What Is The UK's National Dish And Why Is It So Disputed?

UK National Dishes | DesignMyNight

This British curry is coming out on top.

If you've always thought that the creamy chicken tikka masala wasn't authentically Indian (who'da thunk it?), then you'd be 100% correct. Because yes, the UK's national dish is often thought to be this most famous of curries - a meal invented in 1970s Scotland (probably Glasgow) by chefs from the Indian sub-continent, with Pakistani and Bangladeshi chefs most often cited as the likely origin.

Pakistani-born Ali Ahmed Aslam opened Glasgow's Shish Mahal restaurant in 1964 and sadly passed away in December 2022, although his legacy is said to live on in the popular curry. A local parliamentarian even backed a bid to give chicken tikka masala EU-protected status, which would also recognise its Glasgow origins, in 2009. Unfortunately this failed, since so many other restaurants came forward to claim they'd also invented the dish.

All in all, despite being brought to life north of the border in Scotland, it's England specifically that has chicken tikka masala as its national dish. To complicate things further, there's talk of whether fish and chips or roast beef dinners accompanied by Yorkshire puddings should take the title instead; plus the fact that Wales has its own national dish (Welsh cawl), as do Scotland (haggis) and Northern Ireland (Ulster fry).

So, do we even really know what the national dish of the UK is? In 2001, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook declared chicken tikka masala a "true British national dish", going on to say that while tandoor-cooked chicken tikka was Indian, the cream-filled masala sauce was "added to satisfy the desire of British people to have their meat served in gravy". If Cook is to be believed, then maybe we've found our answer.

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