Glasgow and the History of a Wee Cheeky Tikka
Glasgow has given the world culinary catastrophes such as the deep fried Mars bar, deep fried pizza, deep fried banana. (Which I’m afraid will never count as one of your five a day), and any other food you would consider dipping into a vat of oil, that boils at a heat more volcanic than the surface of the sun (approx temp).
(Lets be honest though, at 3:55 am after a night successfully surfing the unsteady social waves of Glasgow’s nightlife, what’s your immediate concern, before making the long journey home? A big greasy, angina causing “chippie” of course.)
Glasgow, however, has a legitimate claim to a piece of culinary history, one of the most popular dishes in the world, Mince and tatties? Haggis, neeps and tatties? Nope. The chicken tikka masala.
Funnily enough, Glasgow at the moment is joint top in the UK Curry Capital awards, only Bradford is equal on points.
This year however, Bradford has the opportunity leave Glasgow trailing in its wake, after Glasgow failed to enter this year’s competition due to the 2014 Commonwealth commitments.
The origins of the tomato based Masala dish, began in a restaurant firmly in the heart of Glasgow’s West End.
The story goes that, back in the 70’s Ali Ahmed Aslam was cooking a tikka dish in his restaurant Shish Mahal. So far, so normal. However on this particular night a customer, said to be a local bus driver, requested his dish be sent back due to its lack of texture and the chicken being too dry.
Asking for a sauce to help with the texture of the chicken, Aslam was slightly puzzled as to what sauce would compliment the chicken tikka. On this fateful night Aslam had been snacking on a tin of tomatoes to help with a recent stomach ulcer.
A spark of genius/insanity struck Aslam, why not mix the chicken and spices with a tomato based sauce, giving the chicken more moisture, less spice whilst increasing the dish’s flavour.
Chicken Tikka Masala was an instant hit, and its success was so spectacular it is now arguably the most popular curry dish in the world.
In 2009 the European Union even considered awarding the tomato based dish protected geographical status, similar in terms to Arbroath Smokie, Cornish clotted cream or Welsh Lamb.
Following Glasgow’s quest to claim the rights of Chicken Tikka Masala, Chefs in Delhi were aghast and expressed their displeasure at the attempt to claim ownership.
Rebutting their claims, Zeemuddin Ahmad, a chef at the Delhi’s Karim Hotel. A hotel established during the rein of Emperor Bahudar Shah Zafar (1775-1862) said the recipe had been passed down through the generations in his family.
Chicken tikka masala is an authentic Mughlai recipe prepared by our forefathers who were royal chefs in the Mughal period. Mughals were avid trekkers and used to spend months altogether in jungles and far off places. They liked roasted forms of chicken with spices.
Speaking about his family’s alleged legacy. He said. “Chicken tikka masala is an authentic Mughlai recipe prepared by our forefathers who were royal chefs in the Mughal period. Mughals were avid trekkers and used to spend months altogether in jungles and far off places. They liked roasted forms of chicken with spices.”
With both parties laying claim to the dish a survey was prepared and after quite extensive research details uncovered in regards to Chicken Tikka Masala proved to be quite extraordinary.
The survey found that there are nearly 48 different recipes for chicken tikka masala, the only common ingredient in all of the recipes was chicken, so it’s quite possible that the particular tikka masala that Ali Ahmed Aslam cooked on that night, was unique, and actually did originate in Glasgow, whilst the foundations of tikka masala were cemented way back in the 1700’s.