The Chicken Tikka Masala myth

Last updated 06:15 10/04/2014

A FAKE? Is the beloved Chicken Tikka Masala nothing but the illegitimate child of capitalism and imperial arrogance?

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Ganesh Raj
SPEAKING UP: Our resident Crimes Against Food writer, Ganesh Raj.

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A weekly food series that takes an irreverent but informative look at crimes against food. This week Ganesh Raj discusses Chicken Tikka Masala...

If you think Chicken Tikka Masala is Indian food then you've had the seductive touch of Kashmiri silk pulled over your eyes.

To the unacquainted, Chicken Tikka Masala is a mild curry commonly mixed with tomato and cream elements. As you will see below, it is nothing but the illegitimate child of capitalism and imperial arrogance.

During the time period of Jahangir (17th century India), Tandoori Chicken was created. The Chicken pieces were skinned, marinated in yogurt and spices, and cooked in a clay oven. The marinade had a red colour given to it by Hungarian Paprika, and Ratan Jot, the root of a flower plant.

Fast forward to the 1950s: the Tandoori Chicken becomes a standard item at all Indian restaurants in UK. God forbid that the British enjoyed a culinary art form created hundreds of years ago.  Instead they found the dish too dry and as such demanded a dip or a gravy of sorts. Something that would give them the colonial comeuppance they so enjoyed.

Enter the collaborator, Chef Ali Ahmed Aslam of the Shish Mahal restaurant in Glasgow. He created a dip by adding spices to a can of condensed tomato soup, unleashing that Frankenstein of a dish that has since been butchered and served to many an unsuspecting diner.

People complain about Indian food being too creamy and oily. My advice - stop eating the imposters and go for the real thing.  Proper Indian food, as it is cooked in homes, is totally different. A careful balance of fat and flavor, constructed in a way that nourishes both the mind and the soul.

And here's another eye opener for you. The word curry is a fake. Curry means gravy. It is not a word used to collectively describe an Indian meal.

So the next time you pop out for a beer and a gravy (curry), the owner can see you coming a mile away.

And ... (please move head from side to side while saying the following...) 'I'm telling you', he is 'thanking you very much' for coming.

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