curry

Yogurt based like Gatte ki Subzi, a Rajasthani Curry with Gatte(steamed chickpea dumplings)..Substitute Gatte with veggies like potatoes(boiled or grilled), carrots, peas, veggie koftas.

Then there are no onion no garlic curries  with khoya(milk solids), nut and tomato or yogurt base that many Indian make during the fasting days. Checkout some of the no onion no garlic Makhana Matar Aur ki Subzi(Curry), Vrat Ki Kadhi,

Desi Base is the theme for this week’s Foodie Monday Bloghop, suggested by Preethi who blogs at Preethi’s Cuisine. She suggested that we make Indian Base sauces that are used in everyday cooking or making special curries.Preethi made this Onion Coconut Curry Base. Checkout this Sri Lankan Masala that you can add to curries for adding flavours.

Tikka Masala Basic Sauce

How to make Tikka Masala Sauce for Curries

Ingredients for Basic Tikka Masala Sauce

Tomatoes– Ripe Juicy Tomatoes. You can use canned diced tomatoes also.

Onions– I like to use Red Onions, for the sweet taste in Indian Curries. You can use White or Yellow onions also.

Spices– Whole Dry Spices(Bay Leaf, Cinnamon, Cloves, Black Pepper), Garam Masala and Red Chilli Powder. If you do not want too much heat then add Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder.

Garam Masala has strong flavour, so use it judiciously . Make Garam Masala at home or you can buy from Grocery stores.

Bell Peppers– I also like to add Red Bell pepper for the hint of smoky flavour. Prefer Red Bell Pepper as it adds a nice bright red color for sauce. Other colored peppers also add the same flavour.

Herbs– Ginger, Garlic, Dried Fenugreek leaves(Kasuri Methi)

Nuts–Cashew nuts are best to add the creamy texture to sauce. Blanched Almonds or melon seeds can also be added.

In case you run out of nuts , you can skip it and add about 1/2 Cup Cream.

Do not add Sunflower seeds or peanuts as substitute for cashew nuts or almonds. This curry and Makhani Curry do not taste good with both of these. 

Check out Shahi Kofta Curry with Cashew nuts, Melon and Poppy Seeds.

Yogurt–For more rich and authentic tikka flavour. As tikkas are marinated in yogurt mix with spices, adding yogurt adds a bit of tangy taste.

For Vegan Friendly Sauce, use plant based yogurt and cashew cream(preferred).

Many recipes you will notice adding a other spices like Turmeric, Coriander, Cumin Powder ,. But, I like like to keep the base sauce simple, as every dish needs different amount of spices to be added and the real flavour of Tikka Sauce is lost in medley of spices. While making the final curry I adjust the other spices that have to be added to the curry.

How to cook Basic Tikka Sauce

Making this Basic Tikka Sauce is a breeze especially if you are making it in pressure cooker. It takes just 30 mins. from start to finish. Make it on weekends or when ever you have time.

Best part is that it is Vegan Friendly and can be made without any cream and dairy yogurt.

Checkout the detailed method to cook in Instant Pot and Stove-top Pressure Cooker in Recipe Card.

How to store Tikka Masala Sauce

It can be stored for about 2-3 weeks in refrigerator or about 2 months in freezer.You can divide in small batches freezer friendly containers and freeze it. Or, use ice cube trays.

Thaw in refrigerator for 2-3 hrs depending on the container and use as required.

How to use Tikka Masala Sauce for Curries

Tikka Masala base Sauce can be used in so many different ways to perk up your meals.

For Vegan Tikka Masala Curries–Add Chickpeas,Cauliflower,Mixed Veggies, Mushrooms to make Vegan Tikka Masala Curries. Skip Butter and use plant based yogurt. You can even use it to make Pasta(recipe updating soon).

Use it as Sauce on Pizza Base.

Add Paneer(plain or paneer tikka pieces) for Paneer Tikka Masala.

Another variation make with koftas(meatballs, vegetable or paneer).

For Dal Makhani or Madras Lentils-Soak 1 Cup of Whole Black Gram Lentils(Saboot Urad Dal) with 1/4 Cup Red Kidney Beans(Rajma) overnight. Drain water and pressure cook with Tikka Masala Sauce, to make your favourite Dal Makhani. (will update the recipe soon in a seperate post)

Basic Tikka Masala Base Sauce

Basic Tikka Masala Sauce

How to make Basic Tikka Masala Sauce for Tikka Curries in Instant Pot and Stove top Pressure Cooker.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Condiments
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2 Cups


  • Instant Pot or Stove Top Pressure Cooker
  • Knife
  • Chopping Board


  • 2 Medium Sized Onions
  • 7-8 Tomatoes(Roughly Chopped) (Roma Tomatoes)
  • 1 Bell Pepper(Medium) preferably Red Bell Pepper
  • 7-8 Garlic Cloves
  • 1" Ginger Piece
  • 2-3 Green Chillies

Dry Whole Spices

  • 1-2 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick(Medium size)
  • 4-5 Cloves
  • 5-6 Peppercorns(Black Peppers)
  • 1 tbsp Cumin Seeds


  • ¼ Cup Cashew Nuts or Blanched Almonds
  • ½-1 tsp Kasuri Methi/Dried Fenugreek Seeds
  • 1-2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1-2 tsp Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
  • ½ tsp Raw Cane Sugar/Jaggery/Coconut Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2-3 tbsp Flavourless oil like Olive Oil/Rice Bran Oil
  • ¼ cup Yogurt(Dairy or plant based)


  • Roughly Chop Onions, Tomatoes and Bell Pepper.
  • Make a coarse paste of ginger garlic and green chillies.

Instant Pot Method to make Tikka Sauce

  • Switch on the Instant Pot. Set the SAUTE mode ON for 10 mins.
  • Add oil to inner pot, once the display shows HOT, add oil.
  • Next add dry whole spices and cumin seeds.
  • When seeds crackle, add chopped onions, saute for 1-2 mins, then add coarsely crushed ginger garlic and green chillies.
  • Saute till onions start turing light pink. If it is sticking to the base of inner pot, add 2-3 tbsp of water at a time to deglaze the base. Scrape to make sure nothing is sticking to base.
  • Add finely chopped tomatoes,red bell pepper, cashews, garam masala,salt, red chilli powder and about¼- ½ Cup water.
  • Cancel the SAUTE MODE. Cover the lid and seal the Instant Pot. Set the PRESSURE COOKER MODE ON. Set the time for 5 mins.
  • Once the timer goes OFF, Wait for 1-2 mins. then do QUICK PRESSURE RELEASE.
  • Open the lid, check masala. Take out bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
  • Blend the masala in fine puree, using hand blender. Or, transfer it to a blender jar once it cools a bit.
  • Switch ON the SAUTE MODE again for 5 mins. add sugar, yogurt, kasuri methi(dried fenugreek leaves) , salt and mix well.
  • Cook for 1-2 mins till masala boils lightly.

Stove top Pressure Cooker

  • Switch on the gas on medium flame.
  • Add oil, then add whole spices and cumin seeds.
  • Once seeds crackle add onions and then ginger garlic and green chilli paste.
  • Saute and cook till onions turn light pink.
  • Add roughly chopped tomatoes, bell pepper, cashew nuts and garam masala, salt and red chilli powder.
  • Add about ¼-½Cup water and the close the lid.
  • Cook on medium flame for about 2-3 whistles. Switch off the gas.
  • Let the pressure release naturally.'Take out bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
  • Blend the masala in fine puree, using hand blender. Or, transfer it to a blender jar once it cools a bit.
  • Switch on the Stove-Top again and then add sugar, yogurt, kasuri methi(dried fenugreek leaves) and mix well.
  • Cook for 1-2 mins till masala boils lightly.

To make in open Pan

  • Follow all the steps till adding tomatoes, bell pepper and cashews. Add about 1/2-1 cup water. Cover the pan and cook till tomatoes are soft and mushy.
  • Take out cinnamon and bay leaf and blend to a fine puree,
  • Switch on the Stove-Top again and then add sugar, yogurt, kasuri methi(dried fenugreek leaves) and mix well.

How to store and Use the Tikka Masala Sauce

  • Use as required to make Chickpea tikka masala, Dal Makhani , mixed veggie or Cauliflower tikka Masala.
  • Cool it completely store in mason jars/bottles or freezer friendly boxes.



You can add about 1 tbsp of readymade Ginger Garlic paste instead of fresh ginger and garlic. 
Use green chillies as required. 
In case you run out of Cashew nuts , you can skip it and add about 1/2 Cup Cream.Add it when adding yogurt.
Keyword Indian Base Curries, Tikka Masala Curry

Pin for Tikka Masala Sauce

Do make this Basic Tikka Masala Sauce(Vegan Friendly) and use it to make delicious Tikka Curries.You can add freshly made or leftover paneer/cauliflower/chicken tikka sauce to make curries. Checkout Tandoori Gobhi/Cauliflower Tikka.

You can also use this Tikka Masala Sauce to make Makhani Sauce. Add 1/2 cup tomato sauce ,more to each cup of Tikka Sauce, butter as per liking and about 1/4 cream and a tsp of sugar.

Keep a batch of it ready in refrigerator for any time filling and comforting meals.

Whenever you make it, do give me your feedback in comments. You can post your feedback with the pic on my FB page or tag me on Instagram(#foodtrails25).  Pin the recipe for later use.

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Author: Swati

Some who believes 'EAT WELL, READ DAILY, TRAVEL OFTEN AND LAUGH KHUL KE'!!! Hi!! Swati here!!! Chef, Chocolatier, food admirer, reader, love to travel, listen to music, Bollywood and shoot nature and food pics!! Welcome to my Foodtrails and join me in my food adventure!!

15 thoughts

  1. Tikka masala is so versatile and multi purpose masala Which can be used in many curries. Having it handy saves lot of time. This looks so creamy and delicious.

  2. So many useful tips on how to store and use basic tikka masala. I’ve ordered paneer tikka masala at restaurants but haven’t tried making it at home. With your basic recipe, I’m sure I’ll be able to make the delicious curry in no time.

  3. Tikka masala using paneer or mushroom is a fav pick at my place. I always make the paste at the time of making the curry, never beforehand. Yours is a perfect one to keep 🙂

  4. Tikka masala looks very rich and creamy, can feel it’s aroma. We can also spread this on pizz a as sauce, love to add some paneer pieces in it and enjoy, yummy

  5. Basic tikka masala is so flavourful and easy to make . Thank you for sharing this Easy and delicious curry base. I am going to try this soon as my boys love curries. Beautiful click.

  6. My hubby loves the tikka masala based gravies and orders the paneer rolls masala during our dine out. This recipe is a keeper for me now as I can now make it at home. The color is so bright and inviting. Bookmarking right away .

  7. Mmmmm! Love it. Never tried making tikka masala at home it definitely one of the delicious recipes bases.

  8. Paneer tikka is a regular affair at my place but never tried making tikka masala. Bookmarking the recipe to try out soon. The tikka masala gravy looks nice thick and creamy.

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