The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (2024)

This project is pretty simple. As a complement to each race weekend, I’ll be cooking the national dish of that race’s host country and sharing information about the process and that dish’s history along the way in an effort to grow more deeply immersed in the local culture from my own home.

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (1)

Thanks for reading Grand Prix Gastronomy! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (2)

When you think of British food, you're probably thinking of stereotypes like mushy peas or bangers and mash. However, the folks across the pond overwhelmingly voted chicken tikka masala as England's national dish. You'll probably hear people claim it's because of England's stunning multiculturalism, but I think we're all aware that it has a whole lot more to do with colonialism. The fact that an Indian dish has become so popular in Britain isn't because British people are notoriously kind and welcoming to different cultures. It's because British people spent a really long time subjugating other countries and happened to bring back some good food in the process.

So, here we are: chicken tikka masala has been recognized as the country’s national dish! There are a lot of different origin stories for this dish, but historians are, at the very least, confident that it was popularized by the South Asian community in Great Britain. Whether it actually originated in the Punjab region, as some historians suggest, is moot; its current preparation has been largely done with ingredients available in Western countries.

If you want to get stereotypically British, that’s also fine. Fish and chips, a full English breakfast, shepherd’s pie, and roast dinner are all great options for something more “traditional,” but I do personally prefer to cook a meal that places the British identity on the backburner and instead flips the script on the way we perceive that country. Colonization, after all, depends in large part on erasing the historical identity of a region; it’s only fair to allow those cultures space to shine.

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (3)

This Week's Recipe

I picked a recipe from food blog Swasthi’s Recipes, which features a description of the dish and also the distinctions between the Indian preparation of chicken tikka masala when compared to the British version. This recipe favors the British preparation.

I simply cannot have curry without rice, so I’m serving this alongside basmati rice — annnnnd one of my favorite breads ever, garlic naan. I’ve made the linked recipe from Food & Wine multiple times with success.

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (4)

Elizabeth Blackstock on Instagram: “I’ve only made chicken tikka masala from scratch once before, but I much preferred the outcome I got with this #GrandPrixGastronomy recipe — even if I wish I’d have let the gravy simmer down a little more! Despite that, it was still ridiculously delicious, and a great pairing for the #BritishGP.

July 5, 2023

I highly recommend getting a head start on your chicken tikka masala the day before you want to cook it, just to give your chicken thighs time to marinate in all that spicy, yogurty goodness. Usually when I go out of my way to prep one thing, I’ll do everything — which in this case was also chopping veggies, measuring out spices and other ingredients, and even setting out the cookware I knew I’d need the next day.

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (5)The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (6)The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (7)

That helps me especially because I am not particularly skilled at managing multiple pans at once, and for this recipe, if I wanted to cook everything at the same time, I’d be making: 1) chicken, 2) tikka masala sauce, 3) basmati rice and 4) naan. I don’t have enough kitchen space for all that, and I most definitely do not have the brain space for it.

So, the day that I intended to do the most cooking, I started off my morning by prepping the naan dough, which had risen and was ready to be cooked up on my lunch break. It was pretty simple to divide the dough, roll it out, cook one naan at a time, and slather the whole thing in the garlic butter I’d left melting on the stove. Cooking naan is a fairly quick process, so you won’t have a ton of time to be thinking about anything else.

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (8)The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (9)

After that was done, I transitioned to my chicken. The recipe I’ve selected, you might notice, mentions that should start the tomato gravy and then deal with the chicken… but in reading the recipe, I couldn’t find a ton of benefit in doing it exactly that way. So, as a result, I cooked the chicken in the oven during my lunch break as well. That involved skewering your marinated chicken thigh bites (I used metal skewers, since they’re super easy to clean and reuse) and baking it all at high heat for about 20 minutes (flipping halfway through). That meant I got that part of my meal over and done with before I had to head back to work to finish off my day. I pulled the chicken off the skewers when they’d cooled, covered ‘em, and then popped them in the fridge. I brought the plate of chicken out when I started my gravy so that the pieces wouldn’t be super cold when I dumped them into the sauce, but the sauce is going to do just fine in warming everything up; you just might want to let the chicken simmer for a little while longer than the recipe calls for.

Whew. Got all that? Because now we’re finally about to start on that sauce.

I heated up ghee and sautéed my onions until they were nice and golden, then I added ginger, garlic, and green chili. Cook until that’s fragrant, then add your spice blend (I highly recommend mixing it all up before you start cooking, if only to keep track of what you’ve added and what you haven’t). You’ll mix everything up, then lower the heat and add your tomatoes. Cook that down, then add water, and let the whole thing simmer until it gets nice and thick. At that point, add in some cream, then taste it all to see if it needs sugar. (You’ll know it does if it seems particularly astringent or tangy.) If it does, add ‘er in. Return the chicken and some fenugreek, let it get nice and warm, and then serve.

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (11)

While the recipe calls for you to spend the post-water-addition simmer time making the chicken, I used that time to whip up some basmati rice, to which I added a cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom pods, saffron, and ghee, which resulted in a savory, spiced rice similar to what I’ve had in Indian restaurants.

I plated the rice first, then poured some of the chicken tikka masala on top and popped my naan on the side. For my wine pairing, I opted for gewürztraminer. This white is sweet, aromatic, and floral, with a little hint of gingery spice and some sharp rose and grapefruit notes. It’s a great fit for highly spiced dishes.

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (12)

So, What's the Verdict?

I have made a lot of sorry excuses for Indian-style curry in my day, but this chicken tikka masala? My god, it was great. It tasted so much like the vague memory of an exceptional chicken tikka masala I had while immensely drunk in London once that one bite of this dish brought back a lot of memories of that trip that I thought had been lost to the wind. Nostalgia in every bite? You couldn’t make this stuff up!

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (13)

My cooking process for this dish was a little drawn out, but I do think it was worthwhile, because there’s really not much I’d want to change — other than maybe puréeing the tomatoes and/or letting the sauce simmer for longer. I suffer from the traditional bland white woman’s inability to figure out the nuances of cooking a great rice on the stovetop, but I got a little closer to success this time. I rinsed my rice like I was trying to let the last bit of Ronald McDonald red box dye run from my hair before I even thought about touching a towel, which worked out great. The lack of starch meant each grain of rice remained separate from all its buddies. However, I do wish I’d salted my cooking water; I intended to and entirely forgot. A task for next time!

And when it came to my naan, I was honestly pretty proud — though there’s still room for improvement. I probably could have benefitted by rolling the dough out thinner, but I am also the kind of person who likes the softness of a barely-cooked bread interior. (Or maybe that’s just what I tell myself to redeem my not-totally-perfect yeasted baking adventures — who knows!) I had this issue the last time I made naan at home, but I did really improve on everything with this recipe. I do still have work to do, though.

Overall, though, I was so freakin’ stoked about how this dish came out. It was a great blend of “food I knew I’d like” and “cooking processes that are still challenging,” which made for a final product that was comforting and a day in the kitchen that was super educational. Roasting the meat on skewers and adding it in once the sauce was complete was such a game changer! I truly cannot wait to make this again as soon as I can.

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (14)

As usual, thank you to all the sweet humans who spend their weekends making food based on the recipes I share! It truly does mean the world to me!

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (15)

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (16)

Fie on Instagram: “Da #grandprixgastronomy startede var der tre løb, jeg især så frem til og vi et nået til en af dem; Østrig. For alle ved at Østrig = wienerschnitzel og selvom jeg ligesom Claus Holm mener at Vester Skerninge Kro laver den bedste wienerschnitzel, så laver jeg den gerne selv, her med braskartofler, dreng, ærter og smørsovs og ha, min dreng mangler benfri sild, men dem spiser jeg ikke. Min gæst mødte ikke op til løbet, så jeg har en kattestørrelse wienerschnitzel i overskud. Næste uge: Silverstone. #AustrianGP

July 2, 2023

If you want to stay tuned…

Here are all the relevant links in one place, if you want to subscribe:

All Grand Prix Gastronomy-related content will be free — but if you want to drop me a donation on PayPal, that’s always welcome.

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala (2024)

FAQs

The National Dish of the British Grand Prix? Chicken Tikka Masala? ›

Chicken tikka masala 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. Chicken tikka is an Indian dish.

Is chicken tikka masala the British national dish? ›

As well as there is no single official National Day in the UK, there is not one single national dish of Britain, mainly because the UK is made up of four separate countries, each of which have their own national dishes: Chicken Tikka Masala in England; Haggis in Scotland; Welsh Cawl in Wales; and Irish Stew in Ireland.

What does it mean to be British chicken tikka masala? ›

It's not because Chicken Tikka Masala is the most popular, or it was invented in Great Britain, but because it is a perfect illustration of the way the British people have absorbed and adapted to external influences and cultures. Chicken tikka masala is truly a symbol of the modern multicultural Britain.

What is the national dish of England life in the UK? ›

The fusion of traditional British culture and cultures from around the globe makes the nation so interesting to live in. Chicken tikka masala has become a true British national dish, not only because it is the most popular but also because it exemplifies how Britain absorbs and adapts to external influences.

Why is butter chicken the national dish of England? ›

However, Tikka Masala itself is a much more modern dish. Most stories agree that a Bangladeshi chef in Britain developed the recipe by taking Butter Chicken and making it more palatable to British tastes. It became such a hit that the dish was crowned as Britain's national dish!

What is the USA's national dish? ›

The United States does not officially have a designated national dish, but hamburgers and Apple Pie are unofficial national dishes of USA due to their popularity and widespread consumption across the country.

What is Scotland's national dish? ›

Scotland's national dish is haggis, a savoury meat pudding, and it's traditionally accompanied by mashed potatoes, turnips (known as 'neeps') and a whisky sauce. Which brings us to the national drink – whisky.

Is tikka masala healthy? ›

Skip: Chicken Tikka Masala

But like many Indian dishes that were originally low fat, the modern recipe for chicken tikka masala is anything but. An average portion has whopping 1,249 calories and 90.8 grams of fat. A lot of that comes from the ghee and heavy cream.

What's the difference between chicken tikka and chicken tikka masala? ›

"Tikka" typically refers to small pieces of meat, such as chicken or lamb, that have been marinated in a spiced yogurt mixture and then grilled or roasted. "Tikka Masala," on the other hand, is a dish that is made by cooking chunks of tikka (the marinated meat) in a spicy, tomato-based sauce.

What is a fun fact about tikka masala? ›

Aslam, a Bangladeshi chef residing in Glasgow, Scotland, is credited with creating the dish in the 1970s. Legend has it that Aslam improvised the recipe by combining grilled chicken tikka with a creamy tomato-based sauce, resulting in the iconic dish we know today.

What is the top national dish in the UK? ›

There is much dispute about which is truly the English national dish. Number one on the list for many years has been roast beef and Yorkshire puddings followed closely by fish and chips.

What is the unofficial national dish of England? ›

Chicken tikka is an Indian dish. People across the United Kingdom have still chosen this dish to be national food. It is a perfect example that how Britain absorbs and adapts external influences.

What is the most famous food in England? ›

Top 10 Traditional Food in the UK
  • Fish and Chips. First place naturally goes to Britain's 'national dish' Fish and chips! ...
  • Sunday Roast. Sunday Roast, literally translated, is Sunday Roast. ...
  • Full English Breakfast. ...
  • Bangers and Mash. ...
  • Beef Wellington. ...
  • Pie and Mash. ...
  • Chicken Tikka Masala. ...
  • Apple Crumble.
Mar 26, 2024

Is chicken tikka masala a true British national dish? ›

Chicken tikka masala 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. Chicken tikka is an Indian dish.

What is the myth behind chicken tikka masala? ›

A popular legend traces its creation to Glasgow in the 1970s, where a chef, responding to a customer's request for a juicier chicken tikka, added a creamy tomato sauce, unknowingly giving birth to a dish that would become a UK favourite. However, this isn't the only theory.

What is France's national dish? ›

Pot-au-feu is the national dish of France. This essential version combines beef shank and rump roast with eight vegetables and a blend of herbs for an extra-comforting bowl. This classic French soup features tender beef, root vegetables, and marrow for a rich, flavorful meal.

What is the national dish of the UK curry? ›

One type of curry, chicken tikka masala has become widespread enough to be described as the national dish of the United Kingdom. British curry: Chicken tikka masala has been described as the national dish. The first curry house opened in London in 1810.

What is the most popular dish in the UK? ›

filters
  1. 1 Fish and Chips86%
  2. 2 Roast Chicken86%
  3. 3 English Breakfast80%
  4. 4 Roast Beef79%
  5. 5 Mashed Potatoes78%
  6. 6 Bangers and Mash77%
  7. 7 Beans on Toast74%
  8. 8 Pigs in Blankets73%

Is chicken tikka masala Americanized? ›

Chicken tikka masala is said to have been invented in Britain – but its origins are ancient, and lie in the Indian subcontinent.

What is classic British food? ›

Dig into the best of British cuisine by enjoying classics including roasts, stews and fish and chips – or dabble in delicious desserts with sweet scones and tarts.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Velia Krajcik

Last Updated:

Views: 6135

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Velia Krajcik

Birthday: 1996-07-27

Address: 520 Balistreri Mount, South Armand, OR 60528

Phone: +466880739437

Job: Future Retail Associate

Hobby: Polo, Scouting, Worldbuilding, Cosplaying, Photography, Rowing, Nordic skating

Introduction: My name is Velia Krajcik, I am a handsome, clean, lucky, gleaming, magnificent, proud, glorious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.