Chicken tikka masala

Robin Cook announced chicken tikka masala as the new national dish of Great Britain.  Food critics immediately responded by condemning it as a British invention.  Chicken tikka masala, they sneered, was not a shining example of British multiculturalism but a demonstration of the British facility for reducing all foreign foods to their most unappetizing and inedible forms.  Rathar than the inspired invention of an enterprising Indian chef, this offensive dish was dismissed as the result of an ignorant customer’s complaint that his chicken tikka was too dry.  When the chef whipped together a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, some cream, and a few spices to provide a gravy for the offending chicken, he produced a mongrel dish of which, to their shame, Britons now eat at least 18 tons a week.

That is from Lizzie Collingham’s Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, an excellent look at the history of Indian food, and especially the Persian origins of many Indian dishes.


But it is delicious!

I am not able to read the comments that have been
posted, but one problem with this huffing and puffing
is that curry is not a single formula. It varies
enormously and widely across different regions of India.
Same goes for tikka. That tikka has been modified in
UK is not a big deal. The same thing has been going on
with respect to Chinese cuisine around the world; you
will not find chop suey in China. Indeed, Chinese cuisine
has been modified in India itself. I find it hard to get
very worked up about this alleged degradation of cuisine
by the former imperialists.

mschrist: nicely put.

Here are a couple more inauthentic national dishes: American pizza and Japanese
curry raisu. And I have seen, and eaten, curry raisu flavored pizza.

Creative destruction never tasted soooo delicious.

"Robin Cook announced chicken tikka masala as the new national dish of Great Britain."


"Food critics immediately responded by condemning it as a British invention."

Wha? It was "announced as the new national dish of Great Britain" not India. Why are they condemning a British national dish for being invented in Britain? Hunh? Isn't that like condemning the American "national pastime" for being invented in America? Why, because it differs from cricket?

But this is good:

"this offensive dish was dismissed as the result of an ignorant customer's complaint that his chicken tikka was too dry."

And in similar fashion, in Saratoga Springs a 150 odd years ago, the potato chip was born from a customer's complaints and a chef improvising an impromptu revenge.

Ptarmigan tikka masala sounds better., the last one ;-)

What the book manages to do well is to show how our notions of national and/or cultural boundaries as expressed through food are totally bogus. There has been movement of peoples, foods, and recipes throughout history. The problem with the curry comment initially has to do with the failure to link the predominance of the dish in Great Britain with the history of colonialism, imperialismand racism, including continuing racist treatment of people from the Indian subcontinent and related areas in Great Britain. Maybe the pizza example is a good comparison in some odd ways -- remember Italians were discriminated against in major ways in the US in teh 19th and early twentieth centuries. . . . . so. . . . there is more to this than what is tasty where and how that links to nation states.

Clinton: My main objection to "fusion" cuisine isn't that it's mixing two cuisines, it's that most of it tastes like crap. I suppose a form of food Darwinism will eventually weed out the deep-fried sushi and other monstrous combinations that should never have been born, leaving only the tastiest combinations. In the meantime, most "fusion" cuisine tastes like it was invented by randomly spinning the Wheels O' Food to generate combinations that no one would have dreamed of. Not everything that's tasty is tasty together.

I wish everyone would just shut up about who made this and any dish for
that matter because its the taste that matters!

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