If the curry world had celebrities, the most famous one would hands down be Chicken Tikka Masala. Everyone loves it. Millions delight in its creamy, comforting sauce each year. It’s the perfect blend of flavourful, fulfilling and fun.
Yes, if the Chicken Tikka Masala was a celebrity it would be a pop singer that delivers hit after hit, banger after banger, belter upon belter – never particularly breaking boundaries, but constantly delivering. And the fans keep lapping it up.
But what lies behind this extravagant fame? We want to discover more about the real Chicken Tikka Masala, its origins, its background, its controversies. So we did some digging about and this is what we found.
Who invented the Chicken Tikka Masala?
Like all the greatest stars, the origins of the chicken tikka masala are shrouded in mystery.
There are some that claim it hails from the region of Punjab, where its less famous, slightly dryer cousin, the Chicken Tikka, originates.
There are a few rumours that it actually comes from Birmingham. The most convincing case, however, is the one put forward by the Scottish.
The story goes like this: one day in the distant 70s, a disgruntled customer at the Shish Mahal restaurant in Glasgow complained about his extra dry Chicken Tikka. The quick witted owner, Mr Ali, improvised by adding some of the tasty tomato based soup he was eating to the chicken. Add a side of basmati rice and chuck a naan in for good measure and there’s your Chicken Tikka Masala.
The customer loved the invention so much that he kept coming back and ordering that same invented dish. Soon word began to spread and before you know it Chicken Tikka Masala was everywhere in Glasgow. Popularity continued to grow and and the dish went on tour round the UK. Its influence has now spread globally but we have it on good intel that its roots and its heart lie firmly in the drizzly streets of Glasgow.
What’s the difference between a Chicken Tikka and a Chicken Tikka Masala?
To really understand the difference between these two dishes we need to deconstruct them to their very core.
Both contain chicken. So far so good. Both have Tikka in their name – this roughly translates to ‘pieces’. So we can confirm that both dishes contain chicken pieces. Ok, great. Both cook their chicken in a Tandoori oven.
The difference lies in the word Masala. Which essentially translates to curry. Yep the former is just well marinated chicken served with salad, whilst the latter – the people’s favourite – comes bathed in the creamy, indulgent and tasty curry sauce that we all know and love. it’s all in the sauce.
Controversy and appearance in parliament
So adamant were the Scottish to claim the Masala as their own that they took it all the way to parliament in 2009. They wanted the dish to be recognised as a certified Scottish dish and dispel all other rumours.
The case is still ongoing but sources close to the dish in question claim that no expenses are being spared, the Masala is adamant to be recognised as Scottish.