|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 India, Pakistan and Bangladesh living in Great Britain and is offered at restaurants around the world.
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. Chicken tikka masala is similar to butter chicken, both in the method of creation and appearance.
The origin of the dish is not certain, but many sources attribute it to the South Asian community in Great Britain, some sources also cite Glasgow as the city of origin.
Chicken tikka masala may derive from butter chicken, a popular dish in the northern Indian subcontinent. The Multicultural Handbook of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics credits its creation to Bangladeshi migrant chefs in the 1960s, after migrating to Britain from 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 Pakistani chef, Ali Ahmed Aslam, proprietor of a restaurant in Glasgow, invented chicken tikka masala by improvising a sauce made from a tin of condensed tomato soup, and spices.
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. This is disputed by author Jo Monroe, who claims that this story was deliberately invented by the founder of a London restaurant "to entertain journalists".
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.
In 2001, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook mentioned the dish in a speech acclaiming the benefits of Britain's multiculturalism, declaring:
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.
Mr Sarwar claimed the dish owed its origins to the culinary skills of Ali Ahmed Aslam, proprietor of the Shish Mahal restaurant in Park Road in the west end of the city. He is said to have prepared a sauce using spices soaked in a tin of condensed tomato soup after a customer said his meal was too dry.
"Chicken tikka masala was invented in this restaurant, we used to make chicken tikka, and one day a customer said, 'I'd take some sauce with that, this is a bit dry'," said Ahmed Aslam Ali, 64, founder of Shish Mahal. "We thought we'd better cook the chicken with some sauce. So from here we cooked chicken tikka with the sauce that contains yogurt, cream, spices.