Chicken Tikka Masala – Is It Indian?
Succulent pieces of boneless chicken, marinated in yoghurt and different Indian spices and then roasted in the tandoor; that for you is Chicken Tikka Masala (CTM). CTM is certainly the Kohinoor of the non-vegetarian dishes. And in recent times it has been spiced up with an extra ingredient- Controversy over ownership of the dish.
It all began when in 2001 Robin Cook, the then Foreign Secretary declared CTM as the British National Dish. And it had people from India wondering if after the Kohinoor the Britishers were now stealing the most popular dish of India. In 2009, Mohammad Sarwar, the Labour MP for Glasgow Central, made matters spicier when he demanded the EU Protected Designation of Origin Status for CTM. He claimed that the dish was Glasgow’s contribution to the world.
Actually, there are many vying to claim the dish as their own. Let’s have a look at the contenders:
The Ali family, owners of Shish Mahal in Glasgow, claim that CTM is their invention. According to Ahmed Aslam Ali, they cooked it up to impress the Scots in the 1970s and modified it to make it juicier with some sauce as suggested by a customer.
Zaeemuddin Ahmad, a chef at Delhi’s Karim’s Hotel, claims that CTM is originally Mughal in its origin. The recipe for CTM, according to Chef Ahmad, dates back to the Mughal period and was prepared by the royal chefs.
Another claim says that a Bangladeshi chef cooked up CTM in an Indian restaurant for a British gentleman. As per the claim, the British gentleman found the original CTM too dry and thus the chef reinvented the dish by dunking in some tomato pulp and yoghurt along with the spices to make it juicier.
There is another claim that CTM was originally Butter Chicken in British India. It was reinvented as CTM with fewer spices and a toned down flavour to suit the palette of the Britishers.
According to Chef Rahul Verma, CTM has its roots in Punjab. He believes that the dish is not more than 40-50 years old, and was an accidental invention.
Well, with so many claims, CTM is basking in glory. It is amazing how a plate of CTM has become a subject of controversy. Well, as far as the foodies are concerned, set the controversies aside and bring that plate of CTM in to dig into.