Chicken tikka flavour now for Britain’s favourite chips

August 12th, 2008 - 1:55 pm ICT by IANS  

By Venkata Vemuri
London, Aug 12 (IANS) Chicken tikka and Walkers’ crisps. Britain’s most popular ethnic food now has a chance of flavouring the country’s equally popular brand of potato chips. Walkers’ launched a “Do us a flavour, win a packet” campaign last month to invite ideas for new flavours and among those favouring the chicken tikka flavour is British tabloid, The Sun.

The tabloid leads Tuesday’s edition with the tikka campaign, even delving into what it calls the 500-year-old history of the famed dish from India.

The Walkers’ campaign is backed by a £10 million advertising campaign lasting till May, 2009. Prominent UK chef Heston Blumenthal will lead a panel of judges to choose the best six flavour entries which will then be put to vote.

It even kicked off the campaign with an Indian flavour, launching a limited edition of lamb curry flavour crisps, the idea of its brand ambassador and soccer legend Gary Lineker.

There are many entries favouring Indian flavours and the tikka flavour is the most popular of them all.

The Sun says chicken tikka has its origins “in the Punjab region of what are now India and Pakistan”. It goes into the past, referring to the age when chickens were domesticated for the first time in India and the clay oven was introduced.

The tabloid credits the first Mughal emperor, Babur, with the creation of the tikka method of cooking chicken. This is the Sun’s reading of the tikka history: “Sick of choking on tiny chicken bones, he ordered his Punjabi chefs to remove them all from his meat before cooking it - or risk a roasting themselves. The terrified chefs chopped the flesh into tiny pieces and inspected each bit for bone or gristle before baking it in a tandoor. The result was called joleh - Persian for chicken - tikka.”

It recalls how the tikka traveled to the UK with returning British soldiers and businessmen and its re-birth in the 1950s as the first wave of Indians migrated to the country.

“Some 450 years after Babur’s reign, the offshoot dish came into creation . . . in Glasgow. Several restaurants claim credit, but there were probably several recipes that merged later. By 2001 it had become so popular that then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said chicken tikka masala was “Britain’s true national dish”.

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