What Haggis? Scotland Now Claims Chicken Tikka Masala


Forget haggis. Scottish MPs are now claiming that chicken tikka masala — that creamy, junky-good dish found in mediocre curry houses worldwide — was invented at a certain Glasgow restaurant in the 1970s. Not only that, but they are insisting that the European Union recognize this and issue an official Protected Designation of Origin. That would mean that only chicken tikka masala made in Scotland could be called “chicken tikka masala.” A D.O.C. would put chicken tikka masala (often affectionately called “CTM”) in the same league as Champagne, which can only be made in Champagne, and prosciutto di Parma, which can only be made in Parma, Italy.

Perhaps someone’s been drinking too much Scotch.

Like so many subcontinental dishes, it’s almost impossible to prove where chicken tikka masala came from. Chicken tikka is a simple, classic Northern Indian kabob made of marinated, grilled hunks of chicken. Along the way, someone added a bunch of cream, most likely to cater to wimpy Western tastes, and appended the word “masala.”

Indian chefs are up in arms about this, claiming that CTM is theirs, originating in Northern India. That’s funny, because Indian-American chefs are prone to scoffing over the inauthenticity of the dish. In any case, CTM is finally having its moment in the sun.

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