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Britain’s chicken Tikka Masala is food for thought

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British cuisine is usually considered to be bland and not spicy. Contrarily, one of its most sought after meals is chicken tikka masala, whether you are ordering in, cooking, or going out to dinner.  If you were designing a grocery delivery software for a British supermarket, you’d have the dish at the top of your list, right along with kippers and crisps.

How to make an irresistible chicken tikka masala

Chicken tikka masala is probably one of the tastiest meals to eat because it has deboned cubes chicken cooked in a thick, velvety thick sauce that you can accompany with literally any carbohydrate, or have it on its own.  Start by roasting, or pan frying chicken cubes to a golden brown on high heat for about five minutes. Next, place the chicken cubes in a pan and add some onions, garlic, tomato paste and the spices that give the vibrant orange-red color; turmeric, garam masala and a smidgen of chili powder. After another four minutes, pour in a cupful of chicken stock and let the curry cook until the flavors combine and your chicken is ready.

Spices are not native to the UK and came during the British empire trade with Asia and the far east, but you will find them in most grocery shops and supermarkets. Wealthy Britons have been cooking with spices since the middle ages. Fortunately, everyone has access to them in modern times.

Was chicken tikka masala invented in Britain?

You will have diverse views on whether it was made initially in Glasgow, or it came from India. Glaswegians proudly claim that the dish was a brainchild of Mr. Ali Ahmed Aslam. The story is that a customer at Mr. Aslam’s renowned restaurant, Shish Mahal, was unhappy that the chicken was dry and sent it back to the kitchen. Mr. Aslam was suffering from a stomach ulcer and could only take soups, had the brilliant idea of adding some of the tomato soup and a few pinches of spices to the meal, to counter the dryness. Thus, was the chicken tikka masala born. The customer enjoyed the meal so much that they began patronizing the curry house regularly and bringing their friends along.

There are claims that the dish originated from the Asia minor continent, such as in Punjabi, Bangladesh or India, and has undergone alterations due to the spices that were most commonly available. The one unanimous agreement is that since the 1970s, chicken tikka masala is a British obsession.

The British parliament nearly debated about chicken tikka masala in the House of Commons

In 2009 a motion was put forward in parliament, to recognize Glasgow as the origin of the dish and confer it with the status by the EU, that protects the geographical setting of a meal. Unfortunately, the motion did not reach debate.

Final thoughts

More often than not, you will find that chicken tikka masala features on menus, all across UK eateries. Not many other foods can claim to have contributed to British parliamentary motions. We should perhaps be more appreciative that Britain is a multicultural melting pot.




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