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  1. #1
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    Chicken Tikka Masala

    Interesting article in Time Magazine about the origin of some popular Indian dishes. Some surprising facts. I didn't know that chicken tikka was invented in England and that biryani is derived from a Persian dish called pilau.

    One unexpected problem that confronts English tourists vacationing in India is the difficulty in finding their favorite Indian dish: chicken tikka masala. As Lizzie Collingham notes in Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, her inquiry into the origins of Indian cuisine, chicken tikka masala isn't Indian at all. A connoisseur of Indian cuisine might, indeed, consider it an absurdity: tikka (oven-roasted meat), is meant to be eaten without masala (gravy). This oxymoronic creation dates back to the fateful moment when a long-suffering Indian chef in Britain grew tired of explaining the basic facts about the tikka to his barbaric customers, mixed Campbell's tomato soup with some spices and gave them the gravy they craved. The result was magic, at least to British palates.

    In 2001, foreign minister Robin Cook declared the chicken tikka masala Britain's "national dish"; Collingham reports that the British consume 18 tonnes of it each week, accounting for a hefty portion of the $3.5 billion or so that they spend each year at Indian restaurants.

    Those who sneer at the chicken tikka masala for being inauthentic—and many do—would do well to read Collingham's lovely new book. Tracking down the origins of popular Indian dishes like the biryani, korma, vindaloo, and dhansak, she makes the surprising discovery that most of Indian cuisine is, in fact, a mongrel creation. As she shows, many of the dishes that seem most quintessentially "Indian" to Western palates are reworkings of Middle Eastern prototypes brought to India by immigrants and invaders. Over the centuries, Turks, Mongols and Persians rode down into India, bringing their love of meat, oil and nuts to a land of Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus, who favored vegetables, milk and spices. The result, says Collingham, was that "these apparently mismatched culinary cultures came together to produce a synthesis of the recipes and foods of northern Hindustan, Central Asia, and Persia." So the recipe for the Persian rice dish called the pilau, altered by chefs in the kitchens of the Mughal emperors, becomes the Indian biryani. The rogan josh, originally a Persian meat curry, travels down to Kashmir, becomes spicier, and turns reddish in color when a local herb is added. And the vindaloo, the dish that, to foreigners, epitomizes the fieriness of Indian cooking, was brought to Goa by its Portuguese conquerors; the name comes from carne de vinho e alhos—meat cooked in wine vinegar and garlic.

    Collingham tells the story of how the culinary habits of conquerors and conquered got jumbled up in India with great flair, drawing on historical records and local lore to color her tale. Thus she relates the legend, still prevalent in the Indian city of Lucknow, that the local shammi kebab, a mincemeat patty, is made with particularly fine meat because a toothless 18th century Nawab would otherwise not have been able to gnaw his way through it. If all these stories make you hungry, Collingham thoughtfully supplies several historically accurate recipes, ranging from the zard birinj, a rice dish eaten by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, to the Besan laddu, a sweet handed out to pilgrims at Tirupati, the most famous of Hindu temples. Although, as the author herself advises, you might want to stay away from the 12th century recipe for roast black rat from the court of King Somesvara III.

    While the first part of Collingham's book describes how many Indian curries came into being, the second part explains how the British Empire spread these dishes throughout the world, by creating the peculiar institution of the Indian restaurant. Almost every Indian who has gone abroad has wondered why the overwhelming majority of "Indian" restaurants in London are run by Bangladeshis; actually, Collingham writes, most Indian restaurants in Britain are run by highly enterprising immigrants from just one province in Bangladesh—Sylhet. Another odd feature of these Indian restaurants, says Collingham, is that "the food ... took on a life of its own, independent from the food of the Indian subcontinent." So the balti, a staple of British-Indian restaurants, is another dish not found in India; it was invented by Pakistani chefs in Birmingham in the 1980s. Collingham writes that this innovation is continuing in the Indian restaurants of England, and that new "Indian" dishes will be produced there. Purists in India may scoff at these creations, just as they mock chicken tikka masala. But the inventiveness of British-Indian cooking clearly adds to the appeal of India's culture throughout the world—which can only be good for India's tourism industry. The Hollywood actor Will Smith, recently in Bombay, said that one of the things he wanted to do in India was to taste "authentic chicken tikka masala." You can bet that no one told him he had gone to the wrong country.
    www.time.com/time/asia/magazine/article/0,13673,501060327-1174750,00.html

  2. #2
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    I think you will find that a lot of the changes to indian food were made during the time the uk had an empire, vindaloo and tikka masala and rogan josh are examples of this, generally the meat wasn't that nice and fresh so the English made the Indians cook it spicier for them.

  3. #3
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    chiken tikka massala has now become the national dish of the uk beating out fish and chips

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    Quote Originally Posted by Troubled
    beating out fish and chips
    aint many catholics in the uk on a friday night

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    My fave curry is a Persian curry with an English twist.

    Chicken tikka pathia. Not easy to find though, and impossible in Thailand.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troubled
    chiken tikka massala has now become the national dish of the uk beating out fish and chips
    You can get an excellent chicken tikka massala at Mr. India restaurant in Chalong Plaza, Chalong, Phuket.

    Nice to know that our favourite English curry has found its way to Phuket.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    generally the meat wasn't that nice and fresh so the English made the Indians cook it spicier for them.
    The curries are definitely hotter in England. It can be a bit excessive . Sometimes the chilis overwhelm all of the other ingredients.

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    Try a Phall njdesi, it will blow your ring piece out only to be reccommended after 10 pints of really strong lager, you wont enjoy it nor will you enjoy your mornings abulutions, but you will remember that nite for a long time

    marmers this was also one of my favourites Chicken tikka pathia, quite funny that I moved to pattaya and they don't sell it here

  9. #9
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    Never heard of pathia before. Another strange twist the Brits had was using chicken in korma. There already are seven vegetables, a ton of spices, and paneer in a navratan korma. Adding chicken to an already rich curry just doesn't work, IMO.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    Try a Phall njdesi, it will blow your ring piece out only to be reccommended after 10 pints of really strong lager, you wont enjoy it nor will you enjoy your mornings abulutions, but you will remember that nite for a long time
    Ah, but eating Phall is the surest way to get a free curry when you're a bit skint. Go to a curry house with a few mates and they're sure to chip in to see if you can wolf down a whole Phall or not - I've managed 4 or 5 in my time and I was just starting to enjoy them before I came out to Thailand - haven't had one for 4 years now.

    Never tried one without the beer though, must try it when I'm back in the UK next month.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by njdesi
    Adding chicken to an already rich curry just doesn't work, IMO.
    Korma! Curry!?

    It's a girl's 'curry'.

    Honestly Desi, you should know better mate!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog
    Korma! Curry!?

    It's a girl's 'curry'.

    Honestly Desi, you should know better mate!
    Didn't know there were masculine and feminine curries

  13. #13
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    Now you do.

  14. #14
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    There is a restaurant in Farnborough, Hampshire, UK called "The Everest Tandoori". Actually, it's in a district called "North Camp" and it's Nepalese, but it did an addictive Chicken Jalfresi. Sometimes I would have 4 or 5 take-aways a week. It was like the best chicken tikka (not masala) you ever had, with all the spicey juice from the cooking added. Maybe they put some drugs in it, I don't know, but I was addicted. If I forgot to order by phone, they'd still have the order ready when I walked in because they would see me parking the car.

    It's the only restaurant that I ever got a Christmas card from or didn't worry if I didn't have any money on me.

    But they changed management after a few years and the chef left to work in London and that was the end of that.

    One less reason to stay in England...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by njdesi
    Didn't know there were masculine and feminine curries
    There's that Smiths song, Girlfriend in a Korma, that should've tipped you off.

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