It’s an east v west battle: did Indian or Glaswegian chefs create one of our favourite curries, chicken tikka masala?Top chefs Phil Vickery and Reza Mahammad have been cooking up a storm in Glasgow in their quest to find the elusive origins of one of Britain’s favourite Indian dishes.
The chefs visited the Shish Mahal, which claims to be the inventor of the classic dish, and competed against each other in a cook off challenge in Buchanan Street during their visit, which will be shown on ITV’s This Morning on Friday.
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It is the second trip the pair have undertaken as part of their new Indian cooking series for This Morning, which focuses on Britain’s take on its favourite curries; jalfrezi, chicken tikka masala and vindaloo, and how they differ from the traditional dishes.
Reza said: “The Shish Mahal claim they are the ones that invented chicken tikka masala, however, in India in 1948 another restaurant introduced the tandoor and used to do a derivative sauce on it.
“We are trying to understand how the public have changed in their attitudes towards taste and flavour and whether the British palette has really changed.
“Over the last two decades things have changed so much, most of people in the UK have travelled and have a taste for what they want, however, cuisine here is so different from the foods you get back in these homelands. It’s been an eye-opener.”
Phil said: “We have always been a nation that takes on other people’s cuisines.
“However, a lot of dishes are completely different and supermarkets are slightly to blame for that because they will take a national dish and change it, if it does not sell, to suit the British palette.
“When we go to other countries and eat their food a lot of it doesn’t fit our taste pallete. The consistency of dishes in India is very rustic and the flavours in spices and the masala are so intense but it’s not like that here so it’s been quite interesting to come back and see how these dishes were done originally and how the UK has changed them to fit their palettes.
“I hope that people will watch and think about the origins of these dishes.”
The chefs, who visited India before embarking on the series, have already visited London with their jalfrezi recipes and are now preparing to head to Newcastle to make vindaloo.
However, with two losses in the cook off challenges, Phil is hoping that he will be able to pull one back in Newcastle.
He said: “I was surprised that I lost in Glasgow because I did not think that the Scots love of chilli would make a difference but you live, you learn.
“Here you have got two different chefs and you can see how they would approach a national dish using virtually the same ingredients and, hopefully, it will make people look at food in a completely different way.
“I’ve got to up my game now though because I’m two down. I’ve been beaten by the master but I don’t give up, the boy will win in the end.”
Reza added: “We’ve been to London and they have got a very sophisticated palette and here people like their spicy foods. It’s been very interesting. In Newcastle people like spicy food so Phil’s pork vindaloo could be a winner.”
Phil has also praised his wife Fern Britton for her performance on Strictly Come Dancing. The former This Morning presenter was voted off the show on Sunday after being beaten in the dance off by Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh.
Phil said: “She did brilliantly, I thought she was going to get through to Wembley this weekend but there you go.
“I thought Saturday was her best dance, it was a bit of a travesty that she was voted out really but she loved every moment of it.”