Chicken tikka masala
|Place of origin||United Kingdom |
|Main ingredients||Chicken, yogurt, cream, tomato, onion, garlic, ginger, chili pepper|
|Variations||Lamb, fish or paneer tikka masala|
Chicken tikka masala is a dish consisting of roasted marinated chicken chunks (chicken tikka) in spiced curry sauce. The curry is usually creamy and orange-coloured. The dish was popularized by cooks from South Asia living in Great Britain. The dish is offered at restaurants around the world and was described by former UK foreign secretary Robin Cook as "a true British national dish."
Chicken tikka masala is composed of chicken tikka, boneless chunks of chicken marinated in spices and yogurt that are roasted in an oven, served in a creamy curry sauce. A tomato and coriander sauce is common, but no recipe for chicken tikka masala is standard; a survey found that of 48 different recipes, the only common ingredient was chicken. The sauce usually includes tomatoes (frequently as purée), cream, coconut cream and a masala spice mix. The sauce and chicken pieces may be coloured orange using foodstuffs such as turmeric, paprika, tomato purée or with food dye.
The dish shares some similarity with butter chicken, both in the method of creation and appearance. The main difference is that chicken tikka masala uses a tomato gravy rather than a non-gravy sauce.
The origin of the dish is not entirely certain, but most sources commonly attribute it to the South Asian community in Great Britain, where the dish was popularized.
Chicken tikka masala may derive from butter chicken, a popular dish in the northern Indian subcontinent. Some observers have called chicken tikka masala the first widely accepted example of fusion cuisine. The Multicultural Handbook of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics credits its creation to Bangladeshi migrant chefs in the 1960s, after migrating to Britain from what was then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). At the time, these migrant chefs developed and served a number of new inauthentic "Indian" dishes, including chicken tikka masala.
Historians of ethnic food, Peter and Colleen Grove, discuss multiple origin-claims of chicken tikka masala, concluding that the dish "was most certainly invented in Britain, probably by a Bangladeshi chef". They suggest that "the shape of things to come may have been a recipe for Shahi Chicken Masala in Mrs Balbir Singh’s Indian Cookery published in 1961".
Another explanation is that it originated in a restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland. This version recounts how a British Bangladeshi chef, Ali Ahmed Aslam, proprietor of the Shish Mahal restaurant in Glasgow, invented chicken tikka masala by improvising a sauce made from yogurt, cream, and spices. In 2013, his son Asif Ali told the story of its invention in 1971 to the BBC's Hairy Bikers TV cookery programme:
On a typical dark, wet Glasgow night, a bus driver coming off shift came in and ordered a chicken curry. He sent it back to the waiter saying it's dry. At the time, Dad had an ulcer and was enjoying a plate of tomato soup. So he said why not put some tomato soup into the curry with some spices. They sent it back to the table and the bus driver absolutely loved it. He and his friends came back again and again and we put it on the menu.
Chef Anita Jaisinghani, a correspondent in the Houston Chronicle, wrote that "the most likely story is that the modern version was created during the early ’70s by an enterprising Indian chef near London" who used Campbell's tomato soup.
Rahul Verma, a food critic who writes for The Hindu, said he first tasted the dish in 1971 and that its origins were in Punjab, India. He said, "It's basically a Punjabi dish not more than 40–50 years old and must be an accidental discovery which has had periodical improvisations."
Chicken tikka masala is served in restaurants around the world, including Indian restaurants in the United Kingdom and North America. According to a 2012 survey of 2,000 people in Britain, it was the country's second-most popular foreign dish to cook, after Chinese stir fry.
Chicken tikka masala is now a true British national dish, not only because it is the most popular, but because it is a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adapts external influences. Chicken tikka is an Indian dish. The masala sauce was added to satisfy the desire of British people to have their meat served in gravy.
- Balti, a South Asian dish
- Chicken curry, a spiced chicken dish
- Butter chicken, a mild curry dish of Indian origin
- List of chicken dishes
- Mughlai cuisine
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