The History of Chicken Tikka Masala

April 27, 2015

There’s no denying it – we all love curry. Most Indian restaurants and takeaway menus boast a huge range of dishes, which can often make our decision on what to have all the more difficult!

Despite the vast collection to choose from, the British defiantly have their favourites and the champion of curry in our eyes has to be a Chicken Tikka Masala. It was even dubbed England’s National dish in 2001 by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.

He stated that even though Chicken Tikka Masala is an Indian dish (or is it? More on that later…) the popularity of it in the UK shows how we take on the influences of other cuisines and use them to develop our own cooking.

Royal Nawaab Manchester explores the history of the Chicken Tikka Masala. As an Indian and Pakistani restaurant in Manchester we have seen a number of curries that have their origins within the UK and this week we consider how far can we call the Chicken Tikka Masala a UK curry.

The Origins of Chicken Tikka Masala

As our own cuisine is so different from Indian style cooking, it’s surprising that the dish is said to have originated in the UK.

The history behind the Chicken Tikka pieces is clear. About 5000 years ago, an emperor was so afraid of choking on the small chicken bones, he demanded that they be removed from the meat before being cooked in the tandoor.

However there is some debate over where the traditional Masala sauce originated from.

UK’s Chicken Tikka Masala

Rumour has it that in the 1970s, a customer ordered Chicken Tikka at Glasgow restaurant Shish Mahal restaurant but claimed that it was too dry. The flustered chef took the dish back into the chicken to make a sauce, using only a tin of tomato soup, spices and some yoghurt – and so the Masala sauce was born!

Shish Mahal are adamant that they invented the popular curry dish, so much so they filed to have Glasgow named as it’s home in 2009, this means that the dish would have been protected similarly to their other dishes, such as, Arbroath Smokies.

The claim that the dish was invented in Glasgow has come under some speculation from other cities around the UK who also claim to have created the sauce from the same ingredients.

Whatever the origins of this delicious dish we are pleased to feature it on our Royal Nawaab Manchester menu, along with a selection of classic Indian and Pakistani foods.

If all this curry chat has got you hungry, why not pay us a visit in Manchester.