“Chicken Tikka Masala, or CTM as it is known in short, is one of those dishes that was invented for British palate by an astute Bangladeshi chef. It is said that when a customer in his restaurant was served Chicken Tikka, a well known Indian dish, he complained, “where is my gravy”? The chef called the dish back to the kitchen, just fried some sliced onion, ginger, garlic, added a little of tinned, condensed Campbell’s Cream of Tomato Soup, a few more curry spices and sent it back to the ignorant customer. He loved it and Chicken Tikka Masala was born! Perhaps this customer was on to something and was not as ignorant as described in the Chicken Tikka Masala folk lore! Many chefs like to lay claims to have invented this, UK’s most loved dish, but there is no evidence to support their claims. ”
Regardless of its source, Nick, true to his English heritage, is a full on CTM boy. We discovered to our slight dismay that there are NO curry houses on the west side of Puerto Rico. In fact, the nearest Indian restaurant is in Condado, a suburb of San Juan (a mere 2.5 hours away…). And no, I don’t think they deliver. Looks very nice though and there is a CTM on the menu so we’ll be checking it out:
There is also an Indian restaurant in Old San Juan (Tantra), which offers a ‘fusion Indo-Latino’ menu. Hmmm…. We’ll keep you posted!
Of course, the lack of a good curry house simply means that I will be kicking up my own curry cooking activities and dabbling (to Nick’s great joy) in some non-low fat, cream laden creations. In preparation for curry exile, I decided to do my best to reproduce an authentic curry house CTM. Oh how naive was I… I discovered to my great dismay that there are dozens and dozens of ‘authentic’ CTM recipes. Ineed, a 1998 survey by Real Curry Restaurant Guide of 48 different CTMs found the only common ingredient was chicken. Given that CTM is not a “true” Indian dish, its ingredients seem to vary depending on each chef’s source of original inspiration (no, not campbell’s but authentic recipes such as Murg Makhani).
Through trial and error (and liberal experimentation with my arsenal of spices) we discovered that the main ingredient Nick is partial to for full CTM bliss is coconut in some shape or form. So I cannot report success as of yet, but I’ll keep you posted. The next recipe I plan to try is by Chef Manzoor Ahmed of Tabaq Restaurant South Clapham, London CTM of the Year 2002 as voted in the Best in Britain Awards (BIBA). But if you happen to have a tried and tested recipe, do let us know!