Chicken Tikka Masala Curry is a dish, which elegantly balances a creamy and nutty taste and texture with a bite of ginger, cumin and marinated and grilled tenderloins.
It is not too uncommon to almost equate Indian food with Chicken Tikka Masa in the West. Even though there is no unanimous agreement about where and how this famous dish originated, there is, nevertheless, almost a consensus that it was created by immigrants from India or Bangladesh in Great Britain as result of multiculturalism and culinary ingenuity. A few disbelievers claim it originated in India, but one thing is certain: Unlike in the West, Chicken Tikka Masala lives a rather obscure existence within the borders of India.
“Tikka” is a cooking tradition that goes all the way back to the rule of the Mughal Dynasty in Northern India. “Tikka” means “pieces” and refers to small pieces of meat or vegetables, which are marinated, put on skewers, and grilled in a very hot tandoor oven.
“Chicken Tikka”, therefore, refers to pieces of marinated and grilled chicken, while “Masala” is the name for the uncountable spice blends both sold at the market or made from scratch in the Indian households.
Though the dish, by all accounts, is created by sheer luck and improvisation (as so many other things), it has become exceptionally popular in just a few decades. In Great Britain where it first emerged, it is so widespread that the then British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in a speech in 2001 declared Chicken Tikka Masala “a true national dish”. Cook’s reasoning was that the dish was “a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adapts external influences.”
In hindsight, how Chicken Tikka Masala was originally devised seems obvious: you marinate and grill some chicken and then add it to a curry (Indian stew/gravy).
Likewise, cooking Bindia’s Chicken Tikka Masala appears deceivingly simple for the untrained eye: first we marinate chicken tenderloins in our own marinade made of tandoori spices, which are spices that can handle the scorching heat of a tandoor oven. In our marinade these includes spices like ginger, turmeric, and fenugreek. Finally, we grill the meat at very temperatures to ensure that it doesn’t dry out, but stays juicy, tasty, and tender.
The curry used for Bindia’s Chicken Tikka Masala has a little more punch of ginger and cumin but is simultaneously creamy and nutty to balance out the final dish.