What is Tikka Masala?
Today's offering? Chicken Tikka Masala, the national dish of the UK! It's a spin of north Indian food. Punjabi to be exact. What is the difference when you go for south Indian food? The dishes are much less sauce-based. Goa, India also boasts a host of popular, gravy-based dishes.
The word tikka refers to small pieces of meat in Punjabi. Masala means mixture. These pieces of chicken are traditionally cooked in a tandoor (outdoor clay) oven and aromatic spices.
Tikka Masala Origins
It's an old and new kind of dish. Although Chicken Tikka Masala is a fairly modern invention (c. 1950's), its humble origins date back roughly 5,000 years to the tandoor oven in Indian culture. Tandoor is said to come from various ancient languages such as Persian, Babylonian and Sanskrit.
Initially, chicken tikka masala was baked in large pieces. Along came emperor Babur, founder of the Mughal Empire. Legend has it that Babur was deathly afraid of choking on bones. He told his chef to remove all the bones from his chicken and cut it into small pieces.
So, how did Chicken Tikka Masala evolve? Well, the story goes something like this... One evening at an Indian restaurant in England, a finicky diner was displeased with his chicken tikka masala. He found the dish too dry and demanded that a sauce. This is not hard to imagine given the British affinity for dishes with gravies and sauces. The chef, annoyed or perhaps distraught, opened up a can of soup, added some spices and topped it with yogurt, Voila, Chicken Tikka Masala was born!
*Naan is a type of flat bread similar to pita.
Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe Card
Here is an easy and tasty recipe for the famous dish chicken tikka masala. This has it's origins in the Punjab region of India and dates back roughly 5000 years to the tandoor oven. This dish has an interesting food history indeed.
- In a small bowl combine 1Tbsp. of the garam masala, ginger, salt, chili powder and allspice.
- In a glass measuring cup combine the vegetable stock, red curry paste, and tomato paste whisking to combine well.
- Place the chicken in the crock pot and add the vegetable stock mixture. Stir a couple of times.
- Add in the spice mixture, onions and tomatoes and mix well. Cover.
- Cook on low for about 3 hours.
- Mix the yogurt with the remaining tablespoon of garam masala. Add to the chicken. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Add in the cilantro.
- Serve with basmati rice or naan.