Unraveling the Origins of This Popular Indian Dish!
Chicken tikka is a popular dish in Southern Asia, including many countries such as India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Not to be confused with chicken tikka masala, chicken tikka is actually both a main attraction, and an ingredient used in Indian food.
How It’s Made:
The word “tikka” refers to the way the chicken is prepared in boneless “chunks” or “cutlets”. Typically, the meat is boneless, skewered, and cooked in a tandoor, or clay oven.
It’s not all about the meat, however! Spices are an important part of cooking proper Indian food, and chicken tikka is no exception. Popular ingredients include cayenne and turmeric (for colour, as well as flavour) cumin, coriander, garlic, chili, curry, lemon, salt, and a common spice used in Indian food preparation called garam masala, among other things.
Recipes vary from chef to chef, but also by region. Some popular trends that set Punjabi chicken tikka apart from other varieties is the method of grilling the meat over coals, rather than using a tandoor, and that the meat is often not boneless. Some chefs even like to prepare it in a wrap!
What is Chicken Tikka Used to Make?
Chicken tikka is a dish in and of itself, but due to its simplicity, can easily be used to make other, more elaborate dishes as well. The more popular example is of course chicken tikka masala, which adds a tomato-cream sauce and often vegetables, like potatoes, onions, chickpeas, and other textural additions that are up to the chef’s discretion. The sauce is then often enjoyed over the top of rice, or on its own.
Why the Mix-Up?
Naturally, people confuse chicken tikka – itself more of a preparation method for the chicken – with the extremely popular dish, chicken tikka masala, which has even been adopted as the unofficial “National Dish of Britain” due to its popularity all over the nation. In fact, to many, chicken tikka masala is the first widely accepted example of fusion cuisine, being clearly inspired by Indian cooking, yet a somewhat British invention – and it all started with a plate of chicken tikka. Its origins are attributed to a Bangladeshi chef in Glasgow who invented the dish by adding sauce to chicken tikka in an attempt to appease a picky customer. The customer’s palate was accustomed to the presence of some kind of sauce or gravy, which is not always omnipresent in Indian food, but quite so in British cuisine. And thus the chef whipped up a sauce using tomato soup and yoghurt, and an icon was born!