Finns love Indian cuisine, but do you know where the popular chicken in masala sauce dish originated?
Chicken tikka masala is the most popular curry dish in Great Britain, and the chicken dish in question is no stranger to Finns either.
But where does chicken tikka masala originally come from? The roots of the dish go back to Scotland, Glasgow, where he was born in Pakistan Ali Ahmed Aslam moved with his family as a child and founded the restaurant Shis Mahal in 1964 after growing up.
In a 2009 interview with the news agency AFP, Aslam said that he developed the chicken tikka masala dish in the 70s after a customer told him that the chicken tikka dish was dry and asked if he could do something about it.
Aslam decided to go all out and developed a sauce for the dish that contained tomato, cream, yogurt and spices. Chicken in masala sauce was born, and it soon spread to restaurants around the country and then the world.
In 2009, a local politician tried to get EU name protection for Glasgow as the place of origin of tikka Masala, but the name protection was not granted, because many others also signed up as the inventor of the hit dish. So there is no complete certainty about the original inventor of the dish, but it is generally recognized that tikka masala is a dish that has been shaped specifically to suit Western tastes.
Restaurant Shis Mahal announced on its Facebook page the death of Ali Ahmed Aslam in December 2022.
Popularity in Finland steady
Chicken tikka masala is also a familiar dish to Finns. According to the food delivery service Wolt, the dish is the second best-selling Indian and Nepalese restaurant in Finland. Only butter chicken, i.e. chicken in butter sauce, surpasses it.
– If you look at the list of hot dishes separately, tikka masala is number one. Finns clearly turn to Masala when they are looking for a hot meal, says Wolt’s director of communications in Finland Outi Sjöman.
According to Sjöman, the great popularity of Nepali and Indian food has been very steady for several years. A lot of dishes are ordered, especially at lunchtime.
Food delivery service Foodora also reports that Indian and Nepalese cuisine is one of Finns’ perennial favorites, and that Tikka Masala is one of the best-selling dishes.
– The popularity of Indian and Nepali food is always pretty even. Last year, Nepali food was on the rise in our service in two phases: from March to April and from June to October, after which its popularity has slightly decreased. The popularity of Indian food is somewhat more consistent throughout the year, says Foodora’s commercial director responsible for restaurant operations Einar Toivonen.
Sources: Independent, BBC