This week Eatosi takes a look at Hugh Jackman, sorry, Chicken Tikka Massala, it’s hard to not get confused between the two…
Mont Blanc has a new brand ambassador.
The German company owned by Americans that has a distinctly French name couldn’t have chosen a more apt product ambassador than, Hugh Jackman; an Australian whose best known role is that of a Canadian mutant and whose Oscar winning performance was of a French fallen aristocrat.
Of course, Hugh isn’t the first celebrity to advertise products for major global brands of different country origins. Canadian, Ryan Reynolds is the face of German owned, British designed and Romanian produced Hugo Boss and Liv Tyler is the American face to French parfumerie brand Chanel who shot their video in Italy although made it look like France.
This is a global world, where product ambassadors can be from anywhere advertising a different nations national treasure. Caveat emptor, as any good latin teacher would say.
Rick Stein, a British Chef, trained in French classics with restaurants in Australia (and many other places) completed a 2008 TV series called, “Rick Stein’s guide to Food Heroes”. In it (the TV Show), Rick would wander across the British Isles regaling us with food history and nostalgia, his TV crew and Yorkshire Terrier, Chalky moving along in tow.
But it was to be a visit to a popular food establishment for Britain’s favourite dish, in the heart of Yorkshire, Bradford, that would leave TV viewers salivating, curry.
Tikka Masala to be more precise, has led the charge as the nation’s most popular food usurping the Sunday roast and even Fish and Chips. In 2001, then Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook said of the cuisine, “Chicken Tikka Massala is now a true British national dish, not only because it is the most popular, but because it is a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adapts external influences.”
As Eating the World points out, “Dating as far back as 5000 years, Tandoor clay ovens rose in popularity at the same time as chicken domestication on the Indian subcontinent. ‘Tikka’ itself refers to a specific way of cutting chicken into bit-size squares prior to cooking the meat in the tandoor oven.”
Tikka Masala’s origins however then start to get debated at length.
One school of thought is that the Tikka Masala derives from Indian street food, where flavours were essentially weakened to cater for an ever developing multicultural Indian nation.
The other and most popular identity lies with, Ahmed Aslam Ali, an Indian food proprietor of the Shish Mahal Restaurant in Glasgow who claims that he, and his staff invented Tikka Masala. “We used to make chicken tikka and one day a customer said ‘I’d take some sauce with that, this is a bit dry’ so we cooked chicken tikka with the sauce which contains yoghurt, cream, spices.” It certainly is different to one of the rumours where Ali supposedly added a tin of tomato soup and some chilli to the pre-cooked Tikka chicken.
In 2009, Ali was behind a parliamentary campaign with Pakistani-born British MP Mohammad Sarwar to table an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons asking that Parliament support a campaign for Glasgow to be given European Union protected geographical status for chicken tikka masala. The motion was not chosen for debate nor did Sarwar speak on this subject in Parliament.
So a nation’s favourite, which has basic origins in India, rendered popular/invented in Glasgow, supported in parliament by a Pakistani born British MP still leads the way for takeaways in many an English home. If the Tikka Masala was an actor, Hugh Jackman would surely be on the list.
Anjum Anand showcased a variety of “English inspired curries” in 2012 at international curry festival in Kolkata. Here is her recipe from the event. Whilst British food ambassador, Jamie Oliver published his award winning Tikka Masala through his website; the trick it seems, marinate your chicken over night!