In 2009, many chefs' hats were thrown to the floor in a huff over the origins of the Chicken Tikka Masala. Of course, Anglo Indian dishes have come a long way since Mughal India sported a 12th Century recipe of roast rat in the court of King Somesvara III.
The Chicken Tikka [roasted meat] and Masala [Gravy] used to be Britain's most popular dish until the Jalfrezi kicked it off its top position.
The Chicken Tikka Masala is the stuff of legends - it is said that Mr. Ali Ahmed Aslam, owner of the Shish Mahal restaurant in Park Road, Glasgow, Scotland, prepared a sauce using spices soaked in a tin of tomato soup after a customer whined about the Tikka being too dry. This much talked about legend spiralled around the UK and helped crown the Chicken Tikka Masala as the nation's top Indian dish. Even Robin Cook MP sparked controversy in his infamous Chicken Tikka Masala Speech hailing it as a true national dish. This is what he said:-
Chicken Tikka Massala 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 Massala sauce was added to satisfy the desire of British people to have their meat served in gravy.
The debate was summarised by the Curry House.
In 2009, a number of MPs decided that they wanted official recognition for the dish. This move ignited the chef hat throwing event that appears to occur every few years . The ever faithful UK masala paper - The Telegraph featured it.
The MPs, led by Mohammed Sarwar, claim the dish was invented in Glasgow in the early 1970s and now want official European Union recognition through a "Protected Designation of Origin". It would put Glasgow's chicken tikka masala on a par with Parma's Parmesan cheese or French 'Champagne'.
A few years prior to the above row, Will Smith - Aka The Fresh Prince of Bel Air - went to India in search of the Chicken Tikka Masala . The question is, did he ever find it in India or did he have to land in Glasgow to sample the authentic dish?
The Calcutta Telegraph offered an interesting twist to the legendary tale of tomato soup fusion.
"According to Iqbal Wahaab, who made the transition from writing about Indian food to running an Indian restaurant, "no one really knows who created the dish. It just evolved. I was the one who told the story about the dish being invented because a customer had complained his food was too dry. But I now confess that I made that story up"
Of course, this chili-hot argument ignites every few years between the chefs of India and England. One thing is for sure, the legend was a good public relations event that made the Chicken Tikka Masala (in)famous world wide. For those who wish to visit the original location of the legend - travel up to Glasgow and sample the chicken tikka masala at the restaurant that has dished out this famous recipe for years.. .
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